Mind Over Sports

“THEY JUST GOT RUSTY.”

Posted on: March 22, 2015

I’ve been watching the NCAA post-season basketball tournament and noticed that one of the announcers, when commenting on the fact that one of the teams had lost their last three games, said: “They just got rusty.” He said this because he really didn’t know why they had lost their last three games. In fact, this lack of knowledge is really quite common throughout the sports industry. Here’s what I’ve found over the years: There are Primary and Secondary levels of distraction for athletes that will negatively affect their ability to focus. The Primary level is essentially when an athlete gets over-excited and needs to calm his or her nerves. This problem can often be taken care of during the game and we are able to see change in the athlete during the game. These are athletes who can be helped by a sport psychologist. Meditation is often a valuable tool. But there is also the Secondary level that includes, for example, problems with a girlfriend (or boyfriend), financial problems or family problems. These are problems that, once the game gets underway, cannot be addressed and probably won’t ever be addressed until the athlete is made aware that addressing these three types of problems will enhance his or her performance. These are athletes with problems who cannot be helped by a sport psychologist because they are considered clinical in nature and can only be addressed by a clinical psychologist, or someone with clinical experience. When teams become support groups one of their main functions is to have team members interact with each other and address the Secondary level of problems and issues. And when they do, the issues/problems begin to disappear…like magic.

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