Past or Possibility?

“Do you want to create from your past or your possibility?”

This is a notepad-worthy question from Brooke Castillo’s The Life Coach School podcast.

Do you want to continue to take action based on your past thoughts? Or do you want to see what’s out there based on your possibility?

This really got me thinking. Am I creating from my past or my possibility?

I’ve always had what I thought was a healthy balance of confidence, yet knowing that I didn’t know it all. Knowing I was smart, but not THE smartest. Knowing I was athletic, but not THE best athlete. Always acknowledging that someone (or even lots of people) out there were more athletic or knew more than me.

So I was pretty confident. Confident enough. But not too confident, you know? Just the right amount, I thought.

I mean I had some goals to achieve so I needed to believe in myself, but wouldn’t want people to think that I thought I was THE best (smartest, fastest, whatever). Because obviously, I was aware that there were others out there who achieved more. I essentially put a cap on my confidence.

I thought it was healthy and humble, but as I look back I see it was rooted in insecurity and often held me back.

Can you relate? Knowing you’re good, but always afraid to really go for it.

Many of us develop this fixed mindset.  We’re told that we’re smart (athletic, talented, etc) from an early age and it becomes part of our identity. We don’t want to do anything that will make others change their minds about us. We wouldn’t want people to find out we’re frauds. We start questioning ourselves. Maybe I’m not all that people think I am? Maybe I’m an imposter? And we don’t want anyone to think we’re too confident (conceited even). The fall from that place seems way too far.

And we don’t usually even recognize that we’re doing this.

So we take our capped confidence and we settle, well kind of.

We go big by many standards, but on that big level, stay small.

I know many of my athlete clients relate to this. You’re already above average. You’re already excelling to an extent, but you’re not quite at the top. And your thoughts are likely holding you back.

Here are a few examples from my life that may resonate with you:

  • As an athlete, I was confident and skilled enough to play at the collegiate level, but definitely capped my confidence once I got there. I questioned myself. I started playing to not look bad/mess up. FYI-that never turns out well. With this mindset (and a pretty significant elbow injury), I didn’t achieve all the goals of my athletic career. I ended up being a badass pinch runner though. I’m happy with the contribution I made, but it sure would have been nice to be in the starting lineup.
  • As a grad student, I did some great work, but didn’t go for the really prestigious positions/internships.
  • As a professor, I created some influential programming and conducted important research, but always opted to publish in less competitive journals and presented posters instead of getting on stage for workshops or verbal presentations.

Seeing a trend? I certainly did. Big stages, but I often chose to stay small(ish).

Eventually, I recognized this and made a change. No more playing small for me. It was time to stop limiting myself with this pattern from the past and start creating from possibility.

Now I see my amazingness. I own it. And I get to help athletes (and parents) do the same.

However, even as I write this, I’m thinking, “Your amazingness? Oh wow Linda, that sounds arrogant.” Followed up quickly with a “Well, it’s not like I’m THE most amazing?”

Old habits die hard, right?

Is it possible to change these habits? These thoughts? Absolutely.

Is it easy? Nope.

Does it take time & work? Yes.

Can we laugh along with way? Definitely.

Our brains like the ease that comes with repeating past thoughts, even if they’re limiting thoughts. It takes concentrated effort to change our thoughts and create new realities.

Well buckle up, brain. We’re changing the game.

“Do you want to create from your past or your possibility?”

Do you want to continue to take action based on your past thoughts? Or do you want to see what’s out there based on your possibility?

I know which I choose. Ready to do this with me?

 

Create What You Wish Existed

I always have a notepad.

In my purse. In my car. At the office. All around the house. It’s a thing.

And I’m always doing personal and professional development. In my world & line of work, they’re kind of the same thing. I listen to podcasts and Audible books. I read blogs and books and articles. I go to speakers and workshops. I take online courses.

I think I have a little FOMO (fear of missing out) about it. When I’m listening and learning, I get a little this is soo good, I’ve got to get this down feeling. A little wheels are spinning, energy is flowing, I need this in my life vibe.

