There are a lot of resources available to athletes that train at the Olympic Training Center. And because they come at no cost to us, it makes them that much more valuable. One of the greatest, and possibly most overlooked resource, is our very own sports psychologists that help us with the most important part of athletics. That space between your ears has to be given the same kind of attention as all your other training. It took me a long time to realize how important it truly was, but now that I know, I'm one of the biggest proponents.
I used to cringe at the idea of talking about "feelings" and having someone try and pull things out of me while I lay on a couch and reach for a box of tissues while a soothing waterfall babbles in the background. But that's not it at all. Well, at least the type I see. I've been able to be in such better control of what I do and have a better vision of what I'm trying to accomplish, far better than I ever would without this help. I still have a long way to go, but I see the progress I make when I work on training the mental side of my sport with a qualified professional.
The longer I've been seeing him, the more I continue to broaden his uses. Technically, he's a "sports psychologist" but I tend to use him for everything. And that makes sense. Everything that goes on in your life has an impact on how you train, how you prepare for competition, and what kind of emotional state you're in on a day to day basis. Just the ability to talk to someone who is legally bound to not repeat or gossip about anything you tell them is an asset. It's to the point now where I only have to say hello and he can tell that something is bothering me. Then it's only a matter of moments before I'm spilling my guts and that release always feels better, even if all I did was talk about it.
If you're an athlete and you don't talk to a sports psychologist, I would highly recommend it. If it can be worked into the budget I promise you that at times you will find it just as important as your coach, strength coach, massage therapist, and chiropractor... combined. Making one part of your team might just be the best thing you ever did for yourself.