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Olympic & professional athletes natural ability

I am now working with a lot of Olympic and professional athletes and I am very passionate about wanting to help support their performance endeavors. Although I am enamored by athletes of all abilities and their ability to work through just about any anything to meet challenges, some (not all) Olympic and professional athletes are interesting for a different reason.

1st time athletes

It sort of makes sense that people who are new to athletics would
struggle with confidence, motivation, self esteem, self doubt, etc. This is a group of people who are confronted with things they probably never knew existed for them: fears, doubts, anxieties, etc. and when you add the newness of being an athlete in a new sport on top of that…wow the learning curve can be high.

I love working with this population because for many of the 35-65er’s being an athlete for the first time is about growth and opportunity. Many of these athletes are women in their stage of midlife but instead of buying fast cars and having affairs these women are searching for their identity through sport and with that comes a lot of mental exploration and change.

Olympic and professional athletes

This group deals with the same issues but at a different level and for different reasons. They still deal with issues around confidence and self esteem and they still have fears, anxieties and doubts but they’ve been able to work around and move through these issues in a different way.

In my experiences, it seems that for many Olympic and professional athletes their natural ability in their sport has helped carry them through to be very successful; at least to a certain point.

Besides the natural ability to play their sport, for most of these athletes it seems that one of the other important factors in their success has been family support.

What is that certain point

In my experience with many Olympic and professional athletes although they still have an ingrained natural ability and continued family support, in their early 30’s things begin to change mentally.

Where these athletes have had a lot of family support to support their natural abilities, this begins to change in their mid to late 20’s. They start to individuate from their families and lose some of their support at least the way they’ve known it. In the process of individuation they start looking for support in other places: teammates, coaches and other professionals and many times are let down by the lack of support (information, feedback, training, etc.). This brings with it new mental challenges which impacts their performance and how they see the world.

For these athletes their natural ability has brought them a long way but in order to continue to compete at the level they want to compete, it becomes important for them to deal with the individuation process and all of the mental challenges that can come with it: confidence, self esteem, doubts, fears, anxiety, motivations, etc. that impacts their performance and their lives. For many of these athletes this is new information and challenging to deal with.

This is not to say that Olympic and professional athletes don’t have some level of motivation, confidence and self esteem because in my experience with them they do, but they aren’t always at the level they now need to perform.

I love working with Olympic and professional athletes in helping them to move past the sometimes new mental challenges that are getting in the way of them feeling successful. For some of them it is not only about winning the game, winning the race, getting the medal or obtaining a PR but about them ‘feeling successful’ in the process.

It is in these moments, where I get to support so many great people at many different levels, that I am thankful to be able to do what I do! Thanks to all the athletes who have reached out for my support!

Happy Saturday and happy holiday!

Dr. Michelle

Photo credit: hercampus.com & iphoneipodtouchwallpapers.blogspot.com