Sport Psychology

Sport psychology is a treatment approach that can benefit anyone who is performance intensive. You fit this description if you are an athlete, a college or graduate student, or a professional in a field that demands a high level of performance often under pressure. You also fit this description if you have high expectations for yourself or if you identify as a perfectionist. While there are many strengths associated with such a mindset, it can also become a detriment — in times of stress, when you have experienced personal or professional setbacks, and when you perceive yourself failing to live up to expectations. Sport psychology extends to all areas of performance under pressure, and is designed to address your issues of concern while also maximizing your ability to perform at a high level.

Removing Barriers. Sport psychology can help you work toward overcoming a problem that is impairing your ability to perform in your sport, academic program, job, or other activity. Your problem may be directly related to your performance activity, as in the examples provided below. Please refer to Clinical Focus for information about other issues that may be affecting your performance.

  • performance anxiety
  • losing focus under pressure
  • negative thinking
  • choking under pressure
  • motivation problems
  • body image concerns
  • sport-related stress or trauma
  • poor performance
  • difficulty with anger/emotions
  • athletic injury
  • fear of failure
  • compulsive exercise or work

Balancing Athletics/Work with Other Areas. When you are devoting so much of yourself to performing at a high level in one area of your life, it can often be difficult to find the appropriate balance with other important areas. One example is balancing the roles of collegiate athlete and student. Oftentimes the immediate demands of being an athlete take precedence over completing academic tasks. Another example is balancing your work with relationships and family. It can be very difficult to find the time and energy to devote to establishing and maintaining relationships when you put so much of yourself into your work. Another consideration when it comes to balance is what happens when you disproportionately focus on one area of your life, when you define yourself by that pursuit, when your mood is dictated by your functioning on that one dimension. It can be a slippery slope from triumph to despair. As a Sport Psychologist, I can help you evaluate your values, priorities, and psychological well being to determine if making some adjustments will help you function better in all important areas of your life.

Coping with Transition. Life transitions are stressful, regardless of whether they are perceived as positive or negative, and can temporarily impact you in a number of ways. Transitions are especially stressful when they occur outside of your control, such being transferred or laid off from a job, being let go by a team or sponsor, or experiencing the ending of a significant relationship. You may feel stressed, anxious, fatigued, or depressed. It is common for people to experience problems adjusting to change, which can make it especially difficult to maintain a high level of performance in athletics, academics, or in your profession. The benefit of working through this with a psychologist who specializes in sport & performance psychology is that you will have access to both clinical and performance-based expertise in the same individual. Whereas some mental health professionals are not trained to address clinical issues in the context of your athletic or professional performance, I will both consider and place importance upon them as we work through adjusting to the changes in your life.

Retirement From Sport. The issue of retirement from active sport competition is one that I can readily relate with, having recently gone through it myself. Being an athlete is part of your identity, and perhaps it is even the largest part of your identity. It is your lifestyle, with nearly every decision you make revolving around how it will affect your athletic preparation and performance. Many of your friends are fellow athletes, and much of your social life takes place during and after training. While in many ways it is necessary to have such a singular focus to realize your athletic potential, this makes it more difficult to transition out of sport. The adjustment process is different for everyone, and can sometimes cause distress, interfere with your functioning and relationships, or cause you to question your identity and your purpose in life. You do not need to go through this alone. Please read the following fact sheet published by the International Olympic Committee to learn more about Adjustment to Transition Out of Sport.

Please see the description of the American Psychological Association Sport Psychology Proficiency, which was put in place to provide standards for this area of psychology and to provide protection to consumers of sport psychology services. To read about my qualifications as a Sport Psychologist, see About Me.