Friday, August 21, 2009

Usain Bolt Provides Motivation to Other Sprinters

“Just because you get beat doesn’t mean you stop trying, it just means you go home and work on your own résumé. When I go home this off-season, I’ve got to go home and work twice as hard, three times as hard and put a picture of Bolt above my bed.”

--Wallace Spearmon, US sprinter who came in third in the 100M to Usain Bolt in Berlin in a time of 9.85 seconds.

Excerpt from New York Times, August 20, 2009.

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Peak Performance Videos: Usain Bolt Smashes World Records in 100M and 200M

Watch and admire!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

U.S. Army Promotes Emotional Resiliency

"Resilience is a way of thinking -- you apply optimistic thinking to a problem. It is really a difference between, for instance, when you invite somebody for a date and they say no, resilient people think 'their loss -- I'll do better next time.' What they don't think is 'nobody will ever like me. I'm worthless.' That's really what it is. It teaches you to remember that problems are temporary, that they are local.

"Our intention is to have every platoon sergeant and every drill sergeant to have gone through this. It's really like part of what you do when you take somebody to the range, or when you are teaching somebody how to have confidence about going into the gas chamber [combat training]. It is also about teaching by example in an operational environment, how to deal with fear, and disappointment. It's tools, thinking tools, how not to fall into thinking traps or catastrophic thinking."

--Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, director of the U.S. Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.

Resiliency, or mental toughness, is part of the Army's larger "Comprehensive Soldier Fitness" program, that aims to ensure Soldiers are as mentally tough as they are physically tough. Cornum said soldiers will be taught resiliency in basic training by master resilience trainers, who themselves have gone through courses like the one taught in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania.

Additionally, she said, soldiers will develop mental toughness through self-guided learning, based on assessments they will take online during basic training and every two years afterward. Mental fitness, she said, is like physical fitness; life-long and ongoing.

"It is something you are going to start when you come into the Army; if you are already in, you start in the middle of your career. And it is a long-term process. It is not something that you can do once, any more than you can get physically fit by one trip to the gym. This is not an individual single event. It is a way of looking at your psychological health as important as your physical health," says Gen. Cornum.

The training, the first of its kind in the military, is meant to improve performance in combat and head off the mental health problems, including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide, that plague about one-fifth of troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

U.S. Military to Begin Training Soldiers in Mental Conditioning

In response to increasing incidents of post-traumatic stress syndrome, suicide, and depression in the military, it is planned that all 1.1 million U.S. troops will be trained in emotional resiliency and stress management.

The new training will be taught in weekly 90-minute classes led by sergeants who will be trained in mental techniques that focus on faulty cognitions. These faulty cognitions are thought to lead to emotional difficulties such as anxiety and frustration under stress.

The techniques are being incorporated with the consultation of Dr. Martin Seligman, a leading psychologist in the area of mental conditioning and stress management. The techniques are based on the work of Dr. Albert Ellis and Dr. Aaron Beck, who worked in clinical settings help people to understand and change their self-talk to improve their emotional functioning.

For the entire New York Times article from August 18, 2009 click on:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Progressive Relaxation Helps Michael Phelps to Gold

"When I step onto the blocks to race, I switch into a different gear. It doesn't matter what kind of training I have or what's going on in my life, I'm always going to rise to the occasion."

--Michael Phelps.

Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps' coach, says that structured relaxation has been a part of Phelps' prerace routine since he was 12 years old and is a key to his success. Bowman introduced Phelps to progressive relaxation and includes a recitation of cues.

Every night before Phelps went to sleep, his mother, Debbie, would sit with him in his dimly lit bedroom, read a script, and command him to relax different parts of his body. With considerable practice, Phleps could relax without his mother's cues. With more practice, he became adept at placing himself in the same meditative state in the ready room before a race.

Once he cleared his mind and loosened his limbs, Phelps would swim each race over and over in his mind. In addition to a perfect race, Phlep pictures himself overcoming every conceivable obstacle to achieve his goal time so that when he stands on the blocks he feels as if nothing can stand in the way of him and his quest.

"I do go through everything from a best-case scenario to the worst-case scenario just so I'm ready for anything that comes my way," Phelps says.

So, for example, when Phelps' goggles unexpectedly filled with water during the finals of the 200 butterfly at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, he did not panic. He counted his strokes so he knew where the walls were and was able to lower his world record and win the gold medal.

Excerpts from the New York Times (July 26, 2009).

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Tom Brady & the New England Patriots: Ready for a New Season?

"Playing these guys a few times in the playoffs, you look over and say 'Hey, we can go over and beat that team. What do they do that we don't do? We can win this game.' But then when you get here, you see his passion, you see the way he studies, you see how demanding he is of his players, the leadership. Right in front of you, it just jumps right out. You see why he's a proven winner."

--Fred Taylor, who signed with the New England Patriots after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, talking about how he is impressed with Tom Brady, the Patriots' veteran quarterback.

Brady is recovering from an injury to his left knee that he received in the opening game of the 2008 NFL season. Should Brady be back to his old self, the Patriots are one of the favorites to reach the Super Bowl, despite being the oldest team in the league (an average age of 27-plus).

Excerpt from the New York Times (July 31, 2009).

For more on the New England Patriots, click on New England Patriots: Peak Performance Case Study.

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