When this hits, I grab a notepad, because let’s face it, there is always one around. If not, a napkin or receipt will work (although not ideal and more likely to be thrown away) and I write down the words of wisdom that resonate with me.

The other day I was walking the dogs & listening to a podcast (it’s part of my morning routine). I believe it was Super Soul Sunday Conversations. Can’t go wrong with Oprah! The guest spoke about her bestselling book and how she really wrote it for herself, but others related to it too.

It got me thinking…

The day before, I listened to a different podcast, The Marie Forleo Podcast. The entrepreneur guest said, “It’s important to create what you wish existed.”

Hmmm…

I’ve actually been thinking about writing a book/resource for my clients, so when the doggies and I got home, I did what I do. I grabbed the notepad on the kitchen counter (told you they’re everywhere!) and started writing book ideas along with quotes from the podcast still playing in my headphones.

As I scribbled book ideas on the notepad, I realized…

The not-so-random-notes on random notepads are the book/resource I wish existed! I should be writing about them. Sharing them.

The notes I take are a combo of how to succeed in sport, performance, & business and living your best life. Usually inspirational, sometimes audacious, and often funny. That’s probably a good way to describe me as well. 🙂

I love the field of sport psych. I love what I do. I love goal setting, confidence, concentration, composure, cohesion. All of that stuff. I love being your best on and off the field, but I love it differently than what I sometimes see.

At one point, I almost left the field. It wasn’t what I wanted for my life or for my clients. I saw (even among other consultants) a win at all costs, always competing, always hustling for your worth attitude. That’s not the sport psych I love.

I love sport psych with a little life coaching. That’s what I wish existed when I was a competitive athlete and that’s what I provide to my athlete and parent clients today.

A little softness & some lightness, not as in weakness, but as in a laugh and be kind to yourself and others while goal getting and kicking a little a**.

If this interests you, stick around. I have some notes for you. 🙂

If you know you’re ready to chat (and why would you not be?!), schedule a free mini session!

 

Five Sport Psych Myths: Part 2

Last week in Five Sport Psych Myths Part 1 we talked about the first three sport psych myths. So you’re aware of the following:

Myth #1. Sport psych is a hoax.

Myth #2. You’re either born with mental toughness or you’re not.

Myth #3. Sport psych is only for “problem” or struggling athletes.

Your wait for the final two myths ends today! Let’s dive right in.

Myth #4. Sport psych is a quick fix.

Let’s say you’d like to improve your game. You’d like to be able to refocus quickly on the field. You see a sport psych consultant. They drop some knowledge & “fix” you. You win the championship and live happily ever after. Sounds nice, but not super realistic.

First of all, you don’t need to be “fixed,” you’re great. You just need to learn some new skills.

Let’s take my first introduction to the field of sport psych as an example. I was adapting to college life, a new team, and a new coaching style. AND I was struggling for the first time in my athletic career.

After going 0-6 at the plate in my first two games, I met with a sport psychologist. Before college, I didn’t even know it was a thing! I implemented the imagery and self-talk skills she explained and I was back on track. I went on to have a record breaking season. Super easy-peasy, right?

The part I left out is that she didn’t just wave a wand & poof! back on track, I had to do the stuff. I was motivated.

  • I spent some time each night practicing my imagery.
  • I set goals for each game and each practice.
  • I worked on my self-talk daily.
  • When I caught myself being negative, I changed it.
  • I made time to meet with my sport psych for check-ins & support.

So worth the effort. You gotta do the do to get the get, right?

To truly learn and be able to consistently implement the skills when the pressure is on, you’ve got to put in the mental reps.

Like anything, it’ll take a bit to master, but once you do, look out competition!

Myth #5. My coach teaches us mental skills so I’m good, thanks.

She has you visualize your match before you take the court. She uses positive reinforcement and helps you set SMART goals. You have great team cohesion, due in part to your weekly team dinners. You’ve even done some concentration grids to help test your focus.

I’m pumped that you have a coach who gets it. That is awesome!

