Category Archives: SPORTS THERAPY

What Compels an Athlete to use PED’s…

This photo was taken from twitter.com

This photo was taken from twitter.com

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, Master NLP Practitioner, Certified Hyponotherapist, Dharma Life Coach, and Sports Psychology Consultant, I’ve had the privelege of working with countless elite athletes over the years.  Most of the athletes that I’ve worked with have relied on their natural born talents, work ethic, grit, perserverance, courage, self-belief, and mental and emotional toughness to compete at the highest levels of their chosen sport.  Some other athletes that I’ve worked with, however, have confided in me that they use Performance Enhancing Drugs to secure an edge over their oppostion.  They’ve told me that they use Performance Enhancing Drugs to make them stronger, quicker, and more self-confident.  Moreover, they’ve told me that PED’s drmatically speed up their revovery time after grueling workouts, games, matches, etc.

When an athlete tells me that they use PED’s to enhance their sports performance, I refrain from sitting in judgment of them.  After all, how an athlete chooses to go about the business of performing in their chosen sport is his or her preogative.  I choose to focus my attention instead on how to help them consitently get into an ideal performance state when they’re competing, how to srenghten their self-confidence and self-belief, how to partner with the part of them that feels self-doubt and/or fear, etc.  Never the less, I’ve learned through my studies and through working with these particular athletes about the thought processes they use and the Social Psychology principles that they succumb to that compel them to use Performance Enhancing Drugs in the first place.

I’ve innumerated below the different kinds of thought processes that athletes go through to justify their use of PED’s:

1) Minimization:  “It doesn’t help me that much; it just helps me recover faster so I can get back to training hard and using my God Given talents.”

2). Outcome-oriented Thinking:  “The ends justify the means.  I’d rather be an elite professional athlete with a hundred million dollars in my bank account at the end of my career than a mid-tier professional athlete who makes comparably modest amounts of money.”  Another example of outcome thinking used by athletes is  “winning isn’t the only thing, it’s everything.” With this in mind, an athlete will do whatever he’s got to do to win at all costs.

3). Rationalizing:  “Everyone else is doing it, and so it’s only fair that I compete on an even playing  field.”  While it may be true that a lot of elite athletes use steroids and other performance enhancing drugs to get an unfair advantate over their peers, it still undermines the credibility of all sports when an athlete embraces the belief, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

4) Normalizing:  “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”  “Plus, performance enhancing drugs have always been and will always be a part of the culture in professional sports.”

5). Playing the hero:  “I’m doing this to put food on my family’s plate and to give my children opportunities that I never had growing up.  I may be cheating, but I’m doing so with a nobler, higher purpose in mind.”

6) Playing the Martyr: “My coaches, teammates, and fans don’t truly care about me.  My coaches want to get paid for winning, and the fans care more about being entertained than watching players play clean.  If I’m just their entertainment, than screw it; I’ll give the fans what they want and laugh my way to the bank.”

7). Prioritizing ones reputation over ones character:  Some athletes that use PESD’s are heavily invested in how others perceive them.  They want to be put on a pedestal by their fans and be seen as larger than life to feed their egoic need for attention and adulation.  In turn, they table their conscience, forsake their values, and subordinate their character and guiding principles in pursuit of a reputation and lasting legacy.

8)  Social Proof:  Social Proof is a Social Psychology principle that says that when people feel uncertain about something, or when they see others that are similar to them engaging in a certain behavior, they’re more inclined to follow along and do what they see others doing.  Even if an athlete knows that taking performance enhancing drugs may imperil their health down the line or put them in jeapordy of getting caught by PED regulating bodies, the fact that many of their peers are doing it compels them to follow their lead.

I imagine that many sports fans have wondered from time to time how come elite athletes are willing to risk experiencing the potential long-term damage to their bodies, the potential damage to their reputations and legacies, and the potential financial consequences that will befall them if they are caught using PED’s.  I sincerely hope that I’ve offered you some illuminating insights into the minds and hearts of those athletes who choose to use PED’s in spite of all that they stand to lose if they’re caught doing so.

Thank you for taking valuable time out of your day to read this blog.

Sincerely,

John Boesky, LMFT/MNLP/CHT/Dharma Life Coach & Sports Psychology Consultant

ufc fighter myes jury with sports psychologist john boesky

Myles Jury Prepares for UFC Fight with Sports Pyschology Consultant John Boesky

Image taken from fightnetwork.com

Image taken from fightnetwork.com

As a Sports Performance Coach, Master NLP Practitioner, and Certified Dharma Life Coach, I’ve had the privilege of working on a weekly basis with UFC Mixed Martial Artist, Myles Jury, for several years now.

I first met Myles when I was invited down to the Alliance MMA gym by the brilliant head coach there, Eric Del Fierro, three or four years ago to talk to about 25 of his top fighters about how Sports Psychology can give elite athletes in any sport the mental and emotional edge that separates the best and most accomplished athletes from the rest.

As I was sharing my thoughts in front of a white board before 3 rows deep of skeptical, hulking mixed martial artists, I distinctly recall a young guy in the back row who was totally engaged in what I had to say and kept asking me question after question. As the other fighters listened and occasionally chimed in as well with their own questions, this young guy really stood out to me; his interest in what I was sharing was unmatched by anyone else in the room.

