Performance Psychology

Move beyond burnout

The degree of commitment required of elite performers makes them particularly vulnerable to burnout. I help my clients calibrate their motivations, clarify their objectives and negotiate life priorities so that they can perform consistently and feel fulfilled.

Overcome performance anxiety

Self-imposed pressure, loss and transitions to new divisions, routines or environments can trigger a lack of confidence that is both startling and overwhelming. I help clients overcome performance anxiety through an exploration and resolution of the underlying cause.

Rebound from injury or a hiatus

Making a comeback isn’t easy. Often the temptation is to go full power right away, but this approach is more likely to result in setbacks than leaps forward. Move too fast and you are ripe for a re-injury or a battering to your self-confidence. Ignore your fear and it will subconsciously sabotage your performance.

I’ll work closely with you to finely tune your practice and mindset for a smooth and confident comeback.

Find your zone

Boredom and stress are insidious forces that can sap your energy and ability to focus. All elite performers struggle with powerful distractions at various points in their career: fatigue, pain, fear, boredom, family conflict, etc.

I work with my clients to develop strategies and skills to disarm the distractions that affect their performance.

Disarm negative thoughts

The body listens to the mind. Your thoughts have immense power: both positive and negative. I’ll help you identify and disarm negative thoughts that are creating negative results. Together we will develop positive imagery that is tailored to your personality, goals and situation so that you can perform at your best.

Build your Mental Toolkit

I work with each of my clients to develop a personalized mental toolkit which typically includes pre-performance routines, mental imagery visualizations, simulations, cue words and other techniques to focus the mind and condition peak performance.

Helping a Pro Golfer Overcome a Losing Streak

Photo of golf legend Babe Didrickson-Zaharias

*I’ve changed details about my client’s name, including her name, to protect her privacy. The photo is of Babe Didrickson-Zaharias, arguably the best female athlete of all time.

Problem

“Babe” had been a top ranked college golfer, but had fallen into a losing streak since making the transition to pro. In our first session together, we uncovered that she was mourning the loss of her college team which she believed had been the source of her success. She was motivated by the camaraderie, her coach’s support and fans. Without the team environment, her confidence and motivation were faltering.

Solution

Our first step was to examine the grief that was present. Simply acknowledging its presence disarmed the feeling. In our sessions together we were able to separate the feelings of sadness from self-doubt. We worked on developing a practice of “leaving it all on the course” in which she dialed down pressure to win by focusing on giving each stroke 100%. We also identified healthier, more sustainable motivations (e.g. the way that playing made her feel strong).

We meet weekly over Skype to evaluate progress and make adjustments, with texting before matches.

Result

In four months of mental coaching, “Babe’s” rankings went from the high 600’s to the mid 200’s. Our work together continues: both fine-tuning and addressing new challenges.

Mental Toolkit

We developed a personalized mental toolkit for “Babe” which includes:

  • a mental imagery visualization practiced for 10 minutes the night before and morning of games to strengthen self-confidence
  • a pre-performance routine to focus the mind and quell anxiety at the start of a match
  • a “between stroke” routine to maintain focus and sense of calm
  • a simulation training program in which anxiety producing conditions are practiced
  • affirmations to disarm persistent self-doubts and negative projections

Helping a Professional Musician Regain Confidence

Photo of Billie Holiday singing

*I’ve changed my details about my client, including her name, to protect her privacy. The photo is of jazz legend Billie Holiday from 1947.

Problem

“Billie” had been a professional singer for years, but began choking in auditions and was losing confidence in her ability. In our first session together, we discovered that she had a very strong drive, but it was motivated by things such as recognition that are not intrinsic to the experience of singing. She had put a great deal of pressure on herself to rehearse around the clock and was burning out.

Solution

Our first step was to bring awareness to what was showing up when she stood up to sing. In our sessions together we worked on reducing distracting mental chatter by redirecting attention from thoughts to feelings. We identified motivations that were intrinsic and therefore more sustainable. She tapped into the joy of singing that led her to childhood dream of becoming a great singer.

We meet weekly in my office to evaluate progress and make adjustments, with email check-ins in between sessions.

Result

After three months, “Billie” participated in an audition and felt confident rather than anxious. She performed well and made it through to the final round.

Mental Toolkit

We developed a personalized mental toolkit for “Billie” that includes:

  • a pre-performance routine to focus the mind and quell anxiety at the start of an audition
  • a mental imagery visualization practiced 10 minutes the morning of an audition to strengthen self-confidence
  • affirmations to disarm persistent self-doubt and negative projections
  • a tapered training routine the week before an event for a more relaxed and vital performance
  • cue words to condition positive responses
  • a life balance plan which incorporates rest and fun to offset the hours of practice and avoid burnout

Helping a Professor Transition to a Leadership Role

Photo of Albert Einstein in 1921

*I’ve changed details about my client, including his name, to protect his privacy. The photo is of Albert Einstein in 1921, the year he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Problem

“Albert” came to me because he was moving up in the academic field and applying for leadership positions. He was concerned about maintaining work-life balance and struggled with confidence even though he had interviewed at several Ivy League universities. He was feeling stuck and overwhelmed by indecision.

Solution

We initially asked why this move, why now and did he have to make it. It quickly became obvious that this was the right move and it had to happen now. We worked on redefining his self-vision, ideals for success and objectives. We also strengthened his decision-making process, time management skills and focus.

Result

Over a course of a few months, “Albert” landed a new position with a prestigious University in which he is taking a leadership role. He has a plan in place to help him balance work with life.

Mental Toolkit

We developed a personalized mental toolkit for “Albert” that includes:

  • A plan to build confidence by identifying the positives and building on successes
  • Affirmations to disarm persistent self-doubts and negative projections
  • Mindfulness exercises to help build awareness and increase focus
  • A calendar/scheduling system that included structured time, unstructured time and daily tasks
  • A control gauge that helped him to determine if he was in control of what he was ruminating on