It’s a great way to get an overview. Since you’ve got this background, you’ll definitely be ready to take it up a notch. Just like you’d seek out specialized coaching for the technical aspects of your event or position, you’re going to want a dedicated mental game coach too.

Even if you have the best, most supportive coach, if you’re like many athletes I work with, you may be concerned about letting your coach down by expressing concerns.

You’re probably not going to say, “Hey coach, I know this weekend is the District Championship, but I’m not feeling super confident.”

This is where your sport psych/mental performance coach comes in, so don’t worry. We’ve got your back. Your coach does too, but we don’t make playing decisions and we don’t work for your organization. We’re Team You!

Now that you’re in the know about the sport psych process, elevate your game by signing up for a free mini session! We’ll look at the specific thoughts and feelings influencing your performance and develop a mental game plan.

Five Sport Psych Myths: Part 1

The scene is likely something along these lines:

A pitcher can’t get the ball over the plate. A basketball player can’t find her rhythm. A golfer can’t make the big puts. A track athlete can’t get psyched up enough to go for the win.

You get the idea.

An athlete faces adversity and then (sometimes reluctantly) seeks out a solution. In each situation, the athlete is underperforming.

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Sport psych isn’t just for when things go wrong, it’s great when things go right too! In today’s post, I’ll cover this and other sport psych myths.

Myth #1. Sport psych is a hoax.

Would you eat nothing but junk food and expect to perform well? How about 4 hours of sleep per night? Would you still be functioning at the top of your game? What about that nagging ankle injury? Skip the wrap and the post-practice ice? Not work out a day and then expect to be game ready?

You know what you need to perform from a physical perspective. Why wouldn’t you train your brain too?

I’ve come across skeptics throughout my sport psych consulting journey. Some claim not to believe in the mental game…well that is until there’s a loss. Pay attention the next time you’re watching a sporting event. You’ll hear it from the stands, the announcer’s booth, and in the post-game interviews. The mental game often takes the blame.

“They weren’t mentally ready. Lots of mental errors out there today. They need to stay focused. He let the fans get in his head.”

Thankfully, we have a lot of research to back us up. If you’re more into celebrity endorsements, the field has that too. You don’t have to look far to find a famous athlete embracing the role of mindset. In fact, most Olympic athletes work with a sport psych consultant. There has to be some truth to it. 😊

Myth #2. You’re either born with mental toughness or you’re not.

“Champions are made not born. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

We all know stories of athletes who weren’t naturally gifted but put in the work to level up their game. Same goes for mental toughness. While of course it’s great when you don’t have to work at it; it isn’t a you either have it or you don’t situation.

You may have teammates that always seem upbeat. They can laugh and be relaxed before the game and then be fierce on the field. They take challenges in stride. A strike-out doesn’t phase them. They know they’ll get the next one.  Sometimes you’re envious of how easy it seems for them. I’ve got good news! You don’t have to be born with it or taught at an early age. All athletes, at all levels, can do this.

“Mental toughness” is actually a skill. With training, you can pick it up. Some sport psych professionals, myself included, prefer the term “mental skills” to “mental toughness” for that very reason. I’ve known recruiters and coaches to pass on an athlete because they didn’t think the player had the mental toughness it takes for the next level. This is such a missed opportunity. Just as you can develop your fundamental sport skills, you can improve your mental game. Lucky for you, this is what we do!

Myth #3. Sport psych is only for “problem” or struggling athletes.

Maybe you’re already bringing it. You’re throwing a respectable distance. You even hit a PR this season. Wouldn’t it be great if you could best that PR by the conference meet?

Maybe your game is on point, but you are a little frustrated at your roommates/siblings for not respecting your sleep schedule and need for quiet while you work on homework.

When the competition is fierce your mental game is the game changer. Sport psych skills can elevate an already great game. It helps you take things up a notch. Working on your mental skills allows you to bring your best performance to every performance no matter the conditions or the competition, because you’re prepared to handle whatever comes your way. In addition, we provide support for off-the-court concerns that may keep you from competing at the level you know you’re capable of.

