Thursday, May 24, 2018

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Sport Psychology: Exposed!

Adrienne Langelier, MA, LPC

Sport Psychology? What? Not for me, thanks. I’m fine.

While we’re making progress, that response still comes up way more than it should. Say we suggest using a sports dietician, physical therapist, trainer, etc., the response will still likely be less polarized. And that’s a shame.
Why is this happening? Well, there exist some common myths about sport psychology the field of sport psychology and its objectives. Athletes (often very famous, accomplished ones) who use sport psychology professionals and principles will likely disagree with the opening statement of this post-and for good reason. I always find it fun to flip original ideas about what sport psychology consulting is actually like and about early on in my work with my athletes. And yes, many now-believers were once doubters.

Now for the fun part-taking these misconceptions and flipping them on their heads. (no pun intended, ok, kind of!)

1.       “Don’t be a head case.”

Myth: Sport Psych is for problems or athletes with them

Truth: Sport psychology consultants help good athletes become great.

Oh, and guess what? Good athletes are able to acknowledge difficulties and learn to work through them. Sometimes with help. But you in no way have to be struggling, slumping, or yipping. If you are, that’s ok too. You’re still normal.

If you’re seeing a sport psych or related professional., it’s because you’re committed to gaining an edge; it’s not because there’s something wrong with you.

More and more, athletics programs and coaches embrace the value of sport psychology. It’s becoming more mainstream in programs, such as universities and Olympic Committees which in turn changes the viewpoints of athletes when it comes to using sport psych.

2. “I tried it and it didn’t work.”

Myth: Sport Psych work is a quick fix.

Truth: developing new habits and skills takes time and commitment, just like perfecting physical skills, or eating healthy. You cannot just go do one weights session and get ripped, or can’t eat one healthy meal and become healthier. Sorry folks, doesn’t work that way.

Sessions with consultants can be anywhere from 15-20 minutes to over an hour, depending on what you need and the circumstances. They can be held on the field, golf course, in an office, or in the bleachers. Honestly, one of my favorite places to meet athletes is the local coffee shop if they’re cool with that.

 It’s really flexible. I get comments all the time from social media followers about how I’m “everywhere”. That’s because my field takes me places and helps me serve my athletes best. Spending time on your mental game, in fact, can be integrated fairly easily into your life and routine.

Start small, be consistent, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, you’ll be surprise with how much you’ll grow and improve.

3. Where’s the couch?

Myth: All you do is talk in a room.

Truth: Couches are so a thing of the past. Personally, I refuse having a couch in my office when I see athletes there. It’s so flexible and dynamic. Yes, sessions happen in the office, but like mentioned earlier, they can happen anywhere athletes feel comfortable. Online communities are also popping up as well with 24-7 access to tools.

This stuff is a relationship and partnership between consultant and client. It involves teaching, feedback, experimentation, and sometimes just talking life as well. A lot of sport psychology practitioners like to do their work in the athlete’s natural environment. That’s why you see us so often at tournaments, track meets, and games.

4. Close Your Eyes and Breathe

Myth: It’s boring, rigid, and repetitive and maybe a little, dare I say, cheesy.

Truth: Sport psych work centers on the individual athlete/team and involves sports and competing. Not boring. Each sport and athlete are different. Also not boring.

There’s also a lot more to it than learning how to deep breathe and visualize. Or be told ‘you’re awesome’. Not that those tools aren’t important, there’s just so much more to it and the athlete has a lot of say in the process.

 Sport psychology is typically very engaging. You’ll recap past and current performances, practices, and anything in between. You’ll be asked what triggers you have that lead to frustration or nerves or what helps you succeed. You’ll discuss things like what you want to think about, focus on, tell yourself, and feel in order to craft your own, replicable mindset to perform your best on and off the field. Consultant and athlete get creative in using videos, words, logging, etc. to dial it in.

So next time you see a sport psychology professional at a game or practice, don’t be afraid to check in or say ‘hello’. Don’t worry, we won’t and can’t shrink your head!

I'll drive this sucker home with one last point: just like any other aspect of training and recovery, you get out of your mental game what you put into it. Namaste. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

New Skills Clinic Announcement for Fall Triathlon Season:

Greetings, All!

Back by popular demand for the Fall Triathlon comes "Developing an Open-Water Mentality: Practical Tools for Open-Water Swimming Success", a clinic presented by myself and Pro Triathlete and Coach Liz Baugher.

Discussion will include tips and tricks for your best, most consistent swimming outside of the pool, how to gain a mental edge on the competition, and just how to get through this challenging discipline successfully.

Beginners through Ironman participants welcome!

Registration is available both on-site and online. Pre-registration is recommended.

Register online here and payments can be made via the paypal button in the sidebar.

Questions? contact

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Website!

After 6 successful months in my new office, I am pleased to announce that I have an official home on the web.

