Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Bob Rotella

Coach Calipari understands the value of making sure his team members know he cares about them and their personal lives as well as their lives as athletes on his team. It began with his pre-season Pro Camp where he invited all the NBA GM’s and Scouts to visit his team working out before the season started. His purpose was to make sure his team players got the necessary exposure to the NBA people so that it would increase the possibility that, after they finish playing at the University of Kentucky, they would have a running start at becoming instant millionaires. He also hired Bob Rotella, one of this country’s top sport psychologists to help him. (Rotella is one of those sport psychologists who is reportedly violating his academic oath by helping athletes with their personal problems, something he’s not allowed to do since that’s the domain of the clinical psychologist and if found out, could lose his license.) But lingering in Coach Calipari’s past is when he was fired as head coach of the New Jersey Nets after having brought motivational speaker Tony Robbins into a team meeting to have team members break two-by-four boards with their bare hands. It didn’t work.


Sport psychologists often recommend visualizing an event, quieting your mind, ridding yourself of negative thoughts, and focusing on the present. It all sounds good, until attempted by athletes experiencing severe personal problems. In such instances, most sport psychologists focus on all the information coming in. But in my opinion, the problem isn’t information coming in, it’s information already there which hasn’t been addressed. A lack of focusing is usually the result of unresolved issues an athlete may be harboring inside his or her “self”. Athletes who resolve their issues prior to competing perform at a higher level than those who do not. And those who do not are more susceptible to error.
Bob Rotella, one of golf’s more successful sport psychologists, was quoted in an article that appeared in a past issue of the New York Times Magazine as saying: “I believe you have free will, that you control your thoughts.” In the same article, the writer reviewed the technique of another sport psychologist, Deborah Graham, who also counsels golfers on the pro tour: “Graham says that the chief difference between her approach and Rotella’s is that, as a practicing psychotherapist, she brings a clinical perspective to the problems at hand. In the name of golf, she delves into such things as players’ marital crises, their addiction to alcohol – subjects that may lie beyond Rotella’s focus.” The reason they may lie beyond Rotella’s focus is because, as a sport psychologist, he is not allowed to enter the domain of the clinical psychologist or psychotherapist. And if he does, he could lose his license.
My approach when working with athletes is more in harmony with Graham’s than Rotella’s. I do not believe you have free will regarding your thoughts, but rather they are products of your beliefs, which come from your feelings of self-worth.

N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

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