Practitioner: Donald Christensen
Don grew up playing golf with his family, and began to play more competitively as time went on. In high school he won four state titles in Washington State. His skills helped him get a scholarship to play golf at Stanford University (pre-Tiger he added in). He cites being exposed to some mental coaching as youngster (i.e. reading The Inner Game of Tennis) as the spark the interest that would influence his career choice.
After finishing at Stanford Don attended the University of Washington where he obtained his PHD in Clinical Psychology. During his time at UW and following Don worked with various athletic teams at the school and teams in the community. He currently works for Shoreline Community College, where he has been a professor of psychology since 2004. Additionally he works part time as a consultant for athletes in the local Seattle area.
“What I typically tell people is, if you wanted to have six pack abs could you do that in a day? Unless you are going to a plastic surgeon, that’s not going to happen. The same thing is true with mental skills…if you devote the right effort over a sustained period of time, they grow and they change.”
“Mental skills are very much like physical muscles, if you train them properly they will change.”
“By their nature, habits kind of, at least initially, operate outside of our awareness. So with this mental work…you are hopefully bringing awareness to those habits and modifying them to allow them to serve you.”
“The first stage is control by others, the second stage is control by yourself, and then the last stage is automatic.”
“The argument is the best execution of those actions comes when you move into the final stage and it’s automatic.”
“If you are relying upon reminders to yourself to do something, particularly when pressure comes it’s not a recipe for successful behavior. It’s not a recipe for high performance, in fact you will probably underperform.”
“I like the notion of a sports psychologist as a facilitator as opposed to expert. I mean ya, we have some training and some knowledge that people may not have, but I like this idea of people becoming their own coach.”
“I usually joke with athlete, I tell them that I hope you mess up majorly while you work with me because what we will do in the aftermath is we will review it.”
“When we fail, when we struggle, when things don’t go well, we often don’t want to revisit those moments.”
“What if it’s not failure, what if it’s feedback?”
“When we get excessively anxious, we are actually impairing the pre-frontal cortex. You can actually see it being inhibited, and that’s one major piece of the brain we are going to rely upon to that kind of mental talk yourself through it work. So we are handicapping the very part of our nervous system that we would need to be able to use to pull off that kind of execution. I think better to learn that skill beyond that, so that again its automatic, it’s habitual. Such that, when that part of the brain is impaired it really doesn’t matter because you are using a different aspect of yourself to do what you are doing.”
“The brain goes to what’s familiar. That’s where it wants to return. Is that good thing or a bad thing? It depends on what’s familiar.”
Study: Stereotype Fit Effects for Golf Putting Non-Experts
Research has connected stereotype threat and regulatory fit by showing improved performance for individuals with negative stereotypes when they focused on minimizing potential losses. In the current study, non-Black participants, who were nonexperts at golf putting, were told that a golf putting task was diagnostic of natural athletic ability (i.e., negative stereotype) or sports intelligence (i.e., positive stereotype). Participants tried to maximize earned points or minimize lost points assigned after every putt, which was calculated based on the distance to a target. Results showed better performance for participants experiencing a fit between their global task stereotype and the task goal, and that regulatory fit allowed for increased attention on the strategies beneficial for task performance. Interestingly, we found that performance of individuals high in working memory capacity suffered greatly when those individuals experienced a regulatory mismatch. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Author: Lisa Grimm
Dr. Lisa Grimm grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and developed an interest in psychology while at Grinnell College (B.A., 2001). After Grinnell, she attended The University of Texas at Austin where she received an M.A., and then a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology (2007). Dr. Grimm remained at The University of Texas as a Lecturer and Post-doctoral Fellow until she started as an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at The College of New Jersey in the fall of 2009. She is now an Associate Professor. Please see Dr. Grimm’s website for more information: http://grimm.pages.tcnj.edu/. For this project, she collaborated with former TCNJ student, Benjamin Lewis, who was instrumental to the success of the study. More information about her amazing students and research lab can be found on her lab website: http://misclab.pages.tcnj.edu/.
“People generally walk around with like a chronic motivational state.”
“If you are in a regulatory fit, you are more able to flexibly switch the kinds of strategies that you are using.”
“People need to be aware of the outside pressures that end up changing the underlying motivation.”
“Part of that mental toughness is recognizing when you need to adapt. It’s kind of the toughness to realize that you have to change course.”
Matt Belair is a speaker, author, podcaster, athlete and mental trainer with experience in the fields of mental fortitude, Zen, the pursuit of inner peace and positive living, martial arts, marketing, snowboarding, and travel to neuro-linguistic programming, meditation, sport psychology, life coaching, and conscious living.
Matt has travelled the world and put himself in the fire to test his knowledge and his limits. He spent time in Nepal studying meditation with Buddhist monks and survived a near death experience while trekking Everest. Travelled the world as a professional snowboard coach, trained mixed martial arts with pro fighters in Thailand. He has learned the secrets to becoming an effective and powerful leader, speaker and trainer under the guidance of mentor Michel Losier, the best selling author of the Law of Attraction, and spent time in China training with 34th Generation Shaolin Monks, just to name some of his incredible experiences.
In this podcast he discusses his approach to working with athletes and offers advice to anyone that wishes to explore and develop their potential.
“Whats the secret? The secret is bloody hard work.”
“That’s how you create your reality, one day at a time.”
“Mastery is simplicity.”
‘Mastery is so basic, it is just the right basics.”
Study: Reappraising Threat: How to Optimize Performance Under Pressure
Abstract: Competitive situations often hinge on one pressurized moment. In these situations, individuals' psychophysiological states determine performance, with a challenge state associated with better performance than a threat state. But what can be done if an individual experiences a threat state? This study examined one potential solution: arousal reappraisal. Fifty participants received either arousal reappraisal or control instructions before performing a pressurized, single-trial, motor task. Although both groups initially displayed cardiovascular responses consistent with a threat state, the reappraisal group displayed a cardiovascular response more reflective of a challenge state (relatively higher cardiac output and/or lower total peripheral resistance) after the reappraisal manipulation. Furthermore, despite performing similarly at baseline, the reappraisal group outperformed the control group during the pressurized task. The results demonstrate that encouraging individuals to interpret heightened physiological arousal as a tool that can help maximize performance can result in more adaptive cardiovascular responses and motor performance under pressure.
Author: Lee Moore
Dr. Lee Moore is a lecturer in Sport and Exercise psychology at the University of Gloucestershire, UK. His two main areas of expertise include the effect of gaze training interventions on the acquisition and refinement of motor skills and how pre-competition psychophysiological states influence motor skill performance. His work has led him to working with several professional organizations including the Rugby Football Union, Professional Games Match Officials Limited and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. He has some very exciting upcoming work involving the relationship between psychophysiological states and concepts such as resilience, mental toughness and hardiness. He is also a huge fan of Universal Studios.
“This is one of the first studies to show that arousal re-appraisal can also have a beneficial effect on motor performance, on the accuracy of motor and sporting skills.”
“We tend to view increases in physiological arousal…as something that will harm our performance…and is associated with feeling anxious. It is actually just our body preparing itself to perform a task and to perform it well.”