Sports on the Mind
Sports on the Mind
This might be the toughest season of sports we’ve ever seen in our lifetime. The sudden, unexpected stop was one thing, but now the uncertainty of restarts, the cancelations, and the delays of seasons is starting to take its toll. We sit down with Kip Watson, Sports Psychology Professional and Therapist-Supervisor, to talk about the effects of sports on the mind.
As parents, how can we help our athletes cope? What tools can we give our kids to stay in a good mental state? Kip walks us through some tips.
Enjoy this important discussion and listen to other episodes of Hustle & Pro.
- [00:30] Kip’s Role
- [01:30] Kids dealing with delays, cancelations
- [05:30] Parents responsibility to step in
- [11:45] College situation and football domino effect
- [20:40] Tools for athletes
Resources within this episode:
- Anne ‘Kip’ Rodgers Watson, MA, LPC-S, CHPC: Website | Instagram | Twitter
- Kelly Walker: Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Welcome to Hustle and Pro season two, talking sports in Frisco from youth to pro. Now here’s your host Kelly Walker.
Welcome to Hustle and Pro it’s a tough season right now. It’s complicated for athletes and parents and for coaches and for schools and for districts and decision makers, cancellations, and postponing practices and delaying entire seasons. It’s all happening right now. And it’s all playing tricks on our minds and our athletes minds. So we brought in Kip Watson to explore that with us. Welcome back to Hustle and Pro, Kip.
Hey, it’s good to be here. Good to be here.
Good to have you here. Uh, so of course I thought about you. This has been on, on everyone’s mind. Um, the last several months I thought about you to come in and just sort of share your professional opinion. Um, a lot of us as parents think we’re qualified to give, you know, give advice and what should and shouldn’t happen and how we should feel on this topic, but you actually have some chops. So just tell us real quick, um, a little bit about you and who you are and how you kind of fit into the puzzle. When we talk about sports being on the mind here.
Sure. Well, I’ve been in the sports psychology and therapy world here in this area for 23 years. So a long time, um, work a lot with, um, high school athletes, college athletes, professional athletes. And this has definitely been a time where we’ve had to navigate more back towards therapeutic and therapy issues versus, you know, mental performance issues, but guess what they go hand in hand.
Definitely. Okay. Let’s talk about kids in sports, um, and what they specifically are dealing with right now. You mentioned the different, different levels and ages that you work with, but what are you seeing as far as delays and cancellations playing tricks with, with these athletes?
Well, it definitely is, you know, there’s just one big question, Mark. That’s there for a lot of them, um, because kind of like you said, you know, we may get a starting date and then it delays, then it changes and almost at every level, things have been postponed or canceled. And I think it’s hard because sports is something that we normally turn to, especially in times of trauma and crisis, at least nationally, we have, um, as a sense of normality as a sense of distraction on the calendar, it’s like we’re looking forward to a season. Yeah. And that, I think the hard part is kind of what you just said is we don’t have something to aim for. We don’t have something to look forward to or hope for, or like with sports work, we, part of the goal is to set goals, evaluate ourselves, then go challenge ourselves. And we don’t have a sense of when that’s going to happen. And so it’s, we train a lot of times in the off season cause we know the challenge is coming and here we don’t know when that’s coming.
And that challenge, you know, athletes, we thrive off of that challenge and, and facing that personal achievement. Right. And getting to see our friends and our peers and all that. Are you seeing, like,
What is that?
There’s a lot of anxiety. I I’ve actually had three of my clients that have become, you know, a higher level of suicidal ideation where we had to hospitalize. Um, so it is.
Where does that stem from? Is it fear that they won’t get to play again because they’re done with their career at whatever level? Is it just pure, um, anxiety that they don’t know what is going to happen to them?
Yeah, I think it stems from, um, there’s a, it’s not that they want to die all three and all three cases. It was two teenagers. And then I had one executive that I was working with. Um, that’s been much more suicidal. It’s not that I want to die. I just don’t know how to live with the current circumstances as they are. And, and because there’s so much that’s unknown and outside of my control, I don’t know what to do with this. Um, and so it, it, it brings about a sense of hopelessness, which then, you know, what that reveals is that a couple of things somebody’s belief system is more in what they do rather than kind of who they are and their spirituality, so to speak. Um, and then that identity similar, right? It’s in, I’m an athlete, I’m an executive, I’m a mom, I’m a, whatever the role is versus having life skills to be able to adapt and adjust and focus on what is good.
