As the founder of Total Wellness and Elite Performance Consulting, LLC, Conrad Woolsey, PhD, CMPC, CHES, director of the University of Western States (UWS) sport and performance psychology program, provides wellness and performance enhancement services to collegiate, professional and Olympic athletes, as well as to business leaders, executives and university athletic departments.
In 2017, Dr. Woolsey worked in conjunction with NxtGen sports as a sport psychology and talent development consultant, as well as with Major League Baseball (MLB) organizations to help them identify psychological factors that are important to improving player development and scouting programs. As part of his consulting, Dr. Woolsey helps MLB organizations in the refinement of mental skills training programs and with improving evaluation methods. His focus is on the improvement of player development programs for existing players and the evaluation of future draft picks.
In professional baseball, perfectionism is a common personality trait that can develop into performance issues. In a sport where failure and criticism are large parts of the game, Dr. Woolsey aims to help players with the perfectionist personality profile develop a healthier, happier and more adaptive mindset. To do this, he uses a strength-based approach with an emphasis on teaching positive psychology techniques and by helping people make improvements to daily skills such as self-talk. As part of this process, players develop a motivational style focused on approaching challenges versus motivation based on avoiding failure.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the field of sport psychology is that mental performance consultants are just for athletes with performance issues. The reality is that sport and performance psychology is for improving and achieving optimal performance. Often those who seek additional help are already performing at the highest levels, but want to get even better.
“Sport and performance psychology is for people who want to become the best that they can be,” explained Dr. Woolsey. “It’s for people who love what they do and for people who want to have more fun. It’s for parents who want to give their kids the best chances to succeed and to stay healthy. It is for bosses who want to help get the most out of their employees without causing burnout or an unhealthy work environment.”
READ MORE ABOUT DR. CONRAD WOOLSEY AND THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN STATES SPORT AND PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY PROGRAM HERE.
An example of a profession that uses mental performance consultants for enhancing performance versus overcoming a specific problem is the military. Currently, the military and special forces are the biggest regular-employer of sport and performance consultants. Some of the main goals within these organizations are teaching skills such as stress management, relaxation techniques, concentration under extreme pressure, communication skills and effective coping mechanisms.
Dr. Woolsey was first motivated to study sport psychology because he wanted to maximize his own performance as a college athlete. He later became certified in sport psychology during his time as a college and professional coach because he wanted to be sure he was doing everything he could to help those he served to be successful.
“Growing up, I was lucky to have several good coaches, teachers and amazing family support, but also had my fair share of bad sport experiences,” he explained. “Living on both sides of sport and seeing the major impact that sport can have on kids (both positive and negative) is what initially inspired me to become a coach and a teacher. Having multiple surgeries, rehabbing to get back to top shape, and then having even more surgeries also had a big influence on why I got involved with the field of sport psychology. While injured, often the only thing I could do to get better was to work on skills such as visualization and training my mind. While my body became limited on what it could do, I could still get better by improving my mental skills.”
As director of the sport and performance psychology program at UWS, Dr. Woolsey has helped design the curriculum to prepare graduates with the first-hand experience needed to serve as leaders in sport, coaching, mental health counseling and wellness disciplines.
“At UWS, we are making a big difference by training leaders, coaches and parents by giving them the tools to effectively help others have meaningful sport and work experiences. The goal of our program is to train leaders of today and tomorrow to be even better at what they do and to help communities become healthier, happier and more successful.”
When asked the question, “what is the most important thing to keep in mind before beginning a career in sport psychology,” Dr. Woolsey stresses that one must enter the profession for the right reasons and be motivated by wanting to help others first and foremost.
“You have to be dedicated to learning all you can about people and what motivates them,” he explained. “This calls for skilled listeners and someone good at empathizing with others. Helping people is both an art and a science. In this field, those who have that as their intrinsic motivation will go far.”
World Golf and LPGA Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam as been selected as AASP’s 2017 Performance Excellence Award winner, which recognizes individuals who embody exemplary psychological principles associated with performance excellence as demonstrated through consistent achievement, merit or leadership over the course of their career.
Annika Sorenstam is the greatest female golfer of our generation, and often regarded as the best of all-time. During her 15 year, Hall-of-Fame career, she rewrote the LPGA and Ladies European Tour record books, won countless awards, and changed the way women’s golf was played, viewed and covered. She amassed 89 worldwide victories, including 72 on the LPGA and 10 Major Championships. Annika holds a record number of Rolex Player of the Year awards (eight) and Vare Trophies for the lowest scoring average in a season (six). As the only female to break 60 in an official event, she has been nicknamed “Ms. 59.” Perhaps most notably, Annika received worldwide media attention when she became the first woman to play in a PGA TOUR event since 1945, joining the men at the 2003 Colonial Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas.
Previous award recipients include NFL Hall of Fame kicker Morten Anderson, Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer and WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes and endurance athlete Diana Nyad.
Sorenstam will be honored on Friday, October 20 at AASP’s 32th Annual Conference at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, Florida. She will share insights about her professional career and how she and other players utilized sport psychology on tour. Sorenstam will discuss how the “mental game” is approached differently by today’s players and her approaches to mental conditioning and peak performance at both her Florida academy and as captain of the European Team at the 2017 Solheim Cup.Link to this news item
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AASP has partnered with the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) to provide their members, who are former professional basketball players in the NBA, ABA, WNBA, and Harlem Globetrotters, access to sport psychology consultants that can help them transition to life after basketball.
“AASP offers a host of tools and training techniques that are essential for our members to make a successful transition to retirement and begin the next stage of their lives,” said Arnie Fielkow, NBRPA CEO. “AASP consultants will serve as a great resource and benefit for members that are learning to cope with their changing identities and emotional attachment to the game.”
To kick off the new partnership, AASP leaders will join the NBRPA’s 2017 NBA All-Star Weekend Celebration in New Orleans, Louisiana to provide information on AASP services, answer individual questions and begin the process of connecting members with AASP consultants in their area.
“We are thrilled to provide our skills and expertise to NBRPA members,” said Dr. Brent Walker, AASP’s Past President. “Leveraging our national network of sport psychology consultants, AASP’s members are available to speak confidentially about personal issues ranging from difficulties with transitioning away from basketball, to starting a second career, to managing changing family roles.”
AASP currently has over 2,400 members in 50 countries worldwide, with backgrounds in a variety of areas including sport science, social work, counseling and clinical psychology. Many NBA teams currently work with an AASP sport psychology professional.Link to this news item