Richard Stockton College Athletic Training

Sport Psychology Newsletter
A monthly Newsletter that will address the "mental" aspects of athletic competition. The topics will deal with athletic injury and general competition concepts and strategies.

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Doreen Greenberg is a Certified Sports Psychology Consultant, she obtained her Doctorate from Temple University in Psycho-Social Interaction in Sport and her Master's degree from Villanova University in Counseling and Human Relations. She is an Assistant Professor at Stockton. She has experience with collegiate, olympic and professional athletes. Doreen is also a member of the USOC Sport Psychology Registry.
Mind Power

By Doreen Greenberg, Ph.D

You can get MIND POWER. You can train your mind, like you train your body for sports, to do whatever you want:
•To relax and calm down before competing
•To focus and concentrate
•To build up your confidence -whenever you want

In these next few MIND POWER articles, you will get a brief overview of the mind-body connection . I'll give you some general basics of a sports mental routine. But you need to come up with your very own, unique system - one that works just for you. These guidelines will just be the starting points for developing your own mental routine for competition.

Two key points about MIND POWER:
•You definitely need to PRACTICE these mental exercises.
•The most important time for mental preparation is 30 minutes before competition.

MIND POWER NUMBER ONE - RELAXATION
During a competition do you often feel nervous? Anxious? Fearful? There are good nerves and bad. What are "good nerves"? Good nerves mean you are sharp, you feel excited, you feel motivated. A little bit of arousal can work well for you.

It is also possible to have too much nerves!
You can't think straight
You are confused
Your body feels frozen
You feel shaky
You feel weak
All of this is completely normal. It only means that you are human and that you care about what happens. But you need to learn how to get it under control so you can perform at your best.

Mind Power - Relaxation Goals
Prepare yourself to be calm and relaxed
Learn to block out the fear
Adopt a "relaxed focus"

Mind Power - Relaxation Strategies
1. A BREATHING EXERCISE FOR RELAXATION
The center for breathing is located in the part of the brain where all the centers for life are located. The actions of the heart, the blood flow, muscle activity, emotions and concentration are controlled in the same brain area. So , changes in breathing affect all these things. It is one of the quickest ways to calm down.

Breathe through your nose; focus on your belly movement in and out. "
Fix your attention on the breath going in and out. Concentrate on the point just under your nose where the breath enters and leaves. "
Each time you inhale, say to yourself "in" and as you exhale, "out." "
Pay attention to the rhythm of repeating the words. Whenever you notice your mind wandering -- gently bring it back without effort. "
Enjoy the "quiet" time between the exhale and the inhale. "
Imagine your breath flowing out in a cool stream of purple mist "
For extra tension release, end this exercise with a big, audible SIGH at the end

2. A QUICK BODY SCAN FOR MUSCLE TENSION
Take a few moments to scan your body for tension and posture. Keeping tall and upright gives you more energy.
Check your body for strain and stress by mentally going throughout your body, from head to toe and checking the tension level, from your jaw muscles to your feet.
Loosen up any tight areas.

3. IMAGERY EXERCISES
We all have the power to create pictures in our minds. We do it all the time - we daydream, we remember things , we hope for something. Here is a way to use those imagery skills for calming down.

Metaphorical Images -- For Tension Release
See the color red -- see the red fade into a pale blue.
Hear the scream of a siren in the night -- hear it soften into a whisper of a flute.
Feel yourself in a dark tunnel -- feel the tunnel opening into a light and airy beach.

4. MEDITATION
Meditation, or quieting of the mind, has been used for thousands of years
Repeat meaningless, rhythmic sounds consisting of 1-2 syllables
Do not worry about how well you are doing this technique - it doesn't matter

5. HUMOR
One of the best ways to deal with stress is through humor. When you laugh, smile, or giggle - there is an immediate biological response that releases the tension in your mind and body.

A final word about Winning! Winning should be a voyage, not a destination! You need to let go of concentrating on winning - and rather focus on each moment of your performance.
You want to be free of the need to win
That is what will give you the power
When you let go of the obsessive need to win - you decrease your stress, anxiety and tension- And increase the probability of winning

Next time - MIND POWER NUMBER TWO -Concentration & Focus
   
   
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