There is an intense mental toll of reaching—and remaining—at the pinnacle of a sport. “The top six inches of the body matter just as much the rest,” says Matthew Cunliffe, a sports psychologist, who spoke with Quartz about what goes through the minds of elite athletes and how psychologists can help them win. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

In North America, support for sport psychology grew out of physical education. The North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA) grew from being an interest group to a full-fledged organization, whose mission included promoting the research and teaching of motor behavior and the psychology of sport and exercise. In Canada, the Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology (SCAPPS) was founded in 1977 to promote the study and exchange of ideas in the fields of motor behavior and sport psychology.
"When going out for fast food, I used to get the large-size value meal. Now, I satisfy a craving by ordering just one item: a small order of fries or a six-piece box of chicken nuggets. So far, I've shaved off 16 pounds in seven weeks, and I'm on track to being thinner than my high school self for my 10-year reunion later this year." —Miranda Jarrell, Birmingham, AL
Dallas Sports Performance therapists who have a special focus on sports performance and sports issues, including sports counseling, and sports psychology. Sports counseling in Dallas may include sports preparation and sport coaching, while sports counseling in Dallas addresses issues ranging from performance to stress. Sports Psychologists in Dallas will help address sports performance issues for individuals and teams.
"Are you overwhelmed by your stress, emotions, or current ways of thinking? Maybe you are struggling with anxiety, depression, a romantic or family relationship, decision, or difficult adjustment/transition period? Regardless of what you are facing, I work from a belief that all people have resilience to face life's challenges-and my role is to help you find that strength within yourself. With every client, I am genuinely interested in learning more about you and how I can be most helpful-which means I will use an individualized/customized approach, as opposed to a "one-size fits all" treatment."
During a hypnotherapy session, the therapist will bring you into a state of deep relaxation in which the critical, conscious part of your brain recedes and the subconscious mind becomes alert and focused. The therapist will make suggestions, based on your intended goals, that will take root in your subconscious mind. These suggestions should affect your thinking in a positive way and empower you to make change.
Take Rich Garvin, the CEO of an athletic shoe manufacturing company with sales in excess of $100 million a year. Despite his company’s size, Garvin had never hired a coach for any of his direct reports. He knew that his HR director used trainers and coaches, but Garvin was a finance guy first and foremost. And since the athletic shoe industry was flying high, he left personnel matters to those who were paid to worry about them. But in the late 1990s, the market for athletic shoes collapsed. In Garvin’s world, the most immediate casualty was his COO, who snapped under the strain of failing to meet sales estimates for three consecutive quarters. The COO began venting his frustration on store managers, buyers, and suppliers.
Given the relatively free travel of information amongst European practitioners, sport psychology flourished first in Europe, where in 1965, the First World Congress of Sport Psychology met in Rome, Italy. This meeting, attended by some 450 professionals primarily from Europe, Australia, and the Americas, gave rise to the International Society of Sport Psychology (ISSP). The ISSP become a prominent sport psychology organization after the Third World Congress of Sport Psychology in 1973. Additionally, the European Federation of Sport Psychology was founded in 1968.
It further identified target groups that would benefit from sports psychology, including active amateur and professional athletes; sports teams and leagues, athletes suffering from temporary or permanent injuries; as well as the family members, teammates, coaches and friends of athletes. Finally, the APA identified specific problems and the techniques that could be used to address them, including mental skills training, visualization and motivational techniques, rehabilitation counseling after injuries, stress management, boosting self-confidence, leadership and team-building training, and counseling for eating disorders or substance abuse.

Applied sport and exercise psychology involves extending theory and research into the field to educate coaches, athletes, parents, exercisers, fitness professionals, and athletic trainers about the psychological aspects of their sport or activity. A primary goal of professionals in applied sport and exercise psychology is to facilitate optimal involvement, performance, and enjoyment in sport and exercise.


