Dr. Chris Carr of SVSP

The Kent Sterling Show
Wednesday, September 27th

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Back on the Kent sterling shows CBS sports 1430. We're joined by sports psychologist doctor Chris Carr he works with saint Vincent's sports performance he Indiana Pacers Butler. Are all over the place counseling student athletes in how to best prepare their minds. Thabeet. Productive performers. On the court on the field on the diamond on the rink so forth. Hat. What do you do as a sports psychologist. That's it you know it's a great question it's one of those things I guess a lot what is the sport psychologist do well. My background and training as a council sports psychologist. By training that's my doctoral degree. But I I didn't think that being a college football player and a coach was sufficient to cover of the sports site peace so I studied. Sport XSI culture is part of my doctoral work at Ball State. So I learned about the tools and techniques related to issues of confidence composure. Concentration. Which are those kinds of things we call mental skills. But as a counseling psychologist it's a continuum I work with a athletes who were very elite. Functioning wonderfully in their lives and their relationships and their schooling. But in their athletics. Participation. Competition. They struggle at times with issues related and I I use of three season just makes sense confidence issues composure issues or concentration issues. And and then along that continuum you have an athlete who's in the lead athlete the suffers a season ending injury. And one of the psychological. Kind of antecedents of that what happens when an athlete is injured. Because when they become injured their whole identity changes. And so one of the things we do is provide support and guidance. Quite a bit in my practice particularly with the collegiate athlete says. Is doing when those kids coming in who are freshmen. Who were best athletes in their club and high school teams. And then they got recruited and praised. And now they end up at a Purdue or Butler and being the best and it's a challenge because they have openly taught how to manage. That setback in adversity which is a normal part of athletic transition and we find that Frances and any level and you know I've been so blessed to be in the environments and two Olympic Games. Summer or winter games I've been to multiple world championships and CAA final four. NBA Eastern Conference to watch that environment but who stays committed to their mental preparation approach that's the fun park. Could you get into the has said hey you're an athlete who has had to answer maybe it did you know stuff about Ted innately is you're an athlete a word to view. Seal on a day kind of a lack of it and me and you wanted to fill that hole. You know I think back in my errand that was new you know while the earth was still cooling I think in those days late. Football Wabash College. But I think we just kind of intuitively did you do really have lectures you kind of learned about visualization and are you read about someone doing it. To be really honest. When I look all of us if there was going to be a high school football coach or when to Ball State was graduate assistant coach. And when I had to choose my master's degree chose counseling psychologist ought to be high school guidance counselor. But I started getting very intrigued while I was cutting film and sticking it on the law and doing go for chores address graduate assistant coach. And not doing much on the field coaching frankly. I got really intrigued with this whole aspect of really healthy functional people who provide support for them when they struggle. And as some of your local. Listeners will attest I injured my knee in my last college football game which was a Mona I'm bill game in 1981 out. And that's how I walked off the field and never came back and I think for me you know two days letter during a full leg cast. That wasn't the hard part it was all the identity never getting that sense of completion I think I got intrigued with that. So after working for years with kids in. That Dixon's career and addictions treatment. I have friends were coaches you know I was still connect to that community and I started finding out that most people calling themselves sports psychologists were either not psychologist. Or they were a psychologist or red Sports Illustrated and I thought. What a great idea to go into this field and be able to provide that support for athletes and I've been very blessed to be doing that though about twenty years. You know it it premiers this so physically. People are they like eat you can through training. You can and improve performance within a march you you can't turn an average and a lead into an elite athlete. Is the same truce psychologically. That you've got kind of windows improvement or or can you really help. Guys yeah absolutely and it into simplify when things go do wanna come and talk with a team whether it's a high school team a club team currently running team. I took a class three questions a what percent of your sport is mental. And defining mental with confidence issues focus issues composure like managing the butterflies. And you know typically Google C 87 the six the 90% mental. That I asked the second question of all the mistakes you make our other errors you make what percent are mental mistakes yeah. When I worked for the Kansas City Royals six years I think the pitching staff Italy's every hand would reach up and say a 100%. I know how to throw a 97 mile an hour fastball or an 89 mile an hour slider I know how to throw that if I didn't throw it at the moment I needed at. And I left flat that's what the guy paid to hit the ball does with a flat slider they hit it out park. So if you ask they say 8090% of my mistakes are men on that I say if 80% of your sport is mental and ninety pursue any mistakes from until then how much of your training and practice he's been doing mental training. And I think that's where sports psychology and performance psychology and mental training adds. To athletes development and you're exactly right it's not going to take an average athlete and make them a superstar. But it will take that'll lead athlete. In my very first Olympic medalist I ever worked with the you know that during my career Tommy Moe won the 1994 Olympic. Downhill. 