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The Team's Name is Moonstar

November 8th, 2015 6:02pm

class="MsoNormal"> I had been looking for a way to spend my volunteer time - not sure whether to mentor undergraduate psychology majors, be a big brother, teach English to kids, cook at the homeless shelter or walk dogs at the Humane Society. Then out of the blue my good friend Heather came to the rescue. She extended the offer that I help coach a 3rd grade girl’s basketball team. Heather (a former college basketball player) and her husband Jimm (a former elementary physical education teacher) have coached for several years now. At first I hesitated thinking back on my coaching career that included the following – while in high school coaching pee wee ice hockey (11 & 12 year olds), while in graduate school coaching high school tennis, and then later being the assistant coach of Penn State’s Men’s Ice Hockey Team. No basketball on my coaching resume. In fact, my attempts at playing basketball where far from successful. The highlight of my basketball care ...

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Preventing Injury Part II

November 15th, 2014 1:11pm

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Years ago I worked for the U.S. Olympic Committee and served as the team psychologist for U.S. Speed Skating. It is a sport known for an incredibly rigorous off ice training program. These athletes trained twice a day as hard as any other athletes I have worked with. What they did for dry land would make your head spin. Four hours out in 90-degree weather doing a series of exercises involving running, jumping and moving in all directions in the low skating position. Some even completed these workouts with a 30-pound weight vest on. I am telling you; it is like something you have never seen. If you just think of the 10k event in that low position. A position where there is interference with oxygenation to the muscles. Lactate builds up, pain sets in and the skater must stay low to avoid a disruption in mechanics that will lead to deceleration. You get the idea.

Shortly after I started working with them, ...

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Training for the Mental Side: Injury Prevention I

October 11th, 2014 12:38pm

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We have all been injured at one point or another. And it is hard. I see athletes all of the time post surgery who are struggling with what I call the “emotional injury.” Just some of the ways injury can occur includes falling the wrong way, being hit, training too hard and not resting enough. Not resting enough and training too hard is what I will focus on in this segment.

The “no pain, no gain” philosophy is still alive and well. Even though there is loads of research to support “less is more,” coaches and athletes frequently push too hard, to often and for too long. In other words, the intensity, frequency and duration of training is not consistent with what we know based upon the research in exercise physiology. On one hand, this is understandable because there is a gap between the research, and what is done on the practice field. If a strength and conditioning ex ...

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Training for the Mental Side: Be the 12th Man on the Field

September 25th, 2014 3:45pm

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As I write this piece, my attention is divided because I am watching the Broncos and Seahawks game. A rematch of Super bowl XLVIII. Although I find it quite challenging to sit inside on a day like today, I could not miss this match up. But I will get my fix of the blue skies and sunshine we have here in Colorado by taking a long walk during half time. So what do I have to say when the game is not close to being over? It is close to the end of the 1st quarter with the score tied 3-3. However, at this point in time I can write about the 12th man on the field.

This week on sports talk radio the hosts were making a big deal about the fans at CenturyLink Stadium. The Seahawks fans and how they would be the 12th man on the field. How they are so loud and would interfere with Peyton Manning calling the plays. That maybe true, but I think there could be a way around that issue. With all that these coaches and ...

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Training for the Mental Side: One Way to Boost Confidence

September 9th, 2014 4:17pm

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There are many characteristics of someone who is highly competitive. Some of these characteristics include perfectionism, being self-critical, compulsive, obsessive, high expectations, unrealistic standards, always looking at what you didn’t do versus what you did do, never being satisfied and only having fun when winning. These are the major ones. The one I want to focus on as something that will undermine your confidence is always looking at what you didn’t do versus what you did do. Sometimes we are unaware of the fact we even do this. But the negative impact this tendency has on confidence is profound.

Just think about it. You have had a great day at practice. The coach tells you so and you even get positive feedback from teammates for being awesome. But you hang onto the three turnovers you made. Yes, a few mistakes in the entire practice and that is what you focus on. Giving the mistak ...

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August 20th, 2014 6:10pm - Posted By: Doug Jowdy, Ph.D.

Training for the Mental Side: Hunger in the Classroom

In the last post I wrote about the “art of hunger” on the field. The story of the captain of our ice hockey team in college described how he literally would starve himself prior to games. This is the way Charlie got hungry to rise to the challenge of competition. And to compete in a way where he would “leave it on the ice.” After all, is this not what both you and your coaches want - for you to leave it on the field. In other words, play to win versus playing not to lose. I know this is another topic or subject for a book, but I am going to switch gears because I don’t want to get too far afield from the topic at hand. And the topic at hand has to do with having hunger in the classroom.

 My writing about the classroom is based upon my belief that there is no better place to learn about life than through sport. The reasons for this belief ru ...

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Dying & Heaven

September 23rd, 2013 12:58pm

A Division I men's soccer coach requested I work with his team several years ago.  The first time we met I asked the coach how I could help.  He replied, "My players all want to go to heaven but they don't want to die first." This captured the situation I would face.  The coach was from another country, played goal keeper for the national team and served in the army - an intense person in a good way. He was determined to turn this team around who had a history of being undisciplined. So we talked and I learned more about his desire to increase the motivation of his athletes.

I knew a key piece would involve engaging the leaders to reinforce the fact that their teammates had to "die before going to heaven."  I met with the leaders of the team to see what their opinion was about the situation. This was a difficult task because some of these upper classmen were athletes the coach was referring to. However, they did see the need ...

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The Pilgrim

July 31st, 2013 11:02am

As a graduate student at Penn State, I had a professor whose name was Michael Mahoney, Ph.D.  Mike taught a seminar in clinical interventions.  He was one of the first psychologists in the country to begin working with athletes.  With the gymnastics coaches at Penn State, Judy & Marshal Avener, they conducted a study that looked at the type of imagery elite gymnasts used compared to those who were not as talented.  This was a ground breaking study that led to further investigation of what is called internal and external imagery.  Mike also published two audio tapes in the early 1980s.  One described relaxation exercises for athletes to use and the other included a series of exercises to improve concentration.  

In brief, Mke was incredibly versitle and made contributions in many areas of psychology.  His book, Human Change Processes, is one of my favorites. &n ...

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Reactions to an article about dreams that appeared in Psychology Today.

July 17th, 2013 10:34am

About a year ago a dear friend, who dreams of becoming a Bikiram Yoga instructor, just called me to see what I thought of the article, “How to Ditch a Dream” that appeared in the June 2012 issue of Psychology Today by Augusten Burroughs.  Among other books, Burroughs is the author of the books Running with Scissors (1001) and Dry (2003).  I encourage you to learn about his background because it appears he may have the “resume” on the subject of achieving dreams.  Now back to my thoughts.

The article made my friend question her dream.  After I read the article, the first thing I said to her was, “The article was dangerous.  Believe it like you would believe your own thoughts.”  There is a saying in Alcoholics Anonymous – “you don’t have to do it alone” (Ironically, Burroughs is a recovering alcoholic – the subject of the book Dry.)  Although subtl ...

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