Sport Psychology Skills beyond sports

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by Dr. Eric Bergreen

Years ago I had to take a big test, the biggest of my life. This was one of those tests where the odds were Not in your favor. ARG…….PRESSURE! I thought to myself, what’s the difference between BIG Test pressure and trying to make the game winning free throw? Nothing, absolutely nothing. As they say “it’s all in your mind.” I created a pre-performance routine to get me in a confident mindset. Next, I created a refocus routine for when I hit those tough questions that make me think more about the consequences of failure than the actual question. I was nervous, but the skills I learned from Sport Psychology really helped me beat that test.

So, if Sport Psychology is not just for sports, where else in life do we experience a desire to succeed and
often find ourselves tested? The answer is everywhere! Because others could see it’s not about “Sports” it is about “Performance”, I recently had the opportunity to work with the United States Army. Consider a Soldier who is fresh out of high school and facing training that will determine the ultimate version of success and loss. Consider an Army Ranger who is at the top of his game but still wants that split second edge when push comes to shove. They both need to reach their potential in the critical moment. The skills of composure, focus, confidence, and mental agility were needed in every part of their life.

It was enjoyable to take the exact same mental skills I have taught to athletes and let the Soldiers tell me all the applications in their world. And yes, they taught me some amazing skills as well. The brain doesn’t care what you’re doing it only perceives threat. Threat can be a bullet rushing past your ears, it can be your Drill Sergeant yelling in your face, and it might even be a fight with your spouse. The rules and functions of the brain are still the same. Like Einstein’s simple little equation of E=MC², the brain perceives threat and we get: Thoughts + Emotions + Physiology = Performance. Use that knowledge to your advantage.

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