Category Archives: Sports

Guest Author Ross Goldstein, PhD:
“My 12 year old son says he wants to quit his soccer team. I’m afraid that if I let him quit I will be sending the wrong message.”

"Wild Ride" by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

What exactly is the message that you fear sending? “It’s ok to quit something that you no longer want to do?” It sounds like you are afraid that you are setting the template for how your child will deal with bumps in the road later in life.

You aren’t alone with that fear. Most parents wonder what the boundaries are between encouragement and pushing, between discipline and permissiveness.

First of all, the situation you are facing is a common one, particularly when children reach adolescence. Some of their organized activities, sports, arts, theatre, and others, just don’t push their buttons anymore. It could be that they never were all that interested, or maybe other interests are taking precedence. Kids only have so much bandwidth.

Either way, the first thing you can do is to find out why your child wants to quit the team. Is it that the coach is critical? Or no playing time? Or is it just not fun anymore? The reason matters and you need to first find out what it is before you worry that you are scarring your child for life. Often, once a child has identified and articulated the itch they are trying to scratch by quitting (and you are the sounding board for that, so be patient.) they can make their own decision about what to do.

A good rule of thumb in these matters is this; a nudge is ok, a push is too much. Listening and guiding isn’t being overly permissive. It is the foundation of a strong parent–child relationship.

by Ross E. Goldstein, Ph.D. — psychologist and author of Chain Reaction, a novel that tells the story of a young man’s struggle to find himself and love, set in the world of professional cycling. You can contact Ross at his website, Chainreactionnovel.com.

Sportsmanship:
“That was a terrible call!”

"Impeccable" -- Freddie Couples by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

“I never thought about losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right.”

~ Muhammad Ali

The most inspirational moment at the National Water Ski Championships last week for me was seeing a top-seeded Men’s Slalom skier display amazing sportsmanship after having his entry gates called on his first pass. Rather than showing anger or complaining, he shrugged it off, knowing he would do better next time.

That’s not to say that he isn’t very competitive and didn’t really want to win the tournament. But once the call was made, he was able to handle himself with integrity, rather than displaying defeat and aggravation — and this at the age of 20!

To me, this young man’s ability to maintain perspective about his performance was at least as impressive as the 180-foot ski jumps and multiple back-flip trick runs exhibited at the site.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, lost almost 300 games, missed the game-winning shot 26 times. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”

~ Michael Jordan

Read “Being Chicked.”

Sports Psychology IV—Gameday: “It’s pretty cold and windy today; I don’t feel like going.”

"On Fire" Steve Mahre by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

Seth Stisher, Pro Slalom Skier & Coach:

Don’t just be competitive on “Game Day.” I hear parents always touting that their child is very competitive. Oftentimes I see these same kids getting frustrated because they can’t accomplish something in a performance-day setting without ever realizing that they didn’t do what it takes in practice to accomplish their objectives.

IF you or your child/student are sore losers on game day, oftentimes that is because you only want it bad enough on Game Day. “Want it” everyday and one day you will begin to have more success.

Alison:

Focus on the moment instead of thinking about the result you want or worrying about failure. Focusing on the present moment during every practice trains the brain to focus in the moment at a competition.

Yet, some people who are generally consistent with their performance have problems during competition because of their emotions and nerves. It helps to conjure up nerves during practice by imagining that you’re in competition. It also helps to use imagery to see yourself performing well under pressure.

Mix it up in training to conjure up some excitement and nerves. For example, in water skiing, go to different lakes, ski in different conditions, or have different people in the boat to get you used to the anxiety of skiing under different circumstances. However, there is nothing that beats getting used to the pressure by competing in a lot of tournaments.

by Alison Poulsen, Phd, and

Seth Stisher, Pro Slalom Skier and Coach
Owner of H2OProShop.com
To ski with Seth, checkout SethStisher.com

Toll Free: 866.213.7993

Read “Sports Psychology: Training and Practice.”

Sports Psychology III—Training:
“I messed up again. Oh well, I’ve got other things on my mind.”

"Emerald Paula" by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

Seth Stisher, Pro Slalom Skier & Coach:

When speaking of water skiing specifically, I always urge skiers to “Think on the dock” when working in a teaching/coaching/learning environment. But of course rehearse enough prior to game-day to be able to get on the water and execute by FEEL.