541 hundreds of suck. If you were half a second behind him which could have been just coming a little light into a gate. And scrubbing a little speed if you were just that little behind him you were in fifteenth twentieth place so it's it's one of those things where we're talking about appoint a second. Half second. An inch. And so when you think about that how much is mental. For this generation now the ideas that hardware and software. We spent a lot of time in athletics building the hardware. But we don't do a lot with the software that runs at all and I think that's were sports psychology is actually it's a field is still growing. I think we have a lot of people pretending to be software engineers. And as I tell coaches all the time you're not ruling mode of traders what you are motivated individuals that create an environment. What other motivated individuals can be successful and so. It's really that's the uniqueness of this profession if I go to me with a team of twenty. I expect two to three of those athletes to really follow through incumbents say how can I get better with this part of my performance. Why in the world would that be the case why Whitney let me so arm I'm watching guys. In in a watch collegiate athletes want true professional athletes and there's a professional athlete in town who's had a contract here. And it looks like his performance has dipped. In Seoul because I'm an amateur sports psychologist I think OK this dude is afraid of failure. Curry's afraid success college is a fear of success. How much does that drive kind of a a lack of performance. You know it's a great question because there are lots of factors related to motivation. Managing emotions. Managing our thoughts that are connected to or behaviors and as a whole theoretical perspective in the field of sports psychology. That seems to be summarized in 62. Blogs. And as a psychologist who spent seven years in graduate school and I remember my first spring training with the royals minor league manager. Great guy came up to me and said earlier in the sports psychologist I know what to do. And I said. Yeah I've I've played Little League Baseball I know what you do there is a stigma about psychology. In this is why. And I see the change fortunately I've been doing a long enough I've seen a change in the past five years or so where athletes are saying. Wait why should their way to something's wrong. Two for try to fix a part of me that I know I can be better yes and I think come. What's unique about our discipline is that some people have to kind of fail and struggle. I think a lot of with social media now everyone's got an answer. Which adds to the distraction. And oftentimes the external factors that impact an athlete when relief. We're trying to get him to be inflow we're trying to get an individual Libyan optimal performance Rome where they're not thinking. Where they're just flowing and engaging. Knowing exactly what the tepid to focus on and most important to enjoy that experience and so the research we've done in flow. Correct you read research about positive psychology happiness optimism. All of those positive psychological variants which have a good academic base. Are kind of loosely applied in the sports room and I think our field needs to be better. Turn Chris Carr sports psychologist. For saint Vincent's sports performance and pacers. Boller Purdue etc. Is there a common trait among the cycle among those who succeeded really high level. No question to me it's intense analyses and internal motivation. I remember very vividly. Collegiate football program I went into today first kind of introductory session. This is during my five years at Ohio State very first team meeting. And the very first clear to come up to me afterwards without hesitation grab every hand out. Ask what can he do to be better. This is in front of his teammates a lot of people I'm sure rolling their eyes there's no precedent of this so you gotta be something wrong with you you negotiate. Psychologists if you're in trouble right although stigma attached. This individual came up and instead I wanna get started and I think that intention LT and that internal motivation. He knew we see some of those catch phrases like characters what you do when no one is looking. I think those ring true in terms of I'm I'm always impressed with the athlete who comes and and I meet with a my first time whether there college athlete or. High school left the door Olympic level athlete or professional athlete and he says Tennessee I think this is what I have to be better what do we need to do. Will we go deep as part of doing our psychological work together absolutely will talk about things at an athlete cancer over the others. Because it makes some very vulnerable makes some. Emotional you know. But the you have to create that safe place and as a psychologist that's what were trained to do to give the messy environment so they can explore those things. And then once they start working through it. Gain more internal control drive. Sports parenting is kind of a big deal and what kind of support system should parents create. For now athlete regardless. Of the class of athlete. You know it's this is a that the use sport culture has released changed. I'm sure a great deal of for the better on the turn of U sport athlete who. I decided at a young age to be single sport athlete and my daughter Rachel was blessed to just have a good work ethic and had the opportunity compete well in her her junior Olympic gymnastics and go compete in college for four years. But the number one thing my wife and I really emphasized with always strive to be your past. You know and have fun in the journey enjoy it because I will tell you as a psychologist. If I'm dealing with the athlete who has lost their enjoyment and of of their sport I don't care how talented they are they're not gonna achieve their maximum level. And I think come. I think the one thing I've said the parent groups before and on the I'm not uncomfortable saying this. You cannot view the dollars and expense you paying yours on her daughter's you sport as an investment. It's not it's really an activity that your paying for but I think