A few weeks later I received a telephone call from an MMA fighter who trained at Alliance, and he asked me if we could meet in person in my office for a sports psychology session. I’ve been privileged to work with a lot of the elite fighters from Alliance MMA, and I was more than happy to work with this anonymous guy I was briefly talking to on the phone.

Within a week, this anonymous fighter and I were scheduled to meet on a certain day at a specific time, and when that day and time rolled around, in came that young, inquisitive fighter who was asking me all those questions from the back row the day that I stood in front of the white board at Alliance MMA a month or so prior.

It turns out that that young man was none other than Myles Jury, who is currently a UFC fighter ranked among the top 10 featherweights in the world. The day that I had my first session with Myles, I think he had had only one fight in the UFC, and he was hardly considered a future contender for the UFC belt.

As I said before, I’ve been working diligently with Myles for a long time now. He’s been climbing up the ranks in his weight class ever since, and he’ll be facing Donald Cerrone this weekend to determine who will fight for the belt against the UFC’s current champion in the near future.

Prior to the bigger UFC pay per view events, the UFC and other MMA websites create videos that are designed to introduce you to the fighters and hype the fights up so fans will be enticed to pay the requisite $59.00 to watch the fighters compete.

Unbeknownst to me, Myles wanted me to be in the video leading up to UFC 182. I remember showing up to work about a month ago preparing to have a session with Myles at my office, and I was greeted by a camera crew consisting of 5 guys wanting to film how Myles and I interacted and what typically goes on in our sports Psychology session.

I’m a pretty easy going guy and pretty comfortable in front of cameras, so I decided to roll with their requests of me. One request from them was that I engage Myles in a sports psychology-related exercise to give a small window into how sports psychology works.

In that moment, I decided to engage Myles in a process called Voice Dialogue Technique. The basic premise behind Voice Dialogue technique is that we all have many parts to our personality; call them sub personalities if you will. Each part of us ( even the ones we don’t necessarily like) have loving, nurturing, and/ or protective positive intentions for us.

When we reject, bury, or disown these parts of us, they get louder, take over, and throw a coup; they run the show, and our higher selves watch helplessly as they do so.

Instead, it’s far wiser that the wisest, most decisive, and most discerning part of us run the show instead. This part of us is not so much a part of us as it is our essence. People assign this energy inside of us all kinds of names: the Watcher; The King or Queen: The CEO; The Higher Self; The Soul, etc.

In my teaching piece with Myles in the video, I was reminding him to turn to the CEO or King in him to show up before, during, and after his fight in ways that align with his core values and serve his highest good. I also encouraged him to partner with the other parts of him rather than reject or disown them.

For example, I encouraged him that if he noticed that a fearful part of him was emerging as his fight approached, it would serve him well for the King or CEO in him to thank the fearful part of him for showing up in an effort to protect him from physical harm, the fear of being negatively judged by others, etc . After acknowledging and honoring the fearful part’s positive intentions, I encouraged the King in him to turn to the Warrior part of him and let him take over and embody him before and during the fight; after all, the Warrior in him wants to serve him by rising to the occasion, performing well, and giving him the best possible chance to win this fight. In turn, the Warrior in him will give him the best chance to attract sponsors, make money, secure his future, and give him the financial freedom to live a more enriched life.

Our minds are symbolic by nature, and so they respond to imagery, metaphors, and symbols. Knowing this, I handed Myles a red and gold sword in the video to represent the Warrior in him. I wanted to remind him that it would be wise if his King or CEO summoned the courage and unbreakable spirit of his Warrior that’s waiting for his turn to serve Myles’ best interests this week.

Unfortunately the exercise that I did with Myles was edited, and so it’s likely that a lot of people may not have understood the intention behind the sword or how the Voice Dialogue Technique works.

Never the less, I thought it was important on that particular day to remind Myles of the Warrior’s heart beating rhythmically inside of him. I also wanted to remind him to partner with any well-intentioned fear that might come up for him during fight week.

Alas, even though I was given no forewarning to shoot this very small video segment with Myles as his fight with Donald Cerrone quickly approaches I think it was a success never the less, and as always, I sincerely enjoyed seeing and working with Myles “Fury” Jury!!

Whether or not Myles wins his fight this weekend is out of my control. I do know, however, that I am in his corner, win, lose, or draw, and that I always will be.

Thank you for very much for taking your time to read my blog entry; I hope that you enjoyed it!!

Warmly,
John Boesky, LMFT/MNLP/CHT/Certified Dharma Life Coach, and Sports Performance Coach

Life After Sports: How To Successfully Make The Transition

The life of an elite athlete almost always requires of them to make extreme personal sacrifices in order to attain the fame, money, status, and glory that comes with reaching the pinnacle of their chosen sport.  When they arrive, though, athletes often feel as though the sacrifices were well worth it.  They’ve climbed the summit of Mt. Everest, and the view from up top is awe-inspiring.  In addition, they’ve had friends, family, and strangers alike cheering them along the way, giving them endless praise and adulation that makes them feel beloved, extraordinary, and special.  For these athletes, it’s impossible for them to imagine that their professional careers will come to a grinding halt one day, whether it is through age, injury or exhaustion.  Father time will make his presence known to all of them eventually.

