by Sean McCann, PhD
US Olympic Committee
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.