Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Support Groups

Those of you who read this Internet column know the importance I place on transforming athletic teams into support groups, allowing participants to discuss issues in their personal lives that may be affecting their ability to focus. And nowhere is this more clearly exhibited than when players hold team meetings, allowing them to get things “off their chest” with their teammates and soon after, the team begins winning. But few in the medical profession place much   emphasis on the role support groups can play when newly diagnosed breast cancer patients participate. When cancer patients address stressful situations in their lives (and begin the process of resolving them) the stress is reduced and its negative effect on the immune system is greatly diminished. An excellent example recently appeared in the February 4th 2015 issue of USA TODAY when a woman – Megan Schanie – told about her experiences as a survivor. “It’s fantastic,” says Schanie, 39, who helped start a support group for young breast cancer survivors in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. “Even in my own little world, I’ve noticed that we have so many in our group who are surviving.” If you’d like more information send me an e-mail – marv@mindoversports.com – and I’ll send you free information regarding how and why support groups work when putting cancer into remission. Support Groups, by the way, are not to replace any prescribed medical treatment by your physician but are only to be used as supplemental treatment.

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In the world of business, a focus group is a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging. Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members. The first focus groups were created by psychologist and marketing expert Ernest Dichter. But focus groups can also be an effective tool as a first phase when working with sports teams, providing team members with an opportunity to express opinions. The second phase is when the team transitions into becoming a support group and teammates begin to share their personal issues and problems with each other.

But it’s important to remember that these groups are successful only after participants know that their comments and observations will be kept in strict confidence and will not leave the room. Also, they are only successful as long as there is no authority figure in attendance, someone who they believe might bench them or cut them from the team for being honest. That’s why the services of an outside facilitator are so important. If there is someone in the room who can punish them for being honest, it diminishes and completely eliminates honest interaction among teammates. But when support groups are effective, teammates will begin to feel better about themselves and become more focused, resulting in their enhanced performance.

Contrary to most beliefs, you really can’t motivate another person. Inspire, yes. But true motivation must come from within and over the past 25 years I’ve found that the higher a person’s feelings of self-worth (self-esteem) the more motivated they become. If I were speaking to a group of people in a room and my job was to motivate them, the first thing I would do would be to organize them into a support group so they could talk about their personal issues that they may have been keeping bottled inside themselves and as they talk about their issues and release them, they’ll start to feel better about themselves and will automatically become more motivated. This also applies to coaches who claim to be great motivators. The most successful coaches are those who provide an internal mechanism for players to talk abut their personal and team-related issues. And once they do, their performance level will increase considerably.


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