Along the way, these athletes have trained extensively and rigorously for years, and their pursuit of greatness consumes the majority of their young lives.  For most of them, they’ve chosen to make financial sacrifices, moved away from their family and friends, cut romantic ties with people they’ve loved, given up on college and academic studies, etc.  They’ve come to believe that the ends will justify the means.  While this may be true for a very small group of elite athletes, the majority of athletes are simply ill-prepared for life after sports.  They simply never anticipated that the day when the buzz and adrenaline rush of competing would come to an end; they didn’t foresee that the limelight would grow dim and then dark and they would soon feel forgotten, empty, lost, and ill-equipped to thrive in a world that demands more than brawn, size, and amazing hand-eye coordination from its citizens.  They simply never imagined how the end of a sport’s career would induce dramatic changes in their personal, social, and occupational lives.  Like soldiers coming back from war, they too must transition back into society and reconstruct new lives and adjust themselves to a new life style.

Athletes that fail to prepare for life after their professional careers are over are often vulnerable to  feelings of anxiety, depression, and a despair that runs so deep that they even commit suicide.  They feel lost and rudderless, and they are also vulnerable to suffering from an identity crisis.  Take former tennis child prodigy and 3 time Grand Slam Champion Jennifer Capriati, for example.  When her career ended as a result of multiple injuries, she said, “When I stopped playing, that’s when all this came crumbling down.”  “If I don’t have tennis, who am I? What am I?  I was just alive because of this.  I’ve had to ask, well, who is Jennifer?  What if this is gone now?  I can’t live off of this the rest of my life.  I struggle with trying to like and love myself on a daily basis.”

image taken from tmottgogo.com

image taken from tmottgogo.com

Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard famously said, “Nothing could satisfy me outside the ring…There is nothing in life that can compare to becoming a world champion, having your hand raised in the moment of glory, with thousands, millions of people cheering you on.”  Not surprisingly, Leonard struggled in retirement, suffering from extreme bouts of depression and eventually making repeated comebacks that never amounted to much.

For some professional athletes, the pressure becomes all too encompassing, and over the years there have been a number of cases of athletes committing suicide following retirement from professional sport.  This includes the tragic story of Russian Judoka Elena Ivashchenko, who committed suicide following depression brought on by her failure to win gold at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Many people wonder out loud, “What leads retired professional athletes to spiral into depression after the rigorous training, pressure, competition, and glory days are behind them?”  Three answers come to mind.  First, professional athletes become overly identified with their role as elite athletes.  In turn, they become addicted to other’s recognition that they are physical specimens capable of achieving amazing feats in their chosen sport.  While they are in their athletic prime, they remain blissfully unaware that they have many other dimensions to their personality, much like a diamond has many facets to it.  As they become singularly focused on perfecting their role as an elite athlete, they’ve unwittingly allowed the other dimensions of their personality to atrophy.  When their playing days are done, they often feel emotionally or intellectually arrested; they don’t feel whole, well-rounded, and complete as human beings.  In turn, they often suffer from an identity issues or an identity crisis of some kind.

In addition to an athlete’s loss of identity, they often experience anxiety and depression after their professional career is over because they suffered from “Tunnel Vision Syndrome.”  They spent far too much time thinking only of training, competition, and results.  As they were competing, they were likely coddled and enabled to some degree by their handlers, so they didn’t have to acquire many of the basic life skills that their non-athlete counterparts did.  Without these skills, they aren’t prepared for the “real world” and they therefore miss out on countless career opportunities.  They’re no longer sure where to apply their focus, and they can no longer fill the void with the comfort that a rigorous training routine once gave them.

The third variable that may contribute to the anxiety and depression that professional athletes feel when their career is over may be due to biological factors.  It’s well known that exercise boosts serotonin in our brains, and serotonin is a chemical in the brain that is responsible for regulating our moods.  I imagine that when an athlete stops exercising, there may be a dramatic decrease in the serotonin levels in their brains, and they may consequently fall into a depression.  In addition to a decrease in serotonin, athletes may also experience a decrease in the amount of adrenaline and endorphins that pump through their brains after they stop exercising as often as they did before.

Fortunately, there are ways for elite athletes to reduce the chances of suffering anxiety or depression after they’ve retired from sports. Emma Vickers, who is currently taking an MSC in psychological well-being and mental health, noted that first and foremost, elite athletes must reduce their exclusive identification with their sports role and expand their self-identity to other parts of their personality as well as other pursuits.  I echo her sentiments.  Like her, I believe that elite athletes must   remember, for example that they are Mothers, Fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends as well.  In addition, they must be open to acquiring new skills and reinvent themselves as doctors, lawyers, businessmen, life coaches, etc.  When they pursue other careers with the same heart, soul, and dedication that they pursued their professional sports career, the chances are high that they will be very successful at whatever they choose to do.

As they discover interests and competencies for other activities that go beyond sports, they will realize that they are truly multifaceted and multidimensional beings.  I remember watching the famous snowboarder, Shawn White, give an interview after he failed to metal at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi.  When he was asked what he planned on doing next with his life, he said that he was going to tour with his band and give a go at being a professional musician!!  Shawn White recalled how depressed and aimless he felt after he won the Gold medal at the 2010 Olympic Games, so he decided soon afterwards to become proficient at playing the guitar.  Apparently he’s a talented guitarist now, and he’s taking his band on the road to start an exciting new chapter in his life.

