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Health & Well-being

Athletes are People too

To say that the last few weeks in Australian sport have been heartbreaking and tough would be a massive understatement.  Not only has the Gold Coast professional football community been the centre of serious drug allegations but cricket royalty has also come under fire.

When things like this happen, the age-old role model debate comes to the fore.  Should athletes have different expectations given their fame and the privileges that come with it?  Should they live by different rules?  Is this expectation realistic?  Some athletes have come out publicly and said that they believe that they should not be expected to live up to the lofty expectations required of a role model.  And yet, young people will continue to idolise […]

Breathing Matters

I’ve been meaning to write about breathing since September last year when I co-delivered a workshop at the World Scientific Congress of Golf with the superbly talented Rachel Vickery from Breathing & Performance.

I’ve always had a strong interest in psychophysiology however since working more closely with Rachel it’s strengthened because I can see the results we can achieve together.

I won’t steal Rachel’s thunder by explaining exactly what she does and how she does it – she’s better placed to do that…What I want to use this opportunity for is to emphasise the importance of breathing for sport performance and the value of multidisciplinary work.

My intrigue in how the brain and body communicate has meant I’ve always encouraged and integrated strategies […]

Is Parental Pressure Always Harmful?

The formula for Performance is defined as: Performance = Potential – Interference.

One of the greatest personal dilemmas that interferes with optimal performance and negates an athlete’s true potential in their sport is performance anxiety.

Last year, performance anxiety was the number one reason athletes and their parents visited my office.  This form of anxiety occurs when the athlete perceives the sport challenge as a threat and is a significant predictor of dropout in young athletes, increases the risk of injury, and is also associated with depressive episodes.  Whilst the factors that contribute to this dilemma are complex, it is the real or perceived experience of pressure that nearly always leads to this form of anxiety.

Many parents and coaches ask me […]

Train Your Brain

One of my favourite sayings is, “If you can train your body you can train your brain.”  For me, this phrase sums up what we do as sport psychologists.  It was once believed that the brain could not be trained or changed; in other words, you were stuck with the brain you were born with.  The good news is there is now evidence that supports the idea that the brain can reorganise itself to think more effectively and can compensate for weaknesses or injury.

How do you train your brain?
Think of your brain like a muscle.  Neurons are like the muscle fibres of the brain and create pathways that contribute to thinking patterns and behaviours.  Pathways are developed over time […]

Training our Young Brains to Develop Healthy Sleeping Habits

Sleeping is an everyday ritual that is essential to our daily lives; without the right amount of sleep we are unable to function effectively.  From a very early age we begin to form sleeping habits and patterns.  These are the habits that we will take through to our adolescent and adult years so it essential that we encourage and train children from a young age of how to have good sleeping patterns and be effective sleepers.

We are all aware of the benefits of getting a good nights sleep.  Not only do you feel more alert and are able to tackle the day ahead but good sleep provides many health and well being benefits too.  Getting a good nights sleep […]

Training our Young Brains to be Physically Active

It is generally accepted that children are naturally physically active.  If you watch children in a park or in a playground they typically enjoy running, climbing, swinging, jumping – being able to challenge their physical abilities whilst having fun.  What you may not realise is that these natural physical abilities and what we class as ‘children just playing’ lay the foundations of good habits that will contribute to a happy, healthy, and active adult lifestyle.  This means we need to encourage and ‘train’ our children from a young age that sport and being active is not only fun but is beneficial to their physical and mental health.

Being involved in sport and physical activity will help build their self-esteem and […]

Support Required!

Not enough has been written by those in the sports industry (me included) about the support that is required for all of us who support the athletes to perform at their best on and off the track.  Sport psychologists tend to work primarily with the athlete directly, and therefore the marketing of sport psychology services typically focuses on what can be done to enhance an athlete’s performance.  However, this is an extremely uni-dimensional and isolating approach to athletic performance.  All human endeavours require a team effort, and the team that supports the athlete requires support to ensure that they are also performing at their best and contributing their maximum output.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase, which is literally […]

Anxiety in Youths

There has been a lot of discussion in both the media and around the school gates about the increased pressures that youths are facing in their school, family, and social lives.  The youth of today are experiencing increasing amounts of stress as their worlds are more demanding than ever before.  This is due to the pressures applied from a variety of directions – performing well at school and on the sports pitch, peer influences and friendships, their appearance, bullying, and in some cases the breakdown of the family unit.  With all of this extra burden, there has been a huge rise in the amount of  youths developing anxiety issues.  Anxiety is one of the primary mental health problems affecting […]

Three Reasons Why You Need a Balance Between Studies and Swimming

As a former Division-1 collegiate athlete I understand how challenging it can be to balance sport at a high level and maintain good grades.  Late nights, early mornings, and taking exams on the road doesn’t make it easy to strike a balance between the two areas, but here are three reasons why it’s crucial to work towards balancing your efforts in both swimming and academics.

A balance between sport and studies makes you a top candidate for any job
When you get out in the ‘real world’, you must know that companies love hiring former athletes.  This is because you are goal-oriented, no stranger to hard work, and you know how to work in a team.  You don’t need at 4.0 […]

Lasting the Distance

We have witnessed a number of incredible feats of courage and outstanding performance over the past few weeks with athletes overcoming incredible odds to achieve at the pinnacle of their sport.  One highlight was Dennis Kimetto’s world record at the Berlin Marathon and the toughness shown as always, throughout both the AFL and NRL finals series.  This weekend is Bathurst 1000, where the stage is set for more incredible feats of courage in what is arguably the most gruelling event of the V8 Supercars calendar.

What drives these performers to push human limits and overcome pain and fatigue barriers to achieve extraordinary results?

According to Angela Lee Duckworth, the answer is a simple four-letter word, grit.  Duckworth describes grit as passion […]