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Routine Helps an Athlete Stay Active and Focused on Useful Behaviors


by Sean McCann, PhD
US Olympic Committee
Performance Services
Sport Psychologist

One of the worst things an athlete can do in a high pressure environment is to stop and think about it. At the Olympics, when I see an athlete starting to freeze up, glaze over and think too much (usually about the dreaded, “what if’s”), I will try to get them talking, moving and laughing. Much better than this emergency interaction by a sport psychologist, however, is a routine that keeps an athlete moving, on a schedule, and focused on the things that help.

An argument can be made that a coach will end up using a great deal more energy if they don’t help athletes develop great routines. An initial investment of energy in developing good habits will create a great return down the road. I see this all the time in sports, and I’ll never forget what a great coach once said to me. “Why are all these coaches screaming form the sideline? If they had done their job in practice they wouldn’t have to say anything during a game.” If a coach develops great routines, and the athletes develop great habits, then the habits make them great players.

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