I love working with athletes because of their dedication, focus, desire, and commitment. Imagine the possibilities if more people did life this way!


Introduction

Working with athletes is a natural extension of who I am and what I do. As a child and adolescent, I grew up primarily playing baseball and basketball, though any sport involving hand-eye coordination was fun. At age 10, my identical twin brother and I were good enough at tennis to be asked by professionals to focus on it exclusivity. We chose otherwise. Not having the size to be a consistent starter at shortstop on the varsity baseball team, I began playing golf instead. At age 18, I took ten golf lessons and at age 40 took three more. The rest of my game is entirely self-taught. I am currently a four handicap playing twice a week in the summer months, rarely having time to hit balls. Instead, I have steadily improved every aspect of my play by focusing on the mental game. Creating both a mental and physical pre-shot routine several years ago had a huge positive impact on my game. Today, I use mindfulness techniques as well to play more effectively.

Over the past decade, I have taught dozens of children and adolescents, whom had little or no experience, to play golf. Many others, I have taught to play at a much higher level, teaching aspects of the mental game that are rarely taught to most athletes. I have worked with baseball players, football players, tennis players, and even competitive dancers. Regardless of the sport, athletes can improve their performance significantly by learning to focus and concentrate better, manage their emotional states more effectively, become mentally tougher, improve their self-confidence, learn greater self-sufficiency, and manage their states of arousal. 

 

My Method

Focus and concentration: All of us are capable of improving our focus and concentration. Through a combination of techniques and exercises designed to increase discipline and awareness, I help athletes learn to narrow their focus to what is most important in their particular sport. I also teach athletes how to spend more and more time in the present moment. This kind of training, often referred to as mindfulness, helps them both on and off the field. The more we focus on what is most important in any given moment, the better we perform. The more we get ahead of ourselves or start to press because we are behind, the more off track we become.

Managing Emotional States: When the pressure is on in a sport it is even more necessary to effectively manage your mental and emotional states. If you are too pumped up, for example, a quarterback will have a tendency to overthrow his receiver. A golfer, for instance, will have a tendency to miss- club his shot by hitting a club that normally goes a certain distance ten yards farther. Learning to pay attention to the subtle cues of excessive adrenaline and/or fear can have a huge impact on your performance.

Mental Toughness: I recently watched Zach Johnson win a regular PGA tour event the week before the British Open. On the back nine he was several shots behind the leader but I had this feeling he would find a way to win. I was watching a mentally tough golfer, someone who knows both how to come from behind and win as well as hold on to the lead and close. Mental toughness is a personality trait that we can develop. It requires us to consistently make the decision that we will both focus on our game and never ever give up, no matter what. Win or loose the more we practice mental toughness, the stronger we get and the better we perform under pressure!

Self-Sufficiency: Many sports require athletes to make good decisions, especially under pressure. In golf, in particular, players need to commit to each shot before they make a swing. If they have any doubt or uncertainty they risk mishitting shots. Part of the reason football players practice the same drills over and over is so they can execute under pressure. The brain wires in the pattern and then under pressure the athlete is more likely to deliver. Returning serves in tennis is similar though the action is taking place at a much faster pace. Committing to the shot is crucial. Making good decisions is therefore essential in all sports. Becoming more and more self- sufficient during competition is therefore essential. The more we practice developing and listening to our own instincts, the better we perform when it counts!

Self-Confidence: All people, especially athletes perform better when they are confident. It is fundamental to develop greater self-confidence no matter what game you play. The funny thing about confidence is that it can come and go. This is why it’s so important to work on the mental game. I teach a combination of visualization, positive thinking, great preparation, and presence as a way of enhancing one’s confidence, especially under pressure. 

 

Sports Psychologist Candidates

Any athlete who wants to take their game to a higher level is a great candidate for my coaching. In fact, I have worked with Wall Street Traders on effective habits that will allow them to get into the zone easier and quicker. The principles are similar. I have similarly worked with weekend golfers to improve their scores by focusing on the mental game not the physical one. It is important to have the fundamentals down, but once you do so, a huge percentage of performance is mental not physical. 

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