Probably you noticed the slide show on my new website rotating through aspects of sport performance and my mentioning missing pieces. I am concerned and believe it is past the time to offer a more complete mental/emotional fitness training model related to all sport performance.
To illustrate my concern, just the other day, I had a top-talent baseball player referred to work with me. When I asked the young athlete about his current situation with his performance, he proceeded to tell me a story of ever-increasing loss of confidence and growing anxiety and developing the yips. His story highlights my observation of the gaps, even in the 21st Century, in sport psychology/mental skills training service delivery. He, as one of thousands of young athletes, illustrates the reason why I became a Founding Member of originally, the Sports, Energy and Consciousness group…now the Evolutionary Sports Collective. We, as a collective, are focused on expanding the paradigm and introducing leading-edge methods that, when practiced, help them get out of being “stuck in their head/their thinking brain,” result in athletes of all ages continually evolving in their ability to stay mentally and emotionally fit and consistently perform their best in their sport and in their lives.
You are probably wondering what this young athlete said to me to cause me to “riff” on my observations and concerns over the past 40 years in Psychology and the last 15 years in Sport Psychology. He said, in a paraphrase, that he had always struggled with self-doubt and loss of confidence, but he ultimately had been able to get through it and overcome it. The still prevailing belief is that slumping performances happen and athletes, coaches and teams just have to get through it.
Beginning this season though, he said the mental/emotional struggles had greatly increased. When I asked what he was doing to try to resolve the troubling situation, he said he had been working with the Sport Psychologist at his school and another high-performance coach. He added they knew he was struggling; were earnestly trying to help, and yet he was scared because his mental/emotional state was worsening., He described their help as continuing only giving him advice and suggesting he stay with his positive self-talk.
In my observation, the bottom-line starting place is that we must fill the gap…practitioners must learn how to “deactivate the pre-frontal cortex”/turn off the thinking brain and reconnect the head with the body in our teaching/coaching and skill training. Mental training isn’t a cortex-only intervention. In fact, some of the leading-edge practices I teach are designed to “deactivate the pre-frontal cortex.” All coaches agree that learning to manage the mental aspect is critical to an athlete’s success. Players need to be mentally tough, keep their emotions from interfering and compete with confidence in order to handle the emotional ups and downs of sports performance. The problem is that, even in the 21st Century, almost no one is teaching anybody how to do this; the pace of evolution in delivering a whole suite of mental training skills seems glacial to me.
Here is the point of my prior narrative about traditional Sports Psychology approaches…Brain science teaches us that thoughts are energy, do you know what upset “thought/feeling energy” does to your body? Do you know that negative thoughts and feelings (thoughts linked to physical sensations in your body) can get trapped in your body and you don’t even know it? This unconscious disruption in your body then messes up your physical performances. This gives you the “disabled attitude,” where you can’t just slap positivity on unnoticed negativity in your body. So with this news, do you believe you can totally handle the mental side of your game with thinking only? I don’t believe so. You can decide to go forward building your knowledge of my expanded approach to mental and emotional fitness.