oftentimes. Parents believe it's an investment the sport culture reinforces that. I'm educated scholar he and it's. And I think there's so much of that we don't control and you know I work in that collegiate environment our work with college coaches on the day in tail pieces. A worker at the MLB teams and of NFL teams I was buddy Ryan's teams or college Specter 94. I understand that culture. And being now my tenth year in the NBA it some. Knowing that culture there's no guarantee I think you sports needs to be about engagement. I'm helping kids develop competency in their abilities and not compared to the other athlete who at age separate majors by their genetics being a little bit better. Not by their talent for the potential recruit ability. Because. To be frank I seat 1819 year old who worked Hurst by having early. Excellence you know because when they were the best at twelve and thirteen. It was because genetically. Physiologically there are so skilled. And then the expectations started happening and then when everyone starts catching up to on the sixteenth seventeen and eighteen. It's a tough challenge form so. You know me holly to sit me hi if you read anything about flow it's a wonderful read he's very academic. I've loved his work. He says of people who get in to flow which we call kind of being in the zone therefore common components the ones who do it on a regular basis number one. Their goal setters but the focus on goals that they control you know in this part of the process not the outcome. So I don't know an athlete doesn't compete to win I don't know an athlete doesn't compete to have a great outcome. But it's the day in day out process schools that are deemed the most important second vault when you do the activity be immersed in that. And kids snowy day with the pressures academically with the pressure socially. Sometimes or sport deserves an escape. But they're not developing because they can't focus on that total Immersion in practice especially if you have negative coaching around them. And again I'm not talking hard coaching I'm talking negative. Defeating. Name calling coaching which I think is highly inappropriate you know but encouraging and keeping high intensity for effort I think that's positive. The third thing people do is focus on the right thing at the right time and that's where mental skills opened the fourth coolest thing about chicks and guys work is. Enjoyment of the activity. And so on our daughter was going up the putter a lot of different sports define words she find her boast enjoyment and she just slow flopping and Golan in the air. And then we were plus to want to do that for years in college and to these remarkable things and couldn't be prouder of what she loved her sport that's been her biggest transition since she's finisher collegiate career is now that new identity. And it's a whole other set of issues so that span of athlete development from you sport all the way. But I tell parents and and I get asked this question a lot is. Help them to create a love for the sport helped him strike their own personal best don't compare him to others. Be very cautious of that because younger and particularly gruesome differently and really reward their effort. These kids tell me about the quiet and Wright's home. And whether they stop it McDonald's Troy Stuart go out he's. You know a nice restaurant is based on the outcome of the performance and I think that's generally message to sort of pressure on kids unnecessarily. But I also understand that culture is unique and hopefully he's our field can help shape at the right way. There's nothing worse in the car and home with a parent. Right no matter what kid does the parents fixated. On the mistake that the kid made and as soon as I kid gets in the car and I did it myself for awhile. A cycle K here's what you need to work on. Critical minded tell my kid what he's what he's supposed to perk on for goodness sakes well like I don't blame the intent I think the intent of most parents is to help challenger children you know help them not accept. Being at their best products out you know losing has an appropriate outcome. But the reality and you know I talk about winning and losing was just look at that outcome on selection Sunday with the march NCAA tournament. They're gonna show 65 team rooms as teams that are I think it's 65 there are many make the tournament. They're gonna show there team rooms there's still a lot of celebration right now and that turned that one team is happy. That doesn't mean the other sixty something we're losers. I think we've put too much of a burden on of expectation and when it drops to that younger level. Is more I have concerns. Because I do believe in the value of sport I do believe that it can be a wonderful environment. As two other environments performing arts there're so many different environment sort of of children find their path. I just happened to fit in this world of sport. And sometimes you gotta understand your daughter and son they may be taking harder themselves and you have to put anything on. The judge is gonna help them learn through the experience because all the way from new sport to the very elite level if you totally attach emotions that outcome. Yeah you never sit back and honestly make changes because you're hesitant and to be correct that we have to learn to critique or criticize. And I think we have to watch your tone and our tenor. And and I speak you know from experience many many years ago when I officiated pop Warner football make a little extra money. While I was a graduate student. And dom some of the things that I heard back then so I'm not saying it's just now I just think the opportunities. Are greater now and unfortunately. You just can't view your your money that you're spending into this as an investment and anything it's really an activity. And you hope the biggest investment his son or daughter's sense of self esteem self concept. Valuing loving something that they conceived through the outcome of our work and effort. Beautiful great stuff thank you doctor Chris Carr. Doctors sports psychology. There was saint Vincent's sports performance Hubert for the pacers bulldogs boiler makers all over the place thanks so much appreciated thanks so much for the time Cuba.