The first journal “The Journal of Sports Psychology” came out in 1979; and in 1985, several applied sport psychology practitioners, headed by John Silva, believed an organization was needed to focus on professional issues in sport psychology, and therefore formed the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP). This was done in response to NASPSPA voting not to address applied issues and to keep their focus on research.[18] In 2007, AAASP dropped "Advancement" from its name to become the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), as it is currently known.

While there as many different hypnosis techniques as there are brands of cigarettes, a typical program will usually begin with a phone consultation, followed by an in-person session where the client is walked through breathing and visualization exercises and then “induced” into a “trance” — which is essentially a state of extreme relaxation. Once the patient is in the trance, and his “suggestibility” is maximized, the practitioner makes statements (“I am uninterested in cigarettes” or “I hate the smell of smoke on my clothing”) that will hopefully take root and change the client’s behavior. Then the client is “awakened,” or brought out of the hypnotic state. In short, a hypnotherapist verbally guides a client to a hyper-responsive, hyper-attentive state in which the patient’s subconscious mind (the part that tells them that smoking is cool and totally worth it) is in its most persuadable state, and then replaces the harmful or unwanted thoughts with positive, healthy ones.


“We offer internal coaching for employees going through the Emerging Leader Program,” said Jill Clark, group vice president of talent management at JDA Software Inc. “[It’s] a combination of internal and external coaching for VP-level executives going through the Fearless Leader Program; and external coaches for executive-level folks who want to be more effective.”
Returning to play after an injury can sometimes be difficult for many athletes depending on the nature of the injury. Athletes are often left with “mental scars” long after an injury is physically healed. A sports psychologist can help injured athletes cope better with the pressures associated with returning to a prior level of performance–pre-injury.
Elite athletes, dancers and singers all have coaches. It would be inconceivable to expect a person to go it alone in professions like those without one. They require consistently high performance and support. The business world is no different. Executives interact in an equally demanding environment leading people in today’s complex, competitive global marketplace. Therefore, being offered a professional coach is often seen as a perk on most jobs; it’s a sign that an organization is investing in a leaders’ success.
Get to know each other better as people so that you can work together more effectively. Create an open forum to discuss how you work best, the type of work you love to do, what you want to do more of, what you want to do less of, two things that make you smile, and two things sure to make you angry. Other fun team building activities will also help the you connect with each other.
These apps and downloads can provide a great introduction to hypnosis and do have some anecdotal evidence suggesting a level of success. However they have been cited by hypnotherapists as being less compared successful to in person sessions. They widely state that the prerecorded hypnosis downloads cannot be tailored to your specific needs and cannot adapt to your reactions to the therapy while the session is in progress.

I find it extremely rewarding to be able to make a difference in people’s lives, not just in the quality of their performances, but also in their life satisfaction and overall well-being. When athletes are able to see the fruit of their work in developing performance skills and reducing performance barriers, it is rewarding to have been a part of that process.

