Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Head Case

It’s been no secret on this blog just how much I believe that this sport, and probably many things in life, is more mental than anything else. And the quicker you realize that and work towards improving the mental aspect on a continuous basis, the better off you’ll be. It’s a constant battle; at least for me, and something I have to work on all the time. I certainly haven’t mastered it, that’s for sure. I can be improving and in a great place and then something will happen that shakes the fragile foundation of it all and I find myself back in a place that isn’t conducive to success. It’s the one thing that I try and get through to younger athletes all the time. The older I get, the more I work on myself and the more in tune I become with knowing where I need to be.

There is a lot you can do on your own to improve what goes on in between that space between your ears and that’s a great start. I’ve also read a ton of books over the last five years that I have found to be extremely helpful. But the services at my disposal this year are far above anything I’ve ever had. The Olympic Training Center employs full time sports psychologists to work with athletes on a continuous basis. That means that throughout the year I meet with a head doctor, usually on a weekly basis, to discuss why I’m such a head case and find ways to improve.

I have always been under the impression that I was not the right type of candidate for this type of doctor. I find all that psycho-babble to be a bit corny, I don’t do visualization all that well, and I can have a fairly difficult time opening up one on one with people. I’ll be asked a question and instead of just answering it honestly right away, I’ll think to myself what I want to say, then perhaps what I should say, how that sounds and what it may imply about me…and then I’ll get tongue-tied and say a whole lot of nothing. Slowly but surely I am learning though. Thankfully, the sports psychologist I work with is not the hum-ditty-hum type and it is a much more down to earth, logical assessment of my issues and me. I don’t sit back, close my eyes and listen to the waves while breathing through my nose, while counting backwards from 100. Oh yea, I’ve paid $100 bucks an hour to do just that! Needless to say those sessions didn’t last too long.

I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day and it will take me a long time to find the confidence on par with a Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. But what I do know is that I’m working on being a better Brianna than I was last year, and that is one heck of a start.


Dana said...

That's really AWESOME Brianna! I think it's really brave of anyone to see any person with psych in their title...b/c there's such a stigma around it. I've never had a psychologist or psychiatrist myself but have thought seriously about getting one for what I call my "fear patterns". It's amazing how we can create total fabrications in our heads and actually manifest them into existence b/c of our thinking. Our actions are controled by what we think which then makes the outcome into whatever you thought it was going to be. Often times we create bad/fear scenarios b/c we want to try to prepare ourselves for any let downs just to discover that even though you prepared, it still hurts like hell and you're even more depressed. I think it's awesome that you're using the resources you have available to help you change your thought patterns into good, positive, and rewarding thoughts. I'm sure you'll inspire others to do the same which means even more happy, positive people!!=)

t.v. said...

I guess in your career branch, you definitely need someone like that to keep you focus and sorted. Which is a good thing. Despite the fact that you sometimes doubt your ability to win, you are a very positive person. And that goes a long way.

Dana's right concerning the sigma thing.
My best friend is a psychologist and she's doing the doctorate thing now, and as part of the curriculum she needs to see a shrink on the regular. It's amazing the things she's found out about herself as a person.

The world might be a better place if a visit to the shrink's office was mandatory. lol

the Gamelord said...

It's all about self-belief and the elimination of self-doubt. Brianna, I realize it is easier said than done, but if you believe you are a 24+ feet long jumper the odds are you'll be much more likely to achieve those big jumps. Hopefully, the sports pyschologist will help you achieve a more positive thought process, because you obviously underestimate your greatness. :-)

brit_brat said...

you could say that being a 'better brianna' is basically the same as being brittany!

tr400 said...

I know you said you have read lots of books, but if you not read the Power of Now please do so.


bianca said...

Brit, you are retarded! Hahahahaha, you make me laugh.

Bri, I'm a good listener and cheerleader, so if you a shoulder to lean upon, holla' at your girl.

Daniel "Mr. Confidence" said...

Have you ever wondered, as I have, which really comes first? Is it that those who become “Champions” at something very competitive work at the “head games” better to achieve the success, or is it really the other way around, that the confidence is born of and from the successes? In any sport that has some level of popularity (and marketability) talent is recognized early, after which a period of nurturing happens, where they are coached, trained and helped in many ways others are not.
Usain Bolt is a current example. He absolutely did not ‘come out of nowhere’. He was a junior champion, recognized as a great talent early, and has undergone a long period of coddling and patient training. He had reasons very early to “know” he was going to be “great”. I’m often reminded of Aryton Senna’s rather arrogant attitude about this, stating, after becoming World F1 Champion, how he always knew he would be a champion. Well, it’s kinda easy to say that after the fact. That’s why I take it with a grain (or 10) of salt, when you hear winners, after winning, talk all about their “confidence” in their abilities to win.
As a side “benefit” from the “I am a Champion” mentality, is watching their reaction to losing. Motorsports exemplifies this best, when guys lose, and it’s everybody and everything else’s fault – “The tires were no good”, “We’re down on power”, “So-and-So blocked me” and on and on. Very rarely do you hear “I got beat, wasn’t fast enough/good enough today”. Further, in Athletics’ how much does the ‘I will win’ attitude enable a person to justify to themselves the use of performance-enhancing drugs, because, as we just know, winning is absolutely everything.
I would wonder about what could be extracted from almost any person, in any field, as far as personal confidence and “winning attitude”, if they received success early and then where personally mentored for years to cultivate that. Ms. Glenn, most of us never receive any such thing in life.
Just my comments.

Daniel (Bad Man) said...

Ms. Glenn,
Can I take that last set of words back, lol. In reflection, it all sounded a bit too negative, which is not what I intended. Rather, I was thinking of all the dichotomies inherent in the concept of a “winning” attitude.