When Things Are Goin’ Good

When one is feeling good, it’s time to sport psych it. If not, the athlete is like the engineer that fails to monitor speed and to be vigilant of traffic signals. He runs the train off the tracks sooner than later.

A young man walked into my office prior to joining the Harvard tennis team, looked at me, and said, “I’m good mentally, I just want to get even stronger.” On the surface, it sounds like a great athlete to work with. One problem… there was no problem. In a lot of ways an athlete with a problem is easier, it gives a sport psycher something to “fix.” Nonetheless, the “problem-free” athlete is right for sport psych. Athletes don’t show up regularly in the gym because they have weakness. They show up because they want to take their strength, speed, and athleticism to the next level. The athlete that is going good should sport psych because they want to keep it rolling… or, better yet, find their next level.

It’s about maintenance. When feeling and playing well an athlete can (rightfully) feel quite content. Perhaps he fears tinkering with what is working may take away from the good run. This is superstitious foolishness. If challenging one’s self physically and mentally led to confident and fluid play, what sense does it make to stop engaging in reflection and the nurturing of self-awareness?

Certainly mental conditioning is met with open arms when things are tough and it is time to get out of a rut. Equally important is mental refinement when things appear on track. Sport can be sneaky. Surprises can arise even during the most benign moments of practice and competition. A personal gut check and some mind maintenance assures confidence with deep roots and regular high performance.

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1 Response to “When Things Are Goin’ Good”


  1. 1 Mason September 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    So true! I’m reminded of reading about “performance spirals.” As bad things happen, more mental energy needs to be applied to prevent unexamined bad streaks. The same goes for hot streaks! Good things happening without analysis leads to overconfidence and no ability to reconstruct the hot streak.


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