Photo taken from Rolling Stone Magazine

Photo taken from Rolling Stone Magazine

In addition to reducing their exclusive identification with their sports role and discovering new interests and competencies for awareness that extends beyond sports, I think it’s very important for former professional athletes to acquire stress management and time management skills.  Taking yoga classes, learning the art of mindfulness, practicing meditation, or hiring a life coach or Marriage and Family therapist are all great ways to achieve these skills.

Furthermore, I encourage professional athletes to maintain and/or cultivate strong relationships with their coaches, family members, friends, and managers who are sincerely interested in helping them to make their own personal growth a priority in their lives.  Even though elite athletes can be strong-willed and pride themselves on self-reliance, I strongly encourage them to allow others that they trust to support them in taking other avenues in life, keeping an open mind, and diversifying their sense of identity and expanding their sense of who they are and what they have to offer the world.

Finally, I would strongly encourage professional athletes to seek out the support and guidance of a Sports Psychologist to explore a wide range of adaptation techniques.  A Sports Psychologist can help an athlete to let go of their need to maintain the public’s perception of what they were when they were performing in their athletic prime.  A sports Psychologist can help them accept that they no longer have to be fitter, stronger, faster, and happier than everyone else; life doesn’t need to feel like a never-ending series of competitions.  They can cast aside their warrior mask and let go of any shame or embarrassment they feel around feeling vulnerable, and they can instead learn to embrace their own humanity.  They must come to realize that they are only human after all.

 

 

RESILIENCE: FALL DOWN 7 TIMES, GET UP 8

image taken from watoday.com.AU

image taken from watoday.com.AU

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, NLP Practitioner, and Sports Performance Consultant in private practice for many years, I’ve noticed that more often than not that  an athlete’s person’s mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual resilience determines how successful they’ll be in whatever athletic endeavor they choose to take on  in life.  Their resilience is that X factor that separates them from their peers.  It’s that athlete’s never-say-die attitude, their stubborn defiance to never give up or surrender in the face of overwhelming odds, and their unrelenting drive to stand their ground and keep fighting until the end that paves the way to achieving greatness.  Interestingly enough, resilient athletes who refuse to back down or go away during a competition sometimes lose.  Their tenacity, however, almost always pays off in the end.  They may lose the battle, but their opponents will remember their undying warrior spirit, and in turn they will eventually surpass their rivals and win the ensuing wars.

Resilient athletes eventually catch their rivals and win the proverbial war because their relentlessness eventually wears their opponents down.  Their unbreakable mindset and unshakable presence breaks their opponent’s will.  Much like zombies that rise from the dead time and time again after being shot at dozens of times, resilient athletes simply refuse to go away as well.  Each time they lose, they get right back up, and work even harder to chase down their opponent and finish them.  These athlete/zombies feel more positive and more determined than ever over time rather than discouraged.  They get up from defeat, dust themselves off, and vow to learn from their past mistakes.  By doing so, they get better and better.

Just when their rival thinks his or her opponent has been left in the dust for good, they can see their vanquished opponent in their rear view mirror yet again, and this leaves them reeling, wondering if their rival will ever go away.  Finally, when it becomes clear that their losing rival has every intention of chasing them to the ends of the Earth to catch them, they feel themselves starting to mentally crumble.  To them, it’s like being hunted down in the woods by FBI trained German Shepherds or blood hounds.  They simply can’t outrun them or out maneuver them in the long run, so eventually they fall to the ground, hands behind their back, and turn themselves in.  Although they were in the lead at one time, they eventually choose to turn around and throw in the towel.

One elite athlete that comes to mind that embodies this type of never-say-die resilience is tennis’ Rafael Nadal.  In 2011, Rafael Nadal was in the midst of losing seven consecutive meetings-along with the No. 1 ranking, to his arch rival, Novak Djokovic.  All of those heart-breaking matches came in finals, three at Grand Slam tournaments;  Wimbledon and the U.S Open in 2011, and at the Australian Open in 21012.  Clearly Djokovic had a strong mental and tactical edge back then.  If Nadal were like most athletes, he would have mentally folded whenever he played Djokovic in the months and years to come.  Nadal, however, is not like most athletes.  On the contrary, he is supremely resilient, and therefore his 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win in this year’s 2013 U.S. Open finals made him 6-1 against Djokovic in their last seven encounters.  It also raised Nadal’s lead in the head-to-head series to 22-15 and made him 8-3 in their match-ups at Grand Slam tournaments.

So what changed in the competitive dynamic between these elite tennis players?  According to Nadal,  a lot had to do with the four-set loss to Djokovic in New York in 2011.  After dropping the first two sets, Nadal won the the third in a tiebreaker.  He said afterward, ” A very important moment for me.  I was able to change the situation, to fight more than I had in the previous matches against him, and see a way for me to play…Run for every point.  Fight, fight for every ball.  And play aggressive.  And that’s what I did in the third set.”  In other words, Nadal harvested from him loss optimism and confidence.  Rather than wilt from yet another defeat, he decided to become even more resilient, more mentally tough, and more mentally and emotionally resourseful.

Their next match was the Australian Open final in January 2012, and Djokovic won that one too.  They played five sets that stretched over nearly six hours, making it the longest Grand Slam title match in history.  Although Nadal lost that epic match, he said afterward, ” I finished that match in Australia very happy, because another time I was able to change the dynamic.”  The next time they played, about three months later in the final at Monte Carlo, Nadal won in straight sets.  Having learned from his previous losses, this time he played closer to the baseline and looked to attack more when possible.  “After that victory, mentally, you feel more confident when you come back on the court against him, ” Nadal said.