Okay. If that role is compromised because they can’t go out and do that, what do they feel? They don’t have.
They don’t have it in my direction for what am I doing? I don’t know what we’re doing. Um, and they, and they haven’t, they, what it reveals is like, we need to parent to those life skills of adjustment. But a lot of times the parents, in some cases, you know, they’re not, they’re just as ill equipped to adjust. Yeah. And that’s a problem.
Well, like you said, one role is parenting and this is what I’m supposed to be doing and ushering this season of my child’s life in and preparing them to go do this. And, and, and even back to school, not even sports related, it’s all very confusing as a parent, how to best do some of these things for our kids. So we kind of are losing a little bit of that identity too, right now when we don’t even know exactly what’s about to happen to our kids, but you brought up parents. So that was going to ask you about that too. Like there are parents who have high demands and expectations on their athletes any given day. And there are parents who just like watching their kids play for the, for the sport of it. Right. Um, so how do you, how do you tell parents, how do parents deal with this time of uncertainty? I mean, you mentioned they might not be equipped to, to pivot.
It’s, it’s revealing. It is definitely revealing how equipped the adults or the parents are in the household, as much as it is, you know, with the athlete and him or herself. Um, and I think how parents can deal, you got to role model. Okay. You absolutely have to role model when things are uncertain, you still have to be calm. You gotta be confident. You gotta be in control of your own emotions. And this is a crucial time to have open discussion with your children. Not like hiding from the reality of the adversity that we’re facing. And a lot of parents want to do that. They want to protect their kids from the pain and the hurt and the adversity. And this is not a time to do that. Now I don’t recommend turning on the news and watching it, you know, I mean, you need to be informed of what’s going on, but really all reality, turn it off and have those discussions where you are practicing, listening to your kids’ concerns, how they’re feeling, helping them process their emotions in an appropriate way. And you can ask questions like, well, what are you sad about? Well, what were you expecting that experience to be like? And cause you want to get out, what were they hoping for in that experience? And then let’s turn around and, you know, part of it then is creating things to get excited about that. It’s not going to be the same, but it may create the kind of feelings and experience they want to have.
If that makes sense.
It does. Yeah. Um, because it’s easy to just, like you said, maybe avoid it if you don’t want to get to those hurtful places and discuss those things with your kids, because they know you expect them to be disappointed in a season postponement or something, but what you might not realize is the thing they were most looking forward to, you can maybe still try to get to that somehow.
Well, you mentioned that about, well, I hit the reason a lot of kids like to be involved in sports is because they get to do it with their friends. Well, let’s get with your friends appropriately. So all the protocols in place, um, but that you can still spend time with your friends doing things, or you come up with your own kind of Olympics, right? You create something physical to go train for. I mean, I even pushed myself yesterday and my bench workout. Like I went to the park and I have, uh, you know, bench workouts that I created and I thought, well, I’m going to do five rounds while I got done with five. And I’m like, nah, come on. And I pushed myself to do 10 rounds.
Just to hit those personal achievements, performance feeling. Yeah.
Do you, as parents, you also have to teach your kids that they can be disappointed and grieve and be okay. Yeah. And then they can also let’s look at what is still good. What can we be grateful for? What is the good that’s going to come out of this situation? Right.
I’ve done this with my oldest lately. This, you can tell me if this is right or wrong. Um, we kind of talk about backup plans. So she’s actually in the process of trying out for a high school team right now. And it’s questionable. We feel like she’s on that bubble. She feels like she’s on that cut bubble. So we talk about if the season happens or not, it’s one of UIL, just Popo postponed it it’ll it’s right now schedule is about a month behind. Right. Um, from what it would have been. But we talk about, if you don’t make it, here’s some backup plans, like what will we pivot to go look for? You have to change your schedule. We’re going to change it to try this. And maybe you can go back to try that and then try out for this next year. Just sort of discuss the options so that if she feels disappointment in getting cut, she doesn’t automatically feel like that was it. That was the end of the line for her. So that still Excel at school. So I don’t know. And then, and then we talk about that with, if the season doesn’t happen, cause you know, pushed back for weeks, great. Could be pushed back another four and definitely never happened. But I think it’s important as a parent, you have to leave that conversation. What if it doesn’t happen? I don’t want to scare her and just be negative, but it’s just the proactive preemptively saying we hope it happens. That’d be great. If we can get this season in, if it doesn’t, maybe we can focus on improving this specific skill or doing, you know, I don’t know, whatever it is in your kid’s life. Like finding something else.
