Sports Psychology is Key

SportMedBC CEO Lynda Cannell takes you behind the scenes with our timely Vancouver Games Blog, an insider perspective on sport medicine and science headlines and talking points this month.

For many Vancouver 2010 Olympians, mental training is key as they rely heavily on sport psychologists to help them focus and perform at their best. In an article in the Christian Science Monitor, Crista Case writes about how sport psychology has become more main stream than ever.

“In the 1990s, a lot of coaches saw sports psychology as – well, if an athlete really has trouble or is a choker, then he/she needs to see a sports psychologist,” says Sean McCann, senior sports psychologist with the US Olympic Committee, who says that now “100 percent” of US athletes are using at least some of the mental skills he and his team teach. Those skills include visualization, breathing, body control, energy management, and the use of key words to help an athlete perform at his or her best – which is the key challenge of an event that is more media-intensive than most other competitions.

“At the Olympics it’s not about getting to a new level. The challenge of the Olympics is executing. All these tools are in service of executing your skill. That’s really hard to do at Games,” says Dr. McCann. “There are so many questions, so many thoughts – thoughts like, ‘If I don’t throw my long program [in figure skating], it will be worth millions of dollars to me.’ ”

Read entire article.

One of Canada’s most successful sports psychologists at the Vancouver Games is none other than SportMedBC’s Dr. David Cox, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University. David has worked with Canada’s Snowboarding team for the past several years and the hours of hard work and miles of travelling to competitions and training camps have definitely paid off. David has helped guide these athletes to a series of best ever podium finishes, culminating today with veteran Jasey Jay Anderson winning the gold in parallel slalom. Congratulations to Jasey and all of his teammates as well as to the team of practitioners behind the scenes who helped support them, including Whistler physiotherapist Marilyn Hellier and North Vancouver strength and conditioning specialist Anthony Findlay.

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