The Nadal-Djokovic rivalry is a true testament to the power of mental and emotional resilience.  Nadal was better at the start of their careers.  Djokovic did what he needed to do to edge ahead.  Then, summoning his resilience, dogged determination, and unwillingness to be daunted by previous losses, Nadal regained the upper hand again.  Together, they have won 12 of the past 15 major titles.

There’s an old Japanese proverb that says, “Fall down 7 times, get up 8.”  As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Sports Performance Consultant, I’ve found that this is what elite athletes do.  They remain fearless, undaunted, and supremely resilient.  Ultimately, this extraordinary brand of bullish tenacity and unwavering spirit eventually causes their rivals to mentally and emotionally break.  Their resilience, mental toughness, and unwillingness to go away paves the way to their greatest successes and triumphs both in sports and in life.

If you’re an athlete who tends to fall away when the going gets tough or when you’ve lost to your rivals time and time again, I invite you to tap into the zombie spirit inside of you and stick around through thick and thin.  Become defiantly resilient, and refuse to back down or surrender, however bleak things may appear in the moment.  In the end, your fierce determination and never say die attitude will wear down your opponents and your arch rivals, and you will eventually emerge victorious in the end.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!!  I hope that you found it useful.

Warmly,

John Boesky,LMFT # 39666

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Sports Performance Consultant

 

 

 

MAKE USE OF TRANSITION RITUALS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS, SPORTS ENDEAVORS, AND IN LIFE!!

Image taken from Williamhenry.net

Image taken from Williamhenry.net

As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with individuals, couples, families, and high school, collegiate, and professional athletes.  I’ve often noticed in my practice that my clients don’t incorporate Transition Rituals into their daily lives;  In turn, their relationships and sports performances suffer.  I don’t begrudge my clients for not doing so, however.  I believe that they don’t make use of Transition Rituals because they don’t know what they are.  In light of this, I’d like to  take a moment to share with you what Transition Rituals are in the first place.

Transition rituals are periods of time that are carved out by someone for the  purpose of changing their psychological, emotional, physical, and spiritual state.  In addition, transition rituals are intended  to help people access different parts of their personality.  They’re most effective when they’re done with with intention, purpose, and mindfulness.  When we engage in a transition ritual while feeling distracted and not fully present, they fail to assist us in any meaningful way. Take, for example, the morning Transition Ritual of getting out of bed, showering, brushing your teeth, and putting on your dress clothes. If these acts are done mindlessly and/or unconsciously,  they will fail to assist us in preparing ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for the day ahead.

Mild mannered Clark Kent, on the other hand, created a Transition Ritual that worked wonders for him, and he did so with conscious intention and purpose. In times of crisis, he would  ritually duck into a telephone booth or stock room to make his transformation into Superman.  As the Superman franchise evolved over the years, his new Transition Ritual involved quickly entering into a revolving door, spinning through it at incredible speeds while changing his clothes, and emerging moments later as Superman, donning a red cape while having access to superhuman strength and superhero powers so that he could go about saving the world one crisis at a time.

We can all use Transition Rituals in our daily lives to change our state and/or to access different parts of our personality.  Take, for example, the lives of a police officer, a family therapist, and a professional Mixed Martial Artist:

If an authoritarian police officer does not engage in a Transition Ritual before he comes home to greet his wife and children, for example, he’s likely to bring the same stoic, law-abiding, inflexible mentality home with him, which would in turn cause his wife and children to want to withdraw from him;  If a Marriage and Family Therapist doesn’t engage in a Transition Ritual after a long day of working with clients, he or she may be prone to offering unsolicited advice to family and friends at home and elsewhere;  If a professional Mixed Martial Artist doesn’t  engage in a transition Ritual before leaving the gym, he may bring his warrior energy and gladiatorial spirit to the outside world and energetically intimidate people and push them away.

Alas, if only the aforementioned professionals incorporated transition rituals into their lives!!  They would be able to then to switch gears, change states, and welcome in parts of their personalities that would enable them to show up in their relationships, sports, and lives in ways that would better support their deepest needs and wants.  The beautiful thing about Transition rituals is that they are often easy, effortless, and enjoyable.  Transition rituals include carving out time before or after work to do yoga, take the dog for a walk, read the Bible, go for a run, and engage in diaphragmatic breathing exercises; People can also choose instead to listen to calming or energizing music, listen to hypnosis CD’s, engage in progressive muscle relaxation exercises, take a soothing walk on the beach, meditate, engage in mindfulness exercises, and/or engage in visualization exercises; Sometimes  transition rituals include taking a warm, bubble bath, getting a massage, or calling a really good friend on your way home from work for some laughs.

I always encourage my clients to come up with and routinely engage in transition rituals that they resonate with the most.  In addition, I remind them to engage in their transition ritual with intention and purpose.  As for me, I currently engage in many transition rituals that help me a lot both personally and professionally.  In my co-ed Personal Growth Group, for example, I use a Tibetan singing bowl at the beginning and end of each group therapy session to create a calming sound that is intended to signal to the group members that they have now entered into a sacred space, or sanctuary, within my office that is separate and apart from the noisy outside world they’ve just left behind.  In my Men’s group, I burn sage 10 minutes prior to the beginning of each group session, and I ask them to participate in a smudging ritual that is intended to cleanse them of any thoughts or feelings that would otherwise make it difficult for them to be fully present during our time together;  Because our minds use and respond to symbolism, the men in our group  find this transition ritual to be very effective in helping them to be fully present and in touch with their hearts.