For many people, playing sports is a fun way to stay fit, and compete with friends and peers. A select few might also make a pretty decent living by playing professional sports. But what makes some strive to play sports, to compete? What makes some push themselves to their limits for nothing more than the satisfaction of winning? How does playing sports affect people mentally and emotionally?
Although both the organization and the executive must be committed to coaching for it to be successful, the idea to engage a coach can originate from either HR and leadership development professionals or from executives themselves. In the past, it has more often sprung from the organizational side. But given the growing track record of coaching as a tool for fast movers, "We see more executives choosing coaching as a proactive component of their professional life," says Cheryl Leitschuh, a leadership development consultant with RSM McGladrey (Bloomington, Minnesota).
Today, a sports psychologists can do several things to help athletes with sports and performance. A sports psychologist role is more accepted today as a part of the regular coaching staff for teams and for individual athletes–than 10 years ago. A sports psychologists can do are numerous, but they primarily teach athletes mental game skills to improve their performance and learning.
Research in sport psychology involves studying and observing athletes in order to find out what motivates them to keep pushing on, and what gives them the thirst for landing in the winner's circle. A sport psychology researcher might also try to find ways for athletes to perform better and with fewer obstacles. The knowledge gained through this research can then be applied during counseling sessions with athletes.
The concept of ADHD coaching was first introduced in 1994 by psychiatrists Edward M. Hallowell and John J. Ratey in their book Driven to Distraction.[8] ADHD coaching is a specialized type of life coaching that uses specific techniques designed to assist individuals with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. The goal of ADHD coaching is to mitigate the effects of executive function deficit, which is a typical impairment for people with ADHD.[9] Coaches work with clients to help them better manage time, organize, set goals and complete projects.[10] In addition to helping clients understand the impact ADHD has had on their lives, coaches can help clients develop "work-around" strategies to deal with specific challenges, and determine and use individual strengths. Coaches also help clients get a better grasp of what reasonable expectations are for them as individuals, since people with ADHD "brain wiring" often seem to need external mirrors for accurate self-awareness about their potential despite their impairment.[11]
During my work with Ashridge, my coach has encouraged me to develop my own personal brand and leadership style with confidence. His insights and experience have been highly beneficial with the right level of support and challenge to push my boundaries outside of my comfort zone. I highly respect his passion for coaching and strongly advocate his approach.
During my work with Ashridge, my coach has encouraged me to develop my own personal brand and leadership style with confidence. His insights and experience have been highly beneficial with the right level of support and challenge to push my boundaries outside of my comfort zone. I highly respect his passion for coaching and strongly advocate his approach.
That's in part because there isn't enough data. While some studies have shown positive results, they differ too much for anyone to draw a solid conclusion. Few studies that have been done over the years met HHS’s inclusion criteria, owing in part to the vast array of methodologies used. “There was no common or standard intervention technique to analyze,” the guidelines read. “Moreover, an independent review of nine hypnotherapy trials by the Cochrane Group found insufficient evidence to support hypnosis as a treatment for smoking cessation.”

Mary Ellen will be responsible for leading our global coaching practices and solutions through working with zone leadership around the world to ensure we continue to aligning our coaching process & practices to client expectations and growth with focus on 3 critical areas: • Global Coaching Infrastructure: Assessing & aligning talent and engagement processes to secure existing revenues and promote new revenues opportunities • Global Coaching Solutions: Evaluating & contemporizing existing solutions to current and future generations of leaders • New Opportunities: Integrating coaching into new Talent Development solutions and scaling regional coaching solutions for broader organizational reach Mary Ellen holds a MS with honors in Human Resource Development - University of Wisconsin-Stout and holds several professional certifications in Coaching, Change Management, Inclusive Leadership, Negotiations, Personal Effectiveness, and Developing High Performing Teams. She lives in Delafield Wisconsin enjoying most outdoor activities with her 2 daughters and 2 rescue dogs.
"Sometimes life becomes too difficult to battle on our own. Together, we can explore what events or relationships may be causing distress in your life and develop tools and skills to overcome these hardships. I strive to provide a warm and comforting therapeutic environment and convey empathy and understanding to allow my clients to feel safe and validated during our sessions. You are here, which means you've taken that first big step and I am here to help you through the rest of the therapeutic journey."

The challenges can come from a few different aspects. There is the level of difficulty that clients have in overcoming obstacles that they may be facing. Then there are outside dynamics that can make a difference, such as pressure that athletes may feel from their family, relationships, coaches, or even the media. One of the biggest challenges is when an athlete may lack some of the motivation necessary to bring change or develop a necessary skill—perhaps it was their coach’s or family’s idea that they see a sports psychologist and they are still uncertain about whether or not they want to put in the time to address the mental side of their game. Sports psychology is not a magic formula for success. It is an approach to performance enhancement that requires motivation and participation by the athletes themselves. So when that cooperation and motivation are lacking, it is perhaps the biggest challenge.
An obvious area is volleyball and beach volleyball athletes, given that those were my sports. I’m also an expert at working with youth up-and-coming athletes, starting as young as nine years of age. I really enjoy working with athletes on the origin of their fear and providing tools for them to breakthrough whatever it is that’s preventing them from getting to the next level in their sport.
In a hypnotherapy session, after identifying client goals for the session and reviewing how the session will proceed, the practitioner will use guided imagery and soothing speech to help the person to feel relaxed and safe. When the recipient of hypnosis has achieved a more receptive state, the practitioner will provide suggestions that could help the person reach his or her goals. The person in the trancelike state remains aware and is usually able to return to a more alert state independently once the session is over. Some people find that just one hypnotherapy session is sufficient, and others may attend several sessions.
The first journal “The Journal of Sports Psychology” came out in 1979; and in 1985, several applied sport psychology practitioners, headed by John Silva, believed an organization was needed to focus on professional issues in sport psychology, and therefore formed the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology (AAASP). This was done in response to NASPSPA voting not to address applied issues and to keep their focus on research.[18] In 2007, AAASP dropped "Advancement" from its name to become the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP), as it is currently known.