For information about services, how to schedule an appt., and about me, feel free to check out:

I plan on updating and adding things often, so check back often!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Guest Post: Balancing Your Fitness Goals

The following post is from Michelle Pino of New York. She is based at a spa called Skana and is a lifestyle and wellness enthusiast. May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month (no wonder I like May so much!) and May 12 starts National Women's Health Week. Effective goal setting is a common session and workshop topic of mine, and it is always helpful to hear another's input on the subject. This is truly a post for everyone today.

Michelle will cover some basic goal-setting principles for both athlete s and non athletes alike and discuss the use of a modified" Vision Board"-a widely used, fun, and effective way to visualize and plan a roadmap to success. 

The month of May is a great time to get motivated.  Most people are unaware that May is the host to National Physical Fitness & Sports Month, as well as National Women’s Health Week, which kicks off on Mother’s Day.  The warm weather is finally here to stay, so get outside and get moving!

Balance is an important part of being successful at any health-related endeavor, whether the goal is improving health or losing weight. However, how can this balance be created in the bigger picture? People already know that dieting isn't sustainable. Diets might produce short-term weight loss, but they only force the body into starvation mode in the long run, resulting in more fat gain. This means that the conventionally excessive diet and exercise plan just doesn't work well. It spurs some people to waste untold hours at the gym without getting the results they expect. Meanwhile, others never get started because the prospect of fitness seems too intimidating. In truth, exercise has to be optimized, and it shouldn't be excessive. Below is a look at how you can develop a balanced exercise plan.

Organizing Your Fitness Goals
Many people envision an overwhelming pile of impossible goals and checklists when they imagine balancing an exercise plan. Inspiration is what's needed to overcome this feeling, and an inspiration board is an ideal way to develop a plan and keep track of goals and achievements. Whether simple or detailed, an inspiration board can bring ideas, thoughts and dreams out into the open. Ultimately, this results in better-organized thoughts and a focus on the target.

How to Make an Inspiration Board
This process shouldn't be boring. First, look for words, items and pictures that make you want to improve your health. You can look online, in magazines and at recipes for a start. Carefully study the images you find, then figure out how they're connected. Recognize their similarities and relate them to the fitness goals you've brainstormed.

Choosing Your Focus
Now you're ready to make an anchor point for your journey. An example of this could be a picture of a friend that suffered from cancer and made you want to improve your health. This picture will become a motivator that helps keep you on track toward a healthier life when you're feeling less motivated. Arrange the main items and images on your board so that they surround your anchor point. To create a feeling of connection throughout the board, take away items that don't fit. Finally, it's time to inspect your board for anything that doesn't match your goals, whether they're general or specific.

Put this board in a spot where you'll see it every day. This way, your creation will always remind you of why you're getting fit, driving you and giving you a sense of responsibility in the process. As you work toward your goals, you can continue to put new items, pictures and words on your inspiration board. For example, you can post your weight loss and measurements there. However, there are no limits to what you can use there, so just make sure you always enjoy using this board.

Photo Credits:

Smoothie recipe from Bar10der
Purple athletic tank from athleta: Athleta
New York golf course from turning stone resort: Atunyote
Running on road from Flickr: Running 
Pink golf ball from Flickr: Golf ball

Michelle can be reached at

Friday, May 3, 2013

Life Lessons Wrapped in Sport

Today I was inspired to revise and re-post perhaps one of the more cathartic (at least in my little bubble of a world) blogs I've ever written. Why rehash something I've already done, you ask? To be honest, I was partially inspired by a good friend of mine at breakfast today, Richard T., that some ideas are worth repeating. Maybe I just need to revisit for myself as I get ready to start some new projects and re-visit some I put on the shelf are important to me.

In this ongoing process that is life, below are some reflections that I posted toward the end of 2012. I'm encouraged that I feel the same way today reading them as I did writing them then.. Take them as you will and enjoy:

Never, ever count yourself out. Stay in the game regardless of how bad things seem at the time. Difficult times are here to make us stronger, not break us down should we choose to see it that way. We are stronger than we think we are.

Try something new. Do something for the first time. Surprise yourself. 

Be solution focused vs. focusing on the problem. 

When in doubt, reach out.

Related, get uncomfortable from time to time. Become familiarly comfortable with getting out of your comfort zone. Every seasoned veteran in sport or other profession once didn't know what the heck they were doing. 

Be your own cheerleader. Accept yourself for who you are and work to be the best at being who you can be. Sure, you'll have bad days here and there, but in the grand scheme it doesn't matter. 

If you believe in yourself long enough, it becomes second nature. When you don't feel confident, remind yourself what got you to where you are in the first place. 

An emphasis on quality is impeccable. An emphasis on quantity is often overrated. Focus on what you're doing in the immediate. Things get done better and faster that way.