If you find yourself living unconsciously from moment to moment and day to day, then I’d like to strongly encourage you to partake in a transition ritual(s) that will help you to switch gears, access different states, and summon the parts of your personality that will serve you best in the countless realms of your life;  Do so with intention and a clear sense of purpose, and do so routinely so that you can show up consistently in your relationships, sports, and life in ways that will serve your highest good and help you achieve your desired outcomes. As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Sports Performance Consultant, I would also like you to kindly note that I would be very happy to sit down with you in person to co-create a transition ritual(s) that you can incorporate into your daily life for the purpose of dramatically improving it!!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!!  I sincerely hope that you found it be interesting and informative.

John Boesky, LMFT/Sports Performance Consultant

 

 

 

 

BECOME AN EXTRAORDINARY COACH!!

Image taken from fr.wikipedia.org

Image taken from fr.wikipedia.org

As a Marriage and Family Therapist and Sports Psychology Consultant, I’ve had the privilege over the years of working with high school, collegiate, and professional athletes who compete with focus and passion in their chosen sport.  I’ve also had the honor of working with their coaches too.  I’ve worked with tennis coaches, volleyball coaches, football coaches, mixed martial arts coaches, etc.  In my work with these coaches, I’ve discovered that many of them are naturals at motivating and inspiring their players, teaching them about integrity, character, teamwork, partnership, etc.  With my help and guidance, they are able to add new insights, tools, techniques, and communication skills to become even greater coaches.  As importantly, the athletes they coach soak in their coach’s wisdom and compassion like sponges, and they in turn become better athletes as well as better people.

Great coaches that come to mind are John Wooden and Phil Jackson.  John Wooden taught his student athletes about hard work, dedication, character, teamwork, game excellence, and seeing how what goes on in an athlete’s life between the lines is a microcosm of what goes on his life outside the lines.   He led UCLA to countless NCAA basketball championships.  Never the less, his players loved and admired him for his ability to inspire them and for his unwavering belief in their full potential.  He became a mentor to many of his players and a father figure to many more.

From a Sports Performance Consultant’s point of view, Phil Jackson seems to be an excellent coach as well.  I don’t base this assessment on the number of NBA championship rings he’s accumulated over the years while coaching for the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers.  I deem him an excellent coach because of his willingness and desire to encourage his players to grow and expand as people outside of basketball.  Phil Jackson often encouraged his star athletes to read thought provoking books, practice visualization, practice meditation, and to put their egos aside for the sake of their team.  He was often called the “Zen Master”, and this was because of his tendency to blend Eastern thought and philosophy with Western thought and philosophy.  He also appeared to be a man of equanimity at times, allowing his players to make mistakes because he trusted that they would learn from them.   As a result of his faith his players, he got the most out of them.

Unfortunately, for every great coach out there, there are countless others who emotionally, physically, and even sexually abuse their athletes.  For Indiana University Basketball coach Bobby Knight comes to mind.  He often came across as narcissistic, petulant, and entitled in press conferences, and on one occasion he was caught on video tape violently throwing chairs across the basketball court in front of his own players. Even more disturbingly, there was a time when he was caught on video choking one his players.

More recently, Scarlet Knight’s Men’s Basketball coach Mike Rice and his assistant coach at Rutgers, Jimmy Martelli, resigned from their coaching positions following a physical and verbal abuse scandal.  A video broadcast by ESPN show Rice and Martelli punching, kicking, and throwing balls at players.  In addition, the video shows them shoving and screaming at them, sometimes calling them homophobic slurs.  I believe that what these men did was reprehensible and unconscionable.  Rather than uplift and inspire their players, they chose to intimidate, bully, and abuse them.

Motivating athletes to perform better by instilling fear and shame in them never works.  On the contrary, it only serves to erode their self-confidence.  In addition, it teaches them that abusing and degrading others are acceptable things to do.  As human beings, we’re unconsciously compelled to treat others the way that we’ve been treated.  Hence, it’s highly likely that some of the student athletes on the Rutgers basketball team will mentally, emotionally, and/or physically abuse someone they know sooner or later in their lives.  Thanks to Rice and Martelli, it’s very likely that one of the student athlete’s future son or daughter will be the recipient of similar abuse.

If you’re a coach and work with high school, collegiate, or professional athletes, I want to encourage you to consider meeting with a sports performance consultant/sports psychology consultant.  Do do even if you’re already a great coach because you’ll learn even more about yourself and how to be an even better coach.  I would especially encourage you to do so if you’re prone to hurting the athletes you serve when it’s really your intention to uplift and inspire them.  If you’re reflexively inclined to belittle, shame, or emotionally abuse your athletes, it’s not because you’re a bad person.  More than likely, you do this because you don’t know how of another way how to lead and motivate others differently.  Fortunately, you can acquire these skills rather quickly.  You can learn to offer your athletes words of affirmation, to praise them, and to offer them constructive criticism in ways that inspire them to change.  You can also quickly learn how to improve your communication skills, foster team unity and cohesion, and mentally, emotionally, and physically prepare your athletes for competition in ways that bring out the very best in them.  Finally, you can learn sports psychology tips, tools, and techniques that will help your athletes realize their full potential.

