Sport & Performance

Lessons from an historic tennis match: Strategies you can use in your life

In this article, I discuss psychological skills used in the 2019 US Women’s Open tennis final which can help you succeed in many endeavours. I was riveted watching the historic 2019 US Women’s Open tennis final between Canadian Bianca Andreescu and American Serena Williams. Ms. Andreescu was seeking to make history by becoming the first Canadian of either gender to win a Grand Slam tennis tournament while Ms. Williams was vying to win her 24th Grand Slam title to tie the all-time women’s record. As much as I respect Ms. Williams for her talent and accomplishments, I proudly admit that I was cheering for my fellow Canadian to beat her. The 19 year old did so in impressive fashion, toppling in her first US Open a tennis legend who had the home-court advantage with the crowds squarely behind her. Although Ms. Andreescu won in straight sets 6-3, 7-5, the match was very entertaining and full of dramatic twists. As a psychologist, I found the match particularly intriguing because...[more]

2019-09-08T21:37:39-07:00By |Categories: Psychology, Sport & Performance|

Dealing with distracting thoughts: A good way and a bad way

In this article, I discuss the advantages of parking over thought suppression as a concentration tool. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I sometimes have clients who have difficulty concentrating because of distracting thoughts. These thoughts may be about worries regarding some upcoming event or challenge or could involve ruminating over some event or interaction which recently occurred. In these instances, the thoughts may distract the person from being able to focus on work or school tasks or from immersing themselves in an enjoyable activity which is intended to take their mind off their problems and the negative thoughts associated with them. There are two ways to deal with these distracting thoughts so that they become less of a distraction...[more]

2019-01-27T20:28:47-07:00By |Categories: Psychology, Sport & Performance|

Sports Psychology: How the Calgary Stampeders can Stay Sharp

Recently I was interviewed by sports journalist Ryan Ballantine of 3DownNation to look at how the Calgary Stampeders can stay focused on their road to winning the Grey Cup. We go over strategies on how to stay motivated when you’ve already made it to the playoffs. Even if you’re not a football fan, or compete in different sports, the core of the message will apply. Check out the full article at: h [...]

2019-05-22T14:46:09-07:00By |Categories: In the Media, Sport & Performance|

Inspiration from M*A*S*H: How to persevere to overcome adversity

In this article, I discuss how the key to success is often continuing to try ideas until you find the ones that work. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often get inspired by ideas from the media to help clients. One memorable example came from the long-running television show based on the Korean war called M*A*S*H which is set in a mobile army surgical hospital. Although the program originally aired many years ago, it still appears in reruns. One M*A*S*H episode was so moving in its focus on resilience and perseverance that it inspires me to keep going when I feel like giving up...[more]

2018-08-12T21:58:42-07:00By |Categories: Depression, Sport & Performance|

Burnout: How to prevent it and recover from it

In this article, I discuss how to avert and address burnout at work, sports and other activities. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often encounter clients who are suffering from burnout as a result of activities they are engaged in including work and sports. The primary symptoms of burnout are physical and mental exhaustion, actual and perceived decreases in effectiveness and negative attitudes toward the activity. These symptoms often lead to people quitting activities...[more]

2018-06-17T22:22:41-07:00By |Categories: Sport & Performance, Stress|

Dr. Pat on the Arena Podcast

The June 2nd episode of The Arena Podcast with co-Hosts Joe McFarland and Dave McIvor features a conversation with former Stampeders quarterback Andrew Buckley about how being a football player was kind of his Plan B. Also, psychologist Dr. Patrick Keelan discusses burnout in athletes.

2019-05-22T14:46:09-07:00By |Categories: In the Media, Podcast, Sport & Performance|

Tracking progress in rebuilding a relationship: Like in a marathon or a triathlon

In this article, I discuss how the approach to tracking progress in a marathon or a triathlon can be helpful in rebuilding a relationship. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I help many clients improve their relationships in couples counselling. In some instances, the relationship has deteriorated so much that one or both partners have very little motivation to work on skills to improve the relationship and may even be considering getting out. At such a dire point, the partners may believe that they do not have the energy to work on the relationship. They may additionally believe that even if they were both willing to work on the relationship, there would be little point in doing so given the relationship’s current hopeless state. In these apparently pessimistic circumstances, I try to be realistically optimistic with the couples with whom I am working...[more]

2018-03-25T21:24:57-07:00By |Categories: Relationships, Sport & Performance|

What to do if you’ve decided that therapy doesn’t work for you

In this article, I discuss how to proceed when you’ve determined that therapy doesn’t work for you. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I often get clients or prospective clients who are reluctant to proceed with therapy, a particular form of therapy or a specific therapy technique because they have determined either that ‘it doesn’t work’ or ‘it doesn’t work for me’. Such beliefs about therapy, forms of therapy or therapy techniques not working at all or not working for the individual may be in many instances inaccurate. More importantly, these negative beliefs can interfere with the individual making progress in therapy going forward. In the following sections, I will discuss why these negative beliefs about therapy can interfere with progress and how to change them to beliefs which are more conducive to success...[more]

2018-02-25T21:38:54-07:00By |Categories: Psychology, Sport & Performance|

How to enhance your performance in front of an audience: Use the social facilitation effect

In this article, I discuss how you can channel your nervousness in front of an audience into a tool which can spur you to better performances. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, clients sometimes seek my help in being able to perform effectively in front of an audience. This issue is relevant to clients who engage in activities such as public speaking, acting, singing, music and sports, to name just a few endeavours which can involve public performing. These clients often seek help in coping with nervousness they experience when performing in front of audiences, citing instances in which they performed poorly and even ‘choked’ as a result of the pressure they felt from having people watch them perform. In helping these clients, I raise with them the possibility that applying psychological skills and knowledge may not only help them to perform well in spite of an audience watching them, it may actually spur them to a better performance. This notion is referred to in psychological research as the ‘social facilitation effect’...[more]

2017-11-05T20:42:06-07:00By |Categories: Anxiety, Sport & Performance|

Pleasure and mastery: Two kinds of activities are better than one

In this article, I discuss why it is important to include both pleasure and mastery activities in your routine. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I encourage my clients to have two types of activities in their spare-time routines--pleasure and mastery. Pleasure activities are enjoyable and relaxing ones which help you to de-stress and typically do not involve performing or being evaluated. These can be individual pleasure activities like meditation, listening to music, watching a movie or reading a novel. Pleasure activities can also include social interaction such as having coffee with a friend or going to a movie with a group. Mastery activities are those which entail performance of a task which requires use of your skills and talents.,,[more]

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