Sport & Performance

My experience at Ironman Coeur d’Alene: Lessons I learned which apply to many areas of life

In this article, I discuss lessons which I learned in training for and completing my third Ironman triathlon. I recently succeeded in completing my third Ironman triathlon and first since 2011 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Completing the 4 kilometer swim followed by the 180 kilometer bike ride and 42.2 kilometer marathon run gave me a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. The experience also taught me several valuable lessons which can be applied to many areas of life...[more]

Practicing skills: A formula for success inside and outside your psychologist’s office

In this article, I discuss how you can use the same route to success in addressing your psychological issues which you are already using in other endeavours in your life. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I offer prospective clients a free 30-minute consultation to allow them to determine whether the approach I use would be a good fit for them. In order to help people with this decision, I frequently remark that if you can be successful by learning and practicing skills in other endeavours in your life, you can be successful at using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to address your issues...[more]

Being a fan of a sports team: How to enjoy the psychological benefits while minimizing the psychological costs

In this article, I discuss how you can enjoy the psychological benefits of being a fan of a sports team while taking steps to prevent the psychological downsides. Some of my most memorable times have been those in which I have been a fan of sports teams. Team Canada’s narrow win over the Soviet Union in the 1972 hockey Summit Series brought excitement and passion to me and millions of other Canadians who watched the landmark event. In my younger days, I also regularly enjoyed going to the games of my hometown Winnipeg Blue Bombers football team which I attended with my father and siblings.  On the other hand, my support of sports teams has at times had negative effects on my mood. For example, I have recently seen my hometown Winnipeg Jets miss making the NHL playoffs and my adopted hometown Calgary Flames get swept out of the playoffs in the first round. For the last two seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays’ baseball success had me and many Canadians on a high as we followed their exploits. In contrast, so far this season I cannot bear to watch the Blue Jays as they currently sport the worst record in the major leagues. These examples illustrate that being a fan can have highs and lows...[more]

How to perform well in sport—whether you are in or out of the zone

In this article, I discuss skills to enhance performance in sport by getting in the zone and how to perform well when you are not in the zone. Top performances in sport and other endeavours are associated with being ‘in the zone’. Being in the zone, also known as achieving the state of ‘flow’, is defined by being completely absorbed in the present moment as well as in the movements and actions needed to perform at your best. It is a state of relaxation and optimal concentration in which the athlete is not preoccupied with worries about the result or other matters and is able to focus in the midst of distractions in the setting in which they are performing. Because top performance is associated with being in the zone, athletes strive to learn and practice psychological skills to help them achieve this state...[more]

How to stick to your New Year’s resolutions: Combine outcome and process goals

In this article, I discuss how goal-setting concepts can increase your effectiveness at making and sticking to New Year’s resolutions. The start of the New Year is a time when many people make resolutions involving setting goals for everything from losing weight to being a better person. And a short time after the New Year begins is typically when many of those who made resolutions give up on achieving them. Although lack of a plan is often a key factor in people not sticking to their resolutions, there is an additional reason people fall short which often gets overlooked. This factor relates to the types of resolutions people tend to make with a focus too much on outcome-oriented goals in which achieving a particular result is the aim. If people were to have their resolutions based on measures of success in addition to outcome measures...[more]

How to get back on track when you fail to achieve a goal: A cognitive behavioural approach

In this article, I discuss ways to rebound from the adversity of falling short in achieving a goal using skills from cognitive behavioural therapy. In my work as a Calgary psychologist and a Cochrane psychologist, I encourage my clients to pursue challenging goals as a way to enhance their lives. Pursuing challenging goals fosters ongoing excitement, energy and passion in your life. It also exerts a consistent positive influence on your self-esteem as you regularly demonstrate your abilities and efforts in taking the steps toward conquering a challenge. If your hard work pays off in achieving your goal, the good feelings you experience can last for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, the downside of pursuing challenging goals is that there are times when you may not achieve them...[more]

Change your automatic thoughts to improve your performance in sports and other areas

In this article, I discuss how to improve your performance by identifying and changing negative thoughts which may enter your mind before, during and after your performances. One of the most important psychological skills for athletes and other performers is addressing negative self-talk. This self-talk typically takes the form of negative ‘automatic thoughts’ which intrude on the performer’s consciousness...[more]

Heed the advice of Albert Einstein to address your issues

If what you are currently doing to make progress on your issues isn’t working, continuing in the same manner is likely to keep you stuck. In this article, I discuss how following Einstein’s recommendation that you try something different to get different results applies to working on issues in counselling. Although Albert Einstein is celebrated primarily for his accomplishments in the field of science, his influence is also evident in psychology and counselling...[more]

Rebounding from adversity: A key sports psychology skill

The best performers in sports and other performance areas are able to bounce back from adversity—setbacks and obstacles they face before and during performances. In this article, I discuss psychological techniques which are integral to this skill. One of the most important psychological skills successful athletes, public speakers and other performers possess is the ability to rebound from adversity—setbacks and obstacles encountered before and during the performance...[read more]