Developing psychological flexibility as a top performing athlete requires goal setting. With that said, my athletes are taught very early on to learn and develop the "3's for MVP's" when goal setting. What are the 3's for MVP's you ask? Keep reading to find out!
I was recently working with a young athlete whose obsessive and compulsive thoughts from their OCD was leading them to over-training and as a result of over-training, injury. The person's passion for their specific sport and the goal of making an NCAA Division 1 team lead them to develop the explicit thoughts of "something is not-just-right", which subsequently led to the development of behaviors on the court reflecting the "not-just-right" thoughts.
This athlete was getting stuck in individual workouts for hours that lead to significant feelings of sadness, anxiety and an increase risk of injury. When I began working with this goal-driven, and highly motivated individual, we wanted to focus on setting achievable goals they can work on in between our sessions. This is where I introduced them to the "3's for MVP's":
The 3's for MVP's:
1. Emotional Goals - how you feel
2. Outcome Goals - the result you get
3. Behavioral Goals - what you do
Once I introduced the 3's for MVP's, I pointed out the most effective practice focuses on goal #3. Using this model, the client began to shift the training routine to intentionally planning for X number of repetitions of multiple skills, rather than X number of successes overall. Their workouts have become more diverse, robust, flexible, and less time-consuming. And the ultimate result? The client's mood AND athletic performance have improved considerably!
On the topic of self-awareness, are you aware that self-awareness makes you impenetrable to judgment?
Say your name is John and I walk up to you and call you banana. You would most likely give me a strange look and know that I am wrong because you know your name is John. So me calling you banana is almost funny in a way because it is just not true.
This same way of thinking can be applied to judgment and self-awareness because when you take the time to get to know who you truly are and begin to understand WHY you are the way you are, when someone else judges you, it becomes the John to the banana situation. You just know that what someone else is saying is not true.
So instead of thinking "does this person know something about me that I don't?" You think "this person just does not know me so I am not going to waste my time giving them my energy".
Get to know yourself so that you can be the one that holds the power over judgments that simply do not belong to you.
Here are some of the basic things to keep in mind about Emotional Agility (EA):
You can become your own performance coach if you would just listen to what your mind and body are trying to tell you. You have the power already inside of you. Now go access it!
I am sharing this video clip for the athlete in the back who may just miss this important message.
I firmly believe that each time an athlete speaks up about mental health, they are helping to lay a foundation, brick by brick for the future of mental and physical wellness in sports. And just in this moment, two successful athletes came together, showing the rest of the world jut how powerful vulnerability and openness about mental health can be.
This takes good sportsmanship to an entirely new level and I am hopeful for the future of sports and mental health.
Persons who are clinically diagnosed with Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) tend to regulate by doing and/or reacting. To clarify, I am referring to a reaction or behavior that is often done “impulsively” as an effort to decrease symptoms of physical discomfort and irritability (e.g overthinking, worrying, fidgeting, over-eating).
This is because there is a reduced amount of dopamine in the brain and dopamine production is neither steady or abundant in the synapses that moderate neurotransmitter production.
And so, by reacting through various forms of action, the brain can enjoy a surge of dopamine, an increase in energy that improves attention, and a serotonin-based calming of restlessness.
If you skipped the lecture above and want to get to the summary this is it: The ADD/ADHD brain must work harder to produce the neurotransmitters non-ADD/ADHD brains produce organically.
In the words of Montell Jordan: “This is how we do it”...
1. Foster the courage and compassion to face your difficult and most challenging emotions.
2. Shift perspective. In other words, zoom out to take in a broader view.
3. Let go of “being right” and instead, choose curiosity.
4. Identify your why. What are your values?
5. Walk your why. Make daily choices that reflect what matters to you.
6. Grow. Take on challenges that push you to the edge of your ability, even when it’s uncomfortable.
7. Be open to change. Life changes. You change. Know when to grit and when to quit.
In recent news, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback, Dak Prescott had the courage to speak openly about his depression and grief. A sports columnist openly dismissed Presscott's vulnerability, going as far to say it weakens his leadership qualities. ESPN anchor, Scott Van Pelt responded to the remarks by using his voice to acknowledge the person behind the helmet who spoke openly and bravely about his mental health and emotional pain. Van Pelt also took the opportunity to use his platform to validate and empower athletes to speak openly about his or her mental health. Thank you Scott Van Pelt for saying what needed to be said. We must continue to build a culture within sports where we can drop the veil of shame in speaking openly about mental health. There is NO shame in mental health.
If athletes can invest in their physical and nutritional health for peak performance, can you imagine what the game could look like if they also invest in their mental health and mental performance? I am tired of the chutzpah surrounding the word “mental health” in sports which is why part of my goal as a mental health professional is to help people, help athletes through different points in his or her life through a lens of general wellness so they can work through all of their issues - things that are frustrating them, things they are thinking about. After all, in a game that is 90% mental, you can’t win the game based on physical fitness and nutritional health alone.
Dr. Meghan Braun is a professional athlete, lacrosse coach, and physical therapist helping athletes and people of all ages in Jacksonville, Florida. I loved sitting down with Meghan and having this brief talk on mental health, athletic performance, and reacting versus responding in sports. I am so grateful for professionals like Meghan who are out there helping others achieve and succeed through physical health and wellness. Check out her website when you have a chance and enjoy the video!
There is a common belief that the only way to improve performance as an athlete is to work harder than the competition. Unfortunately, most athletes will learn the hard way that hard work alone often isn't enough. The high performing athletes that I work with know that the physical side of their performance is just ONE piece of the puzzle. Mental performance is just as important. And as a mental performance specialist, working with my clients' and athletes' mental skills is a critical ingredient in the recipe used to create successful outcomes. I regularly remind my clients' to focus on mastering his or her mindset to unlock true potential.
Mindset is one of the most important yet most frequently overlooked aspects of performance. But what exactly does mindset mean? Mindset is another way to describe perspective. It is how you perceive your self-image; how you perceive the present moment; and how you view the world. A quote by Charles R. Swindoll describes mindset perfectly: "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes".
When we are faced with challenges, our mindset will determine how we will respond. In my role as a mental performance specialist, I help my clients' develop strategies to redirect their focus when challenges arise. I work with my athletes' on developing an elite mindset so that they are able to win the game inside their head and ultimately achieve peak performance.
Now before you go ahead and start searching the internet for motivational quotes on mindset, I want to stress the importance of recognizing that mental conditioning is a skill that is developed and strengthened over time with consistent, intentional practice.
You have to be in control of your mindset before you can control your performance.
Amy Pope-Latham, LCSW is a board certified mental health professional in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.