If you’re feeling inspired to up your game and be the best coach that you can possibly be, please call me so that we can visit in person and get to work on improving your coaching skills!!  I look forward to partnering with you and helping you achieve this very worthy goal.

Sincerely,

John Boesky, LMFT/Sports Performance Consultant

 

A champion nener the less

CHAMPIONS EVEN WITHOUT RINGS TO SHOW FOR IT

A champion nener the less

google image of dan marino

When I listen to Sports Talk Show Radio hosts and their devoted listeners, I often hear them questioning a professional athlete’s championship metal  with the following criteria in mind:  Can he win the big game?  From a Sports Psychology Consultant’s perspective, I think of elite athletes like Charles Barkley, Tony Romo, Sergio Garcia, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Dan Marino, etc.  According to  sports pundits, these athletes  lacked the X factor that  athletes with championship rings, gold medals, and Championship trophies had.  They’re the forgettable ones.  They couldn’t win the big game, which means that they will forever be remembered for having failed to summitt the peak of their sport.For a long time, it was Payton Manning who didn’t have the heart and intestinal fortitude to win the Big Game.  After he won it, it was his brother, Eli Manning, who didn’t have the heart and soul to win the Super Bowl.  After he won the Super Bowl, it was Tony Romo Phillip Rivers who needed to prove that they had what it takes to win the Big One.  So far, they’ve failed to win the Big One, and so now football fans and pundits alike have concluded that they don’t have it in them to do it.  Lebron James’s championship metal was questioned for a long time too; that is, until he led the Miami Heat to a championship last year.  Only then was he considered a champion with the heart of a champion.  Before then, however, he was a hulking physical specimen made up of  unrealized talent,   poor leadership abilities, etc.

As a Sports Psychology Consultant, I think it’s time that we abandon this black and white assessment of who has the heart of a champion and who doesn’t based on the championship hardware that they acquire over the length of an athlete’s career.  As a sports psychology consultant, I believe that the truth is, many average professional athletes have earned championship hardware, and many real-deal champions haven’t earned any.  Regardless, they’re still champion caliber athletes deserving of praise and admiration for their athleticism, their perseverance, their focus, sportsmanship talent, etc.

Sports Psychology Consultants believe that there are two scorecards in sports by which to measure an athlete’s accomplishments.  One scorecard, of course, can be measured by wins, trophies, rings, etc.  The other scorecard, however, can be measured by the size of an athlete’s heart, by his courage, his dedication, his preparation, his resilience, his mental toughness, and his willingness to put it all on the line regardless of wins and losses.  If they score high on this scorecard, they’re champions in a Sports Psychologists’ book.  Period.  If they show up on the tennis court, golf course, football field, or octagon fully prepared, mentally focused, and willing to perform at their very best, they’ve already won.  They’re already Champions!!  They’ve won the Big One by virtue of showing up and summoning the courage to leave it all on the line, win, lose, or draw.

If you’re an athlete and focus too much on wins and losses, you’re setting yourself up to feel paralyzing fear.  In addition, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure if you happen to lose.  If you measure your success based on one scorecard alone, you’re doing yourself a grave disservice.  By all means, come on in and visit with me, a Sports Psychology Consultant,  so that we can co-create a second scorecard by which to measure your progress and success.  Soon enough you’ll feel like a champion regardless of your wins or losses.

John Boesky, MFT/MNLP/CHT

Sports Psychology Consultant

Please read more on topics related to this on the Sports Psychology page.

 

ACCESS YOUR UNCONSCIOUS MIND FOR PEAK PERFORMANCE IN SPORTS

image taken from dynamicquantumcoaching.co.za

image taken from dynamicquantumcoaching.co.za

Capable sports psychologists know how to help athletes access their Unconscious Mind so that they can pool the wisdom and resources that they’ll need to perform at their very best.  Sports psychologists assist athletes in doing this by using a number of techniques, like Hypnosis, EMDR, Voice Dialogue Technique, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Emotional Freedom Technique, and many others.  Unfortunately for a lot of really good athletes, they don’t  know what the Unconscious Mind is.  Essentially, it is the part of the mind that houses memories, belief systems, values, neuro-associations, sub-personalities, and all kinds of valuable wisdom that they aren’t consciously aware of in the present moment.  Only upon reflection, or when they’ve been asked a thought provoking question, or with the guidance of a sports psychologist, do these awarenesses percolate up from their unconscious mind  into conscious awareness.

As a Sports Psychologist Consultant, I often share with my clients  that only 8% of our moment-to-moment awareness is conscious.  The other 92% of our conscious awareness resides in our Unconscious Mind!!  Think of a small house for a moment that has a very large warehouse attached to the back of it.  The small house represents our Conscious awareness.  Everything else that is stored in the large warehouse behind this small house represents the Unconscious.  Sports Psychologists like myself work very hard at accessing their client’s Unconscious so that they can use  the unlimited resources that await them there.  With the support of a sports psychologist, an athlete can get into rapport with their unconscious mind.  In other words, their thoughts, feelings, sub-personalities, belief systems, value system, and energy field all become aligned with one another, and they become aligned and congruent with their Conscious Mind.  As a result, Sports Psychologists help them to become free of tension, self-doubt, and internal conflict.  Instead, their whole mind ( the 92% and the 8%) are working in concert with each other.  They are in rapport, and they are working together to help an athlete achieve his desired outcome and perform at his or her very best.