No, that’s excellent. Okay. I mean, whether you’re actually playing your sport or not have a plan B plan C plan D, right? Those things are important, no matter what it’s called the life skill of adjusting. Yeah. Right. Every goal has a plan, but every plan requires adjustments. I call it GPA. Right. Goals, plans, adjustment.
Okay. I like that.
And so you have to keep that in mind with whatever goal that you have, and especially now where on any given day, right. It may change and it has been changing.
Yeah. If you set team goals right now, those might not be attainable. In reality, you might need to just focus on you and your individual training and how often you can get outside and run or whatever your goals are. Yeah. My, my little soccer guides juggling, you know, things he can do in the backyard, certain goals to get to a certain number, right. Juggles on his own every day. In addition to the other practices and things he does
Well throughout this time, I’ve told my clients and my teams, it’s like, you can still have ambition and that’s important. Cause that, that generates motivation. Now motivation is a skill. So you got to keep your ambition in front of you. Um, and ambition right now is changing. Um, and it is a time to explore things. Maybe, um, your kids have interests in other things and if they don’t, well, then let’s get them some interests in other things. Right. And then you have to take command of that ambition, which has all the discipline stuff, the actions and the things you do. So if it’s a time to explore photography because you like photography, well, then go explore it. You got time. Yeah.
I love that. Okay. Let’s enough about me and my kids stuff, but let’s talk about your clients. Are you seeing big threats to those that are vying for college scholarships or spots on college rosters? I feel like that’s a big, big one. It’s not in my household, but I know it’s happening in neighbors and people around me. And like what, you know, what kind of effects are you seeing in that?
Um, yeah, we’re, we’re starting to see, I think as I texted you earlier, um, that the dominoes are falling, um, Boise state being one division, one school that, um, they’ve already disbanded their baseball and their swimming dive programs. They canceled the bill. They were going to build a new baseball stadium and they canceled that because they’re having to figure out the budget. Yep. Um, so what, what happens all those athletes now they’re going to honor those scholarships, but, but more than likely right now, they’re going to try to find a spot to go play. Um, and I think if we don’t have a football season, we’re going to have massive amounts of that sort of thing happening.
And because that’s the largest section of scholarship well
Weights, or, but it’s not so much that, but football funds all the other programs. That’s where the money, if we don’t bring in the money from football, that’s, you know, funding, swimming and diving and gymnastics and lacrosse and soccer and whatever, then we’re going to have a huge problem. We’re going, you know, coaches are going to go away. Scholarships are going away. Programs are going away. And so we’ve got to hope and pray. We, yeah.
And there are parts of the country that know they’re not going to have a fall football season already. Right.
League has already canceled the all fall sports, um, closer to us in the DFW area. Austin college’s canceled all fall sports. Um, you know, that’s a division three school, but still right. That’s what brings in money. So it’s happening the, to know exactly the trickle down effect don’t know, but I’ve certainly, you know, my junior seniors and then the freshmen collegiate athletes that I have are being impacted by that. So are those that are
Committed somewhere or the freshmen level you talk about, that’s already going somewhere. So you’re saying they might still be, um, given the scholarship piece to get their education. They can’t be playing as an athlete. Are you saying they have to then choose to go move to a different school plan altogether and go try to play somewhere else, right? Yeah. Right. And that’s probably really tough because
Other people are in the yeah, like we’re, we’re all those same people are still trying to get those scholarships. You already fought for a few years to get where you are. Right? Yeah. Yeah. And even my son, my son was a freshman last year playing college football. He was red shirted. So this will be his first year of eligibility. He reported two weeks ago and then everything got, he said, well, everything’s basically canceled, but we’re going to stay here. And strength and conditioning do drills, but we can’t practice per se football until August 31st. Okay. Oh, okay. And then games don’t until the end of September.
Okay. Well that’s so something
Postpone. Yeah. Right. Um, could be worse, could be worse.
And when he’s there, he gets to stay there on campus
To stay their workout and work out and eat. And you know, all those things
Feed a little bit of his, you know, need, right?
