Recently I’ve been asked “What do I get when I pay for sport psychology training?” It’s been a tough question to answer, because every mental skills coach is different. So I decided I need to tell you my story.
“What do I get when I pay for sport psychology training?”
You get me.
So who are you?
When I was 6 and a half years old I won an MVP award from my swim team. They awarded me the, “I will finish the race before I pull up my suit,” award. I won that race.
In high school I decided to try out other sports besides swimming. Tennis and soccer were my passions. Later on ultimate frisbee. I tell you this to explain that sports are a part of my blood almost as much as chlorine is.
Eventually I returned to swim in the NCAA and was injured by my coach overtraining me. Injury in sport is a horrible thing. It crushes your identity, your self-worth. It takes something you love, something that defines you, and makes it impossible to enjoy, and hard to face.
My coach injured me through simple carelessness. It was a physical wound I still carry to this day, and a mental wound that took almost a decade to repair.
So that week, I discovered the harsh truth of American athletics. Athletes are expendable.
There began my ten year quest to understand how such a venerable coach could make such a huge mistake, and to make sure it didn’t happen again.
I started in Japan, 2007, where I partially rehabilitated my swimming injury through careful study of stroke techniques. I also began my training of athletes in Japan. It could be seen as the launch of my coaching career.
Following Japan I moved to Boston where I drowned myself in the science of the human body. I trained swimmers from the ages of 3 to 78. I coached a national champion 100y breaststroker. Nearly every swimmer on my squad began shattering personal records.
In the meanwhile I snuck into lectures at Harvard on human physiology and psychology. I found a world-renowned expert on human evolution and bothered him until he let me join his marathon training group.
One day I ran 18 miles barefoot with him (He was a barefoot runner, Daniel Lieberman.) so that I could ask him questions. It hurt, but I pushed through. Later I found out that I had dislocated a bone in my foot halfway through the run. The price we pay for knowledge; it took almost 6 months to heal.
Once I was satisfied that I knew everything about the physical aspects of swimming, I turned to the mental.
There began my odyssey to Europe, where I studied for two years obtaining my Master’s degree in sport science, specializing in sport psychology. Two years of intense learning, practical training, supervised consulting, and research.
Here at the “center of all sport” in Finland, I had the opportunity to study under famous sport psychologists. From the US, Australia, Germany, France, Denmark, the UK, they came and conducted workshops, seminars, and courses.
We had great resources for our practical training. The Finnish institute for olympic sport research was in the same building. I immersed myself in Finnish and began coaching on the local swim team. I had the privilege of coaching special- and para-olympians and working with national champions.
Eventually, as it seems is the case with gamers the world over, my eyes turned to eSport. I realized that the science of human performance applied equally well to this new, fantastic sport.
My swimming identity had come the full circle from child prodigy, to burnout, to returned superstar, to injured athlete. From there I journeyed to find meaning and discovered all the errors my coach had made. I vindicated myself by training, with both mental and physical wellness at the foremost, a whole host of successful swimmers.
As this wet chapter in my life slowly faded from my passions, eSports began rising in front of me, with its wealth of possibilities. I started blogging about mental skills in eSport and began adapting prominent techniques and theories to this new realm.
My labor is slowly bearing fruit, and today I am successfully establishing a training portal for players aiming to go pro. Additionally I have finally begun coaching again. This time instead of seeking for meaning in 2 minutes of wet, chlorinated frenzy, the coaches and athletes I work with are seeking glory in strategic, tactical mastery and precise mechanical skills.
The future is always uncertain. Moreso in eSport even than traditional sport. But I am happy to have found a new home for my passions, and I am confident I am up to any challenge the future might hold.