sport psych

Roundtable Recap: Sport Psych for Rowing

What a monster this one was! Blake, Joe, and I had a great talk with Sara Hendershot about sport psych for rowing and how to develop a strong mindset for success. We talked for almost 90 minutes straight and I feel like we could’ve all kept going. Whether you’re wrapping up winter season, preparing for spring racing, or just blew up at the CRASH-B’s, I hope this will be helpful to you in your athletic pursuits.

Hear it also on Soundcloud and iTunes

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Athlete Transitioning: Graduating from Sport

Often lost in the excitement of the final races, championship qualifiers, and preparing for the culmination of another season is the realization that, for the tens of thousands of athletes graduating from high school or college and not continuing sport, this is it. While many rowers will no doubt look forward to sleeping in, no more 2k tests, and a life beyond spandex, many will struggle to adjust to a life that does not revolve around athletics and athletic performance. All sports have unique cultures and forge strong bonds between teammates, and many will not find the close relationships that existed between teammates in work, school, or future life.

Sport serves to unite people, give them a common goal, and bind them through shared struggle. Beyond the medals and trophies, this is what makes sport so valuable in a person’s life. When retired athletes look back on their career and what they enjoyed, it’s usually much more about the lifelong relationships and personal accomplishments than it is about the stat lines of number of games won or trophies earned. These deep bonds between teammates who share the incredible work ethic, intrinsic motivation, and dedication are hard to match later in life.

This is also what makes sport so hard to leave, and why retirement from sport can be so difficult on so many people.

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Athlete Transitioning: Graduating from Sport

Often lost in the excitement of the final races, championship qualifiers, and preparing for the culmination of another season is the realization that, for the tens of thousands of athletes graduating from high school or college and not continuing sport, this is it. While many rowers will no doubt look forward to sleeping in, no more 2k tests, and a life beyond spandex, many will struggle to adjust to a life that does not revolve around athletics and athletic performance. All sports have unique cultures and forge strong bonds between teammates, and many will not find the close relationships that existed between teammates in work, school, or future life.

Sport serves to unite people, give them a common goal, and bind them through shared struggle. Beyond the medals and trophies, this is what makes sport so valuable in a person’s life. When retired athletes look back on their career and what they enjoyed, it’s usually much more about the lifelong relationships and personal accomplishments than it is about the stat lines of number of games won or trophies earned. These deep bonds between teammates who share the incredible work ethic, intrinsic motivation, and dedication are hard to match later in life.

This is also what makes sport so hard to leave, and why retirement from sport can be so difficult on so many people.

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Mental Skills for Rowing: Part 3

Part 1: Goal-setting, progressive muscle relaxation, cognitive reframing, and positive self-talk

Part 2: Visualization, pre-practice, pre-performance, and mental reset routines

We’ll discuss the final two mental skills and wrap the series up with how to put them all together in a training plan for better training sessions and improved performance.

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Mental Skills for Rowing: Part 2

In Part 1, we talked about the basic skills of goal-setting, progressive muscle relaxation, cognitive reframing, and positive self-talk. This article will continue with some more basic mental skills that you can incorporate right away into your training. Remember, mental training is just like physical training in that you can’t just flip a switch and be in shape. It will take time and dedication to improve, and from reduced anxiety to increased performance to improved focus and happiness in sport, the benefits are worth the work.

4. Visualization & Imagery

  • Create a positive picture of success in a controllable environment and mentally rehearse your actions to improve focus and familiarity when you do them physically.

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Mental Skills for Rowing: Part 1

Anyone who has rowed or been around rowers can tell you that this is a mentally difficult sport, and maybe you have to be a little crazy to do it. The constant pressure of technical improvement combined with the drive to improve on the ergometer tests and in training can be a lot to deal with, and athletes not equipped to deal with this stress often find themselves burned out after a few seasons. This article series will teach you some basic mental skills that you can incorporate into your own training as a rower or coxswain.

In the long term,

MST can help reduce anxiety and build good mental habits to lay a foundation for race day and tests. Just like in school, you can’t just cram for a few hours and expect to do well on the test—you have to work at it all quarter.

In the shorter term,

MST can help improve performance by reducing distractions, improving focus, and decreasing anxiety. The basis of short-term MST is maintaining a mindset of positivity and not getting bogged down in uncontrollable factors. Control what you can control, let everything else go. (more…)

Stay Positive to Beat the Injury Blues

Originally published as a guest post on Rufo Optimal Workouts

Injury risk is an inevitable part of life and competitive sport. The first step to developing a positive mindset is accepting this risk and destigmatizing injury should it occur. Getting injured is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but it is a risk that we all take as athletes and active people. In this article, I’ll explain how you can do everything you can to prevent injury and how to keep your cool should injury occur.

I do want to include a disclaimer here to say that sports are often a huge part of people’s lives, personal identity, and self-esteem, as well as a method for coping with stress, and it can be very difficult when an injury takes this away. If you or one of your athletes or teammates is struggling with depression-like symptoms, please refer to a mental health counselor or sport psychology counselor. The Applied Association of Sport Psychology is a great resource and maintains a list of certified consultants.

Control the “Controllables,” Discard What Remains

Maintaining physical readiness to train is at the forefront of every responsible athlete and coach’s mind. Even though we all accept a risk of injury training and competing in sport, injury prevention is a critical part of maintaining this readiness. Here are the core tenets of injury risk reduction that are 100% under your control: (more…)

Sport Specialization Is Not the Answer

Will Ruth

I posted an article on Facebook a month ago summarizing many of the problems with youth sports and explaining a few ways that youth and high school coaches could improve the situation. The article was “Does Youth Sports Get the Math All Wrong?” by John O’Sullivan from the Changing the Game Project. Many commenters on the article agreed, but one nonbeliever stuck out. They said, “How do you expect part-time HS coaches to actually do any of this?” and suggested that it would be, “like a Harvard Skytte prize-winning professor coming to 3rd grade to teach quantum physics.”

I know a thing or two about a thing or two, and haven’t gotten a Skytte prize for either of them, but here’s what this part-time HS coach does. First, let’s cover research-based evidence of youth sport specialization vs. non-specialization, or “multilateral” development.

#1: “Don’t force, expect, or encourage early specialization”

I encourage all of my athletes to play other sports in the off-season. I don’t leave the “why” up to them—expecting children or HS athletes to read between the lines is a road to frustration. I always played multiple sports, so I talk about what I personally learned and how I applied it from sport to sport. Lead them through it and draw comparisons between their sport and others. Most young athletes won’t see the strategic similarities between soccer and lacrosse or similar skillsets between wrestling and football until you explain it a bit. (more…)

Interview with Coach Kathy Flores

Interview by Will Ruth, original date: 2/9/14

4 National Championships with Florida State U (player)

1991 Rugby World Cup Championship (player)

Player Berkeley All Blues 1994-1998

Head Coach of Berkeley All Blues 1998-2007

flores2

[Photo: liferunningeagles.com]

11 National Championships with All Blues as a player and coach

Head Coach of US Women’s National Team 2002-2011

Brown University Women’s Rugby Coach, 2013-Present

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