Mental rehearsal is one of the most flawless forms of practice because you have more control over your performance. Don’t overlook the value of perfect execution through mental rehearsal.

Alison:

Observe other athletes whom you would like to emulate as much as possible. Visualize and imagine yourself doing the moves.

Get a lot of good coaching. Understanding your sport well will help you get out of a slump more quickly and enable you to self-correct during training.

Focus on the moment and learn coping skills to deal with distractions during your practice. Water ski world record holder Chris Parish’s dad would shoot paintballs at him during practice while Slalom Champion Jamie Beauchesne’s dad would drive the boat around to make the water rough for practice. Both Chris and Jamie learned to deal with distractions.

Finally, it always helps to be grateful for the chance to practice the sport, especially if no one’s shooting paintballs at you.

by Alison Poulsen, Phd, and

Seth Stisher, Pro Slalom Skier and Coach
Owner of H2OProShop.com
To ski with Seth, checkout SethStisher.com

Toll Free: 866.213.7993

Read “I never get to go skiing anymore. My partner doesn’t like to ski.”

Sports Psychology II—Attitude:
“We should have won. The referees don’t know what they’re doing!”

"Precision Line" — Mariano Rivera by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

Seth Stisher, Pro Slalom Skier & Coach:

Positive attitude is good, but I believe there should be a good degree of realism in your optimism. As many mental coaches advise, setting unattainable goals is a recipe for COMPLETE failure.

On that note, accepting some failure along the way is necessary. How you accept this failure will separate you from the competition. Failure is merely a reminder that hard work and smart work are necessary for real gains.

Alison:

Our physical attitude usually reflects our mental attitude. Our bodies perform best when we are both relaxed and intently focused in the moment. Therefore, a mental attitude that promotes fluidity and power is optimal. Strong negative emotions can cause your muscles to stiffen. So, deal with errors without becoming frustrated.

Look at the attitude young children have when they learn to walk. They observe and practice. When they fall down, they get right back up and keep trying, taking physical or mental note on what worked and what did not work. The best learning occurs without whining or outbursts, but through calm awareness and presence.

by Alison Poulsen, Phd, and

Seth Stisher, Pro Slalom Skier and Coach
Owner of H2OProShop.com
To ski with Seth, checkout SethStisher.com

Toll Free: 866.213.7993

Read “Sports Psychology: I’m terrible at this sport. I can never get it right.”

Sports Psychology I — GOALS:
“I really want to win, but I never do.”

"Touch the Sky" Sir Edmund Hillary by Mimi Stuart
First successful expedition to summit Mt. Everest

Live the Life you Desire

Seth Stisher, Pro Slalom Skier & Coach:

What do you want to accomplish with practice? Ask yourself why you do your sport? You must start first with an overall objective in order to decide what specific goals will get you there. Also remember it is not always about the destination, but also about the journey.

Water skiing, for example, is a sport where you have no ability to affect your competitors’ performance to any high degree. For this reason, it is important to keep your goals and objectives focused around things you have control over.

It is also important to state goals that will yield other goals. For example, “I want to make sure I take focused practice sets where I am prepared before I go out on the water.” This goal helps with your next goal of learning to run the course by the end of the season or learning to run that next tough pass in the slalom course.

Alison:

To set a goal, you need to be clear about what it will accomplish for you in your life. If your goal is limited to proving to yourself or others that you are adequate or superior, then you’re likely to be frustrated, unhappy, and miss out on other types of enjoyment.

Do you practice your sport for the exercise or the adventure and camaraderie in a beautiful environment? For the challenge of improving your results in competition? Or for the sense of accomplishment after hard work and practice? For the occasional timeless feeling of being in the zone? Or for the enjoyment of the physical feeling of a clean move or the thrill of speed?

The more reasons you have for pursuing a sport the better. If you have a competitive goal, whether it’s going for a world record or your personal best, enjoying the many other facets of a sport helps buoy you in times of challenge and defeat.

by Alison Poulsen, Phd, and

Seth Stisher, Pro Slalom Skier and Coach
Owner of H2OProShop.com
To ski with Seth, checkout SethStisher.com

Toll Free: 866.213.7993

Read “Sports Psychology: I’m terrible at this sport. I can never get it right.”