Dr. Darlene Treese
PO Box 547
Windermere, FL 34786
(480) 296-3358

New Office Address
2295 S. Hiawassee Rd,
Suite 309
Orlando, FL 32835
Phone: 407-278-1598 Fax:407-203-0803

Dr. Dar's Weekly News You Can Use:

Bringing Sports Psychology Into Your Life

It's my favorite time of year: college spring sports in their pursuit of national championships, the NBA and the NHL down to their last 2 teams who challenge each other to greatness, the MLB season starting to take shape as injuries and unexpected performances and disappointments show the known and unknown in the league standings, high school "phenoms" making college commitments and pro teams evaluating their needs and rating the available talent. The "Dah-dah-dah, dah-dah-dah" of ESPN is heard in our house more than any other refrain!

Over the next few weeks I'll share with you some of the elements of sports psychology that bring out the best in an athlete - and allow the same principles to bring out the best in you. I'll approach it as both personal mental training for the athlete that we do in my office and what a good coach would do in that situation (knowing that we are all our own best coaches and harshest critics.)

To be a better athlete does not mean that you train harder or longer - it means that you train smarter, that you analyze the key components to your performance and that you practice mental conditioning. Typically team or individual practices are focused on the skills, techniques and fundamental strategies - the xs and os. This may be true for you in your career or the pursuit of goals that you have set. You may have lots of strategies, skills, techniques and shortcuts but very little mental training that you use on a daily basis. Yet when a coach or athlete explains why his performance was not better, the typical responses are "We weren't hungry enough," "We lost our momentum," "They wanted it more," "I got psyched out" or "I wasn't focused enough to perform well."

Many athletes perform very well in practice but not in game situations. Turnovers or poor timing or misreading relevant cues or failure to execute a specific play are not corrected solely by repetitive physical drills. The thing that changes is psychological control - your mindset. When a team loses or gains momentum, it is a psychological shift. You do not gain stamina or strength or skill or strategy during a game. When you choke or are in the flow is merely reflecting your state of mind at that moment.

Worrying about how you're going to perform leads to becoming anxious which we experience as disruption and dysfunction. This may occur before making a speech, taking an exam, meeting important people, interviewing for a job or playing the most important game of your life. Physical symptoms may be heart palpitations, muscle tension, fatigue, irritability, cotton mouth, cold and clammy hands and feet, frequent urination, visual and voice distortion, nausea and vomiting, butterflies, trembling or twitches in muscles, hyperventilation, and increased heart rate and blood pressure. Some of the cognitive cues and warnings are a sense of confusion, forgetting details, inability to concentrate, going back to old habits and negative self talk and inability to make decisions.

In the office I teach the athlete how to make his mind like water and be in a special state of concentration in which everything occurs automatically. Master of karate and aikido focus a lot on this. Many athletes have occasionally been in that zone. With the techniques I use, it is possible to learn to make such moments happen rather than hope that they will. This total concentration requires freedom from internal and external distractions. Excessive anxiety and tension from trying too hard are the primary factors that break this total focus of attention. In the weeks ahead I'll share specific exercises that you can practice daily to achieve this mind like water mental state whenever you want.

Next Week: Bringing Sports Psychology Into Your Life: Chi