Of course, we can still help when things go wrong, but it’s actually better when implemented BEFORE you’re facing difficulty. While we can start sessions at any point, the ideal time is off-season/pre-season where there’s time to practice the skills before implementing them in game situations. Just like you practice your sport before a game, it’s ideal when you practice your mental skills before a game too.

Let’s wrap up 5 Sport Psych Myths: Part 1 by looking at that beginning scenario again.

Maybe there is a struggle or concern, but maybe there isn’t.

Maybe…

A pitcher is playing well. Has a great ERA. A basketball player has found her rhythm. A swimmer gets pre-race jitters before every race, but knows it means she’s ready. A golfer is making the big puts. A track athlete is psyched and ready to go for the win.

They just want to keep it that way.

Athlete consults with a sport psych coach during the season through sessions, check-ins, and game day texts to get support as she implements the mental skills of successful athletes.

Athlete stays consistently great and can bounce back from any challenge. There is no slump, no need to “get out of her head.” Season is a success. Life is good.

If you’re intrigued and ready to get these results in your performance, sign up for a free mini session!

Train Your Brain for the Game: A Sport Psychology Overview

When I ask athletes what they know about sport psych, they usually say something along the lines of, “Not much, just that it’s about the mental game.”

When I was a professor, on the first day of class I would ask my undergraduate Sport Psychology students the same question. The answers were similar. “I’m not really sure. It’s about getting into an athlete’s head.” Every semester there was always one student who would say, “Um, it’s sports and psych,” because college students are funny.  😊  I actually do miss them!

I asked my teenage son (also an athlete) and he said (not super enthusiastically, I might add) “You do something with mindset.”

It’s understandable to not know. It’s a new(ish) field. Most people haven’t been in a sport psych/mental skills session and have no idea what to expect. Sometimes athletes are even fearful about a session. They may have a negative view of “psych” or feel like they’ve been called to the principal’s office.

At a coach’s event for student-athlete mental health one of the speakers said, “Sport psych! You’re a rare bird.” I’ll take it!

It’s become clear that people aren’t clear on what exactly we do in this field, so I thought I’d give a bit of an overview of applied sport psychology.

According to AASP, the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, the goal is to “facilitate optimal involvement, performance, and enjoyment in sport and exercise.”

First there’s the SportsCenter Top 10 side. This is geared at getting you your best performance, every performance. It’s where we develop your mental game plan. We’ll cover topics like confidence, composure, imagery, focus, goal setting (and getting), and pre-performance routines. Well meaning individuals will tell you to “focus!” but they don’t tell you HOW to focus. That’s what we do.

Next there’s the E:60, Outside the Lines, 30 for 30 side. This is about you as a person, being your best off the court, and navigating the pressure and emotional challenges that come with being an athlete. Topics like communicating with teammates, coaches, and professors, working through the mental side of injury and career transition, and developing an identity outside of sport. When you get hurt, it changes more than the game. We get this and we help you deal.

It’ll look different depending on the sport psych/mental skills professional you work with, but I can tell you what it looks like with me.

My approach is part Top 10 and part Outside the Lines. Part mental performance coach and part life coach. I know the importance of going for your goals AND I want you to love life along the way.

We’re going to evaluate your current mental skills and what you’ve tried up to this point. You’ve obviously experienced some success, because you’re here.

We’ll talk about what’s working, what’s not, and how life beyond sport is going.

Once we know where our start line is, we’ll put a game plan together.

Will we first focus on imagery? Confidence? Calming nerves? We’ll decide together.

Then we’ll start on techniques. Did you know your imagery script should be present tense, positive, and in real time? Do you have a go-to phrase to go with your re-focus routine?

Next we practice. You know that practice leads to success, but there are always up and downs.

I’ll be there for support and troubleshooting. To be a sounding board when things are tough and a coach when challenges arise. I even include gameday texts, because it’s that important.

Navigating life as an athlete has its own set of challenges, but you’re here for it and I’m here for you.

If you’d like to get an idea of what working together will be like, sign up for a free mini session!