One study, conducted by Adam D. Galinsky and colleagues at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, found that increased power tends to make one more self-centered and self-assured, but not in a good way: The researchers found that power makes one “prone to dismiss or, at the very least, misunderstand the viewpoints of those who lack authority.” High-power individuals “anchor too heavily on their own perspectives and demonstrate a diminished ability to correctly perceive others’ perspectives,” according to Galinsky and his team, adding that, “As power increases, power-holders are more likely to assume that others’ insights match their own.”
While it’s good to be aware of portion sizes on nutrition labels, why not flip them to your benefit? For example, instead of a bowl of ice cream with a few blueberries, have a bowl of blueberries with a spoonful of ice cream. While one cup of ice cream has more than 250 calories and not much in the way of nutrition, one cup of blueberries contains only 80 calories and is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. Or, instead of a plate of pasta with some veggies, have a plate of veggies with some pasta. A mix of steamed or roasted cruciferous vegetables works great with a smaller amount of pasta. Not only does this ingredient swap cut the calories in the dish, the additional veggies provide nutrients like fiber, potassium and vitamin A.
I soon realized that Mirabella wasn’t trying to sabotage his colleagues in order to get ahead. In fact, he felt he was moving ahead too fast. Mirabella was convinced that he had only been promoted because, like the company’s CEO, he was an Italian-American. Mirabella believed that he hadn’t earned his success but had it imposed on him because of the CEO’s wish for an appropriate heir to the throne. As a result, Mirabella felt enormously anxious and angry. “Why should I be forced to overachieve just so I can fulfill my boss’s dream to keep the company in the hands of Italians?” he demanded.
The demand for executive coaching has experienced rapid growth. Executive coaching is now a multi-billion-dollar industry. All signs indicate that executive coaching is a sound investment. Studies report an impressive ROI of 500-800 percent. A study conducted by MetrixGlobal LLC, for example, reported an ROI of 689 percent associated with executive coaching (and this finding accounted for the entire cost of coaching, including the opportunity costs associated with the time leaders spent not on the job in coaching sessions). Citing similar results, the International Coach Federation (ICF) has presented a body of research demonstrating that coaching tends to generate an ROI of between $4 and $8 for every dollar invested. On the other hand, it’s important to note that Anthony Grant of the University of Sydney claims that too strong of an emphasis on financial returns can result in coaching interventions that increase stress and anxiety. To avoid narrowly focusing on financial returns, it’s important to consider the multitude of tangible and, perhaps more important, intangible benefits of coaching and develop goals accordingly.
We have created the two-year part-time Ashridge Masters in Executive Coaching in response to the emergence of executive coaching as an established and distinct profession within the international field of individual and organizational development. Our aim is to raise the standard of coaching both professionally and ethically. The program draws on theories from complexity science, sociology and psychology to come to a distinct understanding of organizations and hence the role of both coaches and clients.
Hypnosis is not a psychotherapeutic treatment or a form of psychotherapy, but rather a tool or procedure that helps facilitate various types of therapies and medical or psychological treatments. Only trained health care providers certified in clinical hypnosis can decide, with their patient, if hypnosis should be used along with other treatments. As with psychotherapy, the length of hypnosis treatment varies, depending on the complexity of the problem.
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