John Boesky

MFT/MNLP/CHT/

Sports Performance Consultant

 

LANCE ARMSTRONG COULD HAVE USED A SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST

Astana Camp-13
photo credit: kwc via photopin cc

Sports Psychology gives athletes tailor-made tools, techniques, and strategies to realize their fullest potential in their chosen sport.  In addition to this, Sports Psychology gives athletes an opportunity to develop self and other-awareness.  In turn, these competitors develop a more solid sense of themselves.  They are, after all, more than just athletes and competitors.  They are multifaceted and multidimensional human beings, just like you, me, and everyone else lucky enough to grace this Earth for a short while.  They are sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, friends, etc.  In order to develop connections with others and a sense of belonging in the world, they must learn to be humble at times, vulnerable, honest, accountable, compassionate, authentic, etc.  They must learn to strengthen their character, and they must learn to show up in the world with integrity so that their words and actions are in alignment with each other.  They must discover what they value most, what belief systems serve them and what belief systems sabotage them.  They must accept who they  they are, and they consciously choose to transform into who they want to become.  Then they must then learn to align their actions today with their vision for who they want to become tomorrow.  Otherwise, they risk becoming a champion in sport, but a loser in life.

In light of the aforementioned, I’m left wondering about superstar athletes like Lance Armstrong and countless others that have reached the pinnacle of their sport only to discover that they’ve lost their dignity in the process. In the short term, they performed brilliantly in sport.  In time, though, the truth catches up to them, and it becomes abundantly clear that they were frauds all along, and that what they accomplished took place behind smoke and mirrors. In time, these athletes realize that the ends didn’t justify the means after all. They lose virtually everything:  Their medals, their sponsors, and their money.  More significantly, they lose the respect and trust of those who loved them and believed in them.  They soon become outcasts, pariahs, and damaged goods.

There are those who believe that “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”  I believe that saying is merely an athlete’s way of trying to justify his unethical behavior.  The truth is, there are countless other athletes who have become champions in their sport the old fashioned way.  They did it through hard work, dedication, self-sacrifice, etc.   Roger Federrer, for example, has won 17  Grand Slam titles in tennis, and he’s never resorted to cheating, lying, or intimidating others to help him become the greatest tennis player of all time.  Instead, he’s won his 17 grand slam titles while simultaneously earning countless Sportsmanship Awards along the way.  As a Sports Psychology consultant, I deeply appreciate his athletic prowess.  I appreciate even more, however, his character.  He’s self-assured, respectful to others, willing to be vulnerable, compassionate, empathetic, honest, accountable for his actions, etc.  In other words, he has a very solid sense of himself.  He is the Real Deal.

I believe that had Lance Armstrong sought out the help of a Sports Psychologist long ago, he would have come to believe that his talents alone would have made him a 7 time Tour de France champion.  Or perhaps he might have discovered that his talents alone wouldn’t have taken him to the top of his sport.  In this moment, he would have had an opportunity to decide what kind of man he wanted to be.  Hopefully, he would have decided that being a man of integrity was far more important to him than collecting 7 Tour de France yellow jackets.  Yet without a sports psychologist, Lance denied himself an opportunity to develop his character.  Without self-awareness and time for self-reflection, he chose to be arrogant,dishonest, and unaccountable for his actions.  He didn’t understand that performing well in sports and performing well in life are not mutually exclusive.  True champions can do both simultaneously.

John Boesky

LMFT/MNLP/CHT

Sports Performance Consultant

BODY LANGUAGE IN SPORTS

Body Language in SportsMost people already know and understand that our thoughts influence how we feel, and how we feel influences how we move and carry ourselves.  In light of this knowledge, athletes are encouraged to think positively.  These positive thoughts in turn help them to feel better about themselves, their performance, and their chances of being  victorious when competing against others.  Such positive feelings include more self-confidence, resilience, motivation, passion, courage, joy, focus, etc.  As they feel better, their body language changes for the better too.  They keep their heads up, their chests expand, their breathing deepens,  their shoulders widen, their muscles relax, etc.  Soon enough, their thoughts, feelings, and body language are positively congruent and positively aligned, and they have entered into an optimal state of arousal.  They’re ready to compete and perform up to their full potential.

What most athletes don’t know, however, is that there is a bi-directional relationship between the mind and body.  Just as our thoughts influence our feelings and our body language, our body language influences our feelings and our thoughts.  It’s very important to remember this on days when an athlete is having negative thoughts and/or feeling tired or down.  He can change his negative state by simply changing his body language, and by doing so he’ll immediately start to feel better and think more positively.  In addition, his positive body language will send a clear and powerful message to his opponent:  “I’m a fighter, I believe in myself, and I’m here to win.”

As a Sports Psychology Consultant, I want to help you transform your body language for the better so that your confidence builds, your mood brightens, your focus sharpens, and your opponent sees how you carry yourself differently, with more swagger and self-belief.  When you’re ready to make this fundamental change to your body, mind, and spirit, give me a call!!

John Boesky

LMFT/MNLP/CHT

Sports Performance Consultant