Deliberately stolen from Dr. Rob Bell: "Find small ways to improve on what you're already doing, but make it better".

When in doubt, reach out (yes I said that twice). Sure, some people in this world may just plain suck, but good people exist. Surround yourself with supportive people and those who make you feel good. 

This one I've been working hard on...An athlete is who I am-being an athlete it has garnered much so far, but it doesnot define me as a person. The whole is different than the sum of its parts. 

So if you're still reading by now, I'll leave you with that little slice of gibberish disguised as insight-or the other way around.  Remember life is a process. What maxims do you live by? 

Stay the course.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ironman Texas Training Camp

Special thanks goes out to the coaches at Outrival Racing in The Woodlands, TX for having me out for a clinic on the mental aspects of preparing for and completing the 140.6 distance. An attentive and fit audience from all over the state of Texas participated and asked great questions during their "break" in between a long training run and open-water swim session.

Some highlighted topics of the day:

1. Self-Talk-including some of my own "semi-pearls of wisdom"! 
2. Race Management: and how to race in the moment within your plan.
3. Realistic positivism-focus on what's going well, or at times just moving.
4.Confidence in training and on race day.

 It was a fun hour adjacent to 5/18's race day start at Northshore Park. Photos are courtesy of Corey Oliver. *
Talking mental toughness, more than likely...

"Classwork" for the campers!

Wishing everyone a positive, safe event. Remember to believe in yourself and focus on the task at hand!

Friday, April 5, 2013

An Open Letter to Coaches

In the wake of the recent incidents at Rutgers and any other preceding case before it that has now been re-exposed in the media, I  would like to offer a few points of reflection for any coach out there.It doesn't matter if you work in the grassy fields of the local YMCA on a Tuesday night to the ivory towers of D-I Universities. I write this not intending to point any fingers or offend but to keep the conversation going on how to get the best out of yourself as a coach and subsequently get the best out of your athletes. As I tell clients and clinic attendees all the time: take what you want and use it as best you can.

Dear Coach,

You have one of the greatest jobs in the world and one of the hardest at the same time. In between long hours, late nights, unappreciative fans and parents-you sometimes wonder why you chose to do what you do. But the thought typically fades away quickly when you see the pure joy of accomplishment on your athletes' faces and see the hours and hours of work pay off. It's a grind, but those little moments are worth it.

Sadly, though, those moments seem to be forgotten sometimes and the satisfaction is replaced by frustration. You are in charge of numerous personalities and abilities, after all. Sometimes it seems like you're talking to a brick regarding some of them. Improvement at times can't come fast enough; especially when your job is on the line depending on the outcomes of the season. Sometimes it's magical, sometimes you're at a loss. What can you do?? How do you best approach dealing with administrators, opponents, staff members, and the athlete's underneath you? There is not one best answer, but here are some things I suggest:

First, always be honest with yourself and look within. What do you value as a coach, even more, as a human being? Are you being true to your value system? You don't have to be perfect, but how close are you to being the leader you want to be? When it gets difficult and you're scratching your head looking for answers-why did you get into coaching in the first place?

Trust yourself and those around you. If you don't have a common trust with your staff and supports, you're in for a difficult ride. Surround yourself with people who make you better at what you do. Regardless of experience and credentials-there's always something you can learn from others. The best teams and programs crank out consistent results because the synergy and trust in the organizational structure.

Winning. We all want to win, but sometimes it is taken out of context and put on a greater stage than it needs to be. Find a way to win, but with an element of grace and humility. What does a winner look like? Sound like? Act like? Convey this to your athletes regularly. Perspective is everything.

Model the behavior of confidence and success. Athletes look to you for an example and as a leader. A coaching relationship as a unique and special one. Whether you like it or not, they look to you for guidance.   They learn how to win with the guidance of a good coach. Don't fear mistakes, however, because you will make them. Just like practicing a new skill-these mistakes are merely doors opened for learning experiences.

When things get difficult, go awry, or get out of control-be mindful of your emotions. Many a coach has gotten caught up in the "heat of the moment" and has faced consequences. This goes back to looking within and examining yourself-what makes you angry? What is an appropriate way to handle your anger in a way that benefits the team. Emotion is part of sport-it is up to us to manage appropriately. If you mess up, blow it, or fall off the wagon-simply get back on-admit mistakes and strive to find new ways to change responses.

If you're struggling with something or feel out of control-reach out before things actually do get out of control.  Again, know your "buttons" and how to handle them.

Take care of yourselves. Don't take your sport or yourself too seriously. Time is precious, but leave some for yourself and your significant others. As Randy Pausch once said-"put your oxygen mask on first".

Again, if you're reading this, you obviously care about your coaching. Hope this finds you on the path to success. Know that success is a process. Know yourself, trust yourself, trust the process.

Adrienne Langelier, MA