Monday, February 16, 2015

Keep Your Head In The Game - A Guest Post

Throughout the history of our blog, we have written about the psychological impact that injuries can have on an athlete.  Several recent studies have highlighted this fact.  In 2012 McCullough et al showed that one of the factors influencing an athlete’s ability to return to sport is an athlete’s confidence.  Psychologically do they have confidence in their limb, control of that limb and have ability to move to that side explosively without fear.  In 2013 Ardern et al found several psychological factors associated with return to sport including psychological readiness, fear and sport locus control.  All of these played a major factor in the ability of the athlete to return to sport safely. 

Building on that, we are honored to have Paul Cartone, LMHC as a guest blogger to further address the athlete psychology.  As a licensed counselor and sports performance coach for over 16 years, Paul has a unique perspective on developing the mind of the champion athlete.  Thank you Paul for this blog for we truly believe, we often under value the mindset of the injured athlete as well as the healthy athlete.

Keep Your Head In The Game!

Developing the mind of a champion athlete is just as important as training physically. To reach your full potential as an athlete, you have to start training your mind. Just as you develop physical skills and techniques, you must learn to develop mental skills. In the world of sports psychology, mental skills include:
  • Staying relaxed under pressure
  • Being in the present
  • Focusing on what’s important
  • Letting go of mistakes
  • Letting go of bad breaks and failures
  • Handling self-doubts and negative thinking
  • Using visualization for upcoming event
  • Self-motivation
  • Ability to recognizing mental traps and avoiding them
  • Developing self-confidence

These mental skills will be difficult to master if you are not “Emotionally Fit.”
Emotional fitness is defined as the state wherein the mind is capable of staying away from negative thoughts and can focus on creative and constructive tasks. Being emotionally fit is the key to success in all aspects of life especially as an athlete. Unresolved, negative emotions can weigh you down, prevent success, drain you of the energy you need to be productive daily and limit your performance.

So what does this have to do with sports performance? Everything. Ultimately, we want congruency between our logic and emotions. If there is conflict between the two, this will cause problems; if not sooner than definitely later. Our toxic emotions can take over our logic, creating self-doubt, fears and lack of confidence. We want our logic to lead the way with a clear vision and plan to achieve our goals. An “Emotionally Fit Self” supports and feeds our logic with confidence and positive feelings.

There are some athletes that use athletics as an escape from their unhealthy environment. These athletes may argue they will lose their “competitive edge” if the negative emotions or anger they harbor is resolved. They believe those negative feelings are fueling them to become a better athlete, stronger mentally, and more competitive. Quite the opposite happens. Over time, the negative emotions take over and pose problems. The negative emotions win and personal problems begin to interfere with their sports performance. Negative toxic emotions take over their logic.

A current professional golfer (name withheld) is a perfect example of this. This golfer is having a lot of problems with his game, especially his short game. He was trained at a young age to have the mental skills to be a champion and based on his incredible success was “Emotionally Fit.” Or was he? There was a reason and deep rooted cause for his infidelity and sex addiction that came out in 2010 which led to his demise.  This has caused his professional sports career to plummet.  Most recently he blames his “injuries” on his poor play but one may argue he is not “Emotionally Fit.” His logic tells him he has all the physical ability in the world, but his unresolved negative toxic emotions are wreaking havoc and taking over to the point he cannot perform like he used to.

So you may be asking yourself, “How do I become emotionally fit?” Here is a simple test to see if you are emotionally fit. Answer some of these questions:

  • Can I think of the past (as far back as infancy until now) and feel ok?
  • Is there a negative emotion associated with some past event that I don't want to deal with and keep burying?
  • Is there something that's plaguing me and I can't identify what it is?
  • Is there someone I have not forgiven in my life? 
  • Do I tend to see the glass half empty instead of half full?
  • Am I sad much of the time?
  • Is my current stress level high?
  • Am I easily agitated or angered?
  • Am I lacking confidence in my personal life and in my sport?

If you answered yes to any of these questions or you felt an “emotional charge,” then you need some work to resolve and become “Emotionally Fit.” If you do, it will require some work on your part with a professional Psychotherapist or Sports Performance Coach.

I have been helping people become emotionally fit for 16 years and have developed a system that will get you where you want to be quickly. With the use of traditional methods and an alternative cutting edge techniques you will get to a place of resolution. As a result, every aspect of your life will improve. It takes a strong person to resolve and deal with their emotions. Becoming “Emotionally Fit” brings you back to why you play your sport in the first place. For the love of the game! 

For more information on what an emotional cleanse is and various techniques, check out my website and receive half off by mentioning this article.  Not matter what, if you are not “Emotionally Fit”, make sure you seek guidance from a qualified Psychotherapist or Sports Performance Coach.

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