“Burnout occurs when your body and mind can no longer keep up with the tasks you demand of them. Don’t try to force yourself to do the impossible. Delegate time for important tasks, but always be sure to leave time for relaxation and reflection.”
― Del Suggs,Truly Leading: Lessons in Leadership
We are all susceptible to burnout, whether it be in sport, our careers, extra-curricular activities or from the business of our every day lives. There has been a lot of talk in sport about athlete burnout and it often comes up in relation to youth sport due to its competitive environment, push for year-round training and early specialization.
After researching “youth burnout” in my theoretical sport psychology class, I have come to align with Smith’s 1986 definition in which he defines burnout as:
“A psychological, emotional, and physical withdrawal from a formerly pursued and enjoyable sport as a result of excessive stress”.
"Be the best version of yourself in anything you do. You don't have to live anybody else's story."
You will often hear athletes, coaches, members of the sporting community talk about achieving optimal performance.
In the field of applied sport psychology, one of the primary focuses for Mental Performance Consultants (MPC) when working with athletes is to help athletes create, recognize and then attain their Ideal Performance State (IPS). The term itself loosely defines an optimal state of performance that encompasses both physical and mental activation and the necessary state an athlete must have in order to perform at their best and then consistently repeat.
I have included three components to identify and practise your “IPS” but first, a couple things to remember:
Everyone has a different “IPS”. What works for some, doesn’t necessarily work for...
In the NFL game today, there are a lot of better athletes than I am, and quarterbacks these days are faster than the quarterbacks have always been, they’re running like crazy. But I kind of stick to my roots of the disciplined quarterback. You know, I’m doing the same routine every week, studying tapes and working hard, getting ready to play and making good decisions on Sundays – Peyton Manning
In sport, we are familiar with the purpose of routines. We require them to function and need them for peak performance in both training and competition. When executed efficiently, they aid in preparation which leads to confidence, provide opportunities for emotional & attentional control, simulate consistency if repeated efficiently and can influence content (what is happening in the moment). And like Payton Manning highlights, commitment to routine ensures success in performance.
Depending on your sport, routines are the epicentre to achievement and are...
But first off, what exactly is trauma?
Trauma is defined as exposure to actual or threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence by:
(a) directly experiencing the event
(b) witnessing, in person, the event occurring to others
(c) learning that such an event happened to a close family member or friend, or
(d) experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of such events - vicarious trauma (DSM-V).
Everyone responds to trauma in their own particular way and just because we have experienced trauma does not mean we will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is normal to experience the following right after a traumatic event:
School and studying can be daunting, even for the best and most experienced learners. Feeling unprepared for an exam can lead to panic, anxiety, and even decreases in self-confidence. Yet, despite these consequences many students do not adequately prepare for tests and exams and wind up perpetuating their own fear and worry regarding testing. Spending hours upon hours studying is not necessarily needed or productive. Think, “study smarter, not longer”. Shorter more frequent study sessions are more likely to be productive and contribute to long-term learning. Although many students cram the night or days before a test this is not an efficient or effective way for most learners.
Although no two people study exactly the same way and no one strategy can work for everyone, there are a number of study strategies that have been shown to be effective for a diverse population.
What kind of learning style works best for you?Generally there are 4 different types of learning styles:...
“I succeed on my own personal motivation, dedication and commitment. My mindset is, if I am not out there training…. Someone else is”
- Lynn Jennings, American Long Distance Runner
Training camps for athletes are an intense experience; physically, technically and mentally that can set the tone for the upcoming season. Following our blog “6 things to consider for training camps” I touched on the importance of creating successful training camps for coaches, so it is only fitting that we prepare athletes in the same fashion.
I meet with athletes two weeks prior to and post training camp in order to set themselves up for success during the camp and after, to review outcomes. I have discovered a few common threads along the way that I continually focus on:
Brainstorm: I encourage athletes to answer this overarching question and let it guide their thought process for the exercise:
‘What do I...
Training Camps – the best and worst places for training and competition preparation. Some athletes love them, others loathe them. A necessary evil, a must and most of all, a time where both strong and weak performances are revealed and vulnerability is at its finest.
Bottom line – they can be extremely difficult and draining but rewarding all in one go. Whether you participate in an individual or team sport, preparing for big competitions is part of the process and most of all part of the sporting experience.
I have come to learn that it is in these environments (no matter what role you play as a coach, athlete or integrated support staff team member), where athlete growth takes off. It can be challenging to plan, prepare, participate and run training camps.
As a Sport Psychology Consultant, our role varies depending on what is being asked of us. Often, responsibility lies in...
A while ago I wrote about purposeful practice and had some great feedback in terms of how to share this information with youth athletes. At the beginning of February, I had the unique opportunity to put it to the test when I joined a local swim team at their yearly training camp in Maui. It was a privilege to work along side a younger, driven coach and 10 passionate and committed youth athletes. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog on “Putting the Mental Training into Training Camps”.
Over the course of the week, there was a detailed plan in place that was shared with the athletes for each training session. I took this one step further in my role and chose to engage with the athletes on an individual level for each session. Even though I was on the pool deck with them, often observing and working particularly close with the coach...
Creating visual imagery is a state of mind. It involves the reproduction of what we see. But much more that that… it becomes an outlet to express feelings about what we experience – Tracy Sabin
Early research on imagery in sport by Mumford and Hall (1985) pointed out that effective imagery must include realistic elements of an athletic performance. This means that all aspects of both training and competition should be included when practicing and utilizing imagery.
When presenting your imagery program, take time to explain the purpose of imagery to your athletes. Engage them in dialogue as to its significance, how it works (as a blueprint) and its specific uses. Each athlete should be encouraged to brainstorm individually where imagery might be useful for their particular sport, specific set of skills and elements of training. Depending on sport specific requirements, imagery can be used for technical training, rehearsal, relaxation scripts and preparation for...
Recently, a 13 year-old athlete came to our meeting in the shirt below. Sam received this gift and was waiting to share it with me. We’ve been working together for 3 months and introduction of mental skills training to his sport development has been instrumental in his injury rehabilitation and confidence. He showed up ready to train, journal in hand. The part that struck me was the level of maturity, preparation and passion for his sport that he chose to share and therefore, this simple t-shirt and conversation starter became the focus of our session. “No Apollogies”, a play on words and the brand of shirt, but at a thematic foundational level, commitment and motivation.
Lately, I have been challenging athletes to incorporate individualized planning and use performance profiling, specifically in relation to their training, competition, and development. Simple to some however, I have discovered the significance of motivation as the catalyst that puts things...