Yeah. He worked hard all summer. Um, and you know, it’s, it’s different. It’s not what they anticipated happening, but at least he gets to be there among his teammates.
I was going to say the comradery, he gets some of that. Yeah. It’s not sheltered too much. Right. Cause my daughter gets still gets the feel of the team. Even though they’re not physically touching and doing things during practice, they’re still in small groups together and get to do some sort of workouts together.
Do they do now? They’ve got those protocols in place. They have to take two showers a day. They got a shower before they leave the facilities right after everybody, you know, you’re, you’re doing your bench press, well, you gotta wipe everything down before the next person goes. Right. It’s a slower pace. Right. And there’s much more sanitizing going on. Yeah. You know? Um, and they get their temperature taken before they, you know, as they enter into the facility.
That’s good. Good precautions. Yeah. I mean, what else are you going to do? The coaches wear masks. I even saw a picture of Mack Brown, who he had a mask on and he had a six foot stick where he would keep his distance using to carry around the stick.
That’s a great way to role model for those young people. They see that he’s taking it seriously so that they should too. Yeah. That’s great. And you mentioned the domino effect. I mean, I didn’t, I hadn’t thought about it in those terms before that football. I mean, I know football is a driver of, of money, but that this is way more than this coming season for whatever sport we’re talking about. Right. You’re talking if football revenue doesn’t come in 20, 20 fall season, that is going to have an impact on one, two, however many years down the road for her other sports, if they can ever even come back to that campus. Correct? Yes. That could be detrimental.
Hugely detrimental to our sports culture. Yeah. That’s still scary. But, and I don’t know that people really think about it cause they think, Oh, well it’s just canceled or delayed, but that impacts people’s jobs. Oh yeah. Right. And the money that’s out there for scholarships, I’m sure. You know, and you know, that can affect alumni giving. Right. If there’s, yeah. If there’s no games I can attend or whatever, then I’m not as inclined to give the whole, the whole,
Whole budget shifts it extreme and we’ll continue to yeah. That’s what I did not, um, have, you know, kind of realized before. Yeah. Okay. So you mentioned real quick those jobs. Um, yeah. So what about coaches? I mean, what are I I’m guessing they can be, well, it’s sort of like the parenting piece, right? They have to be positive comp, have some confidence in their team and their players, even though they can’t act as a normal team would be calm. Right. And the, probably some of that open-minded conversation that they have to have to keep the expectations real.
Right. And that again is ever shifting. So I think you really have to almost over communicate with your teams and your parents. Yeah. Cause I’ve certainly seen where, uh, at least early on I had a number of clients where the coach was communicating nothing. Like there was just like, no communication, no email, no zoom conferencing that makes me anxious and that’s what was happening. Right. And, and to the point where it was like, what, like what are we doing?
Um, it makes you lose confidence in them and then everything. Yeah.
Right. And even though it’s ever changing, just let your parents and your athletes know, here’s what we’re, here’s where we currently stand. Whether that’s, you know, couple times a week send out an status quo. Like we don’t know. But here’s what,
And I like hearing from a coach saying even if it’s two weeks from tomorrow where I’m sitting back down with, so and so to discuss UIL stuff. Yep. Okay. That at least lets me know, nothing’s really probably going to be announced right now. Don’t need to be watching everything. Like you got a date maybe the day or two after that let’s expect more communication. Correct. Just to kind of know, like you feel like you’re in the know with what they are.
Right. Even though it’s unknown. Right. And, or it’s sometime in the future. Yeah. At least now I can go, Oh, okay. Right. And you’re staying on top of it and you’ll let us know when something changes. Right.
Right. And I like, um, the idea of them saying just remember everything you hear could very well be rumor don’t go making plans or make getting upset because you heard a mom say this to someone. If you didn’t hear it from us or the district or, or a governing body that we’re playing with, just don’t assume that that’s something real. Yeah.
I think that is very important. Um, check with me. It’s like coach like have an open door policy right now. If you didn’t in the past, have one now for athletes and parents to ask their questions or at least have a go to person designated like designated point person for those types of questions. Um, and that way maybe you’re not bombarded by everything, but there’s a point person that’s dealing with all of those types of things,
Because your questions as a parent anyway, are probably similar to everyone else’s so yeah. Yeah. I can probably answer them or at least give you something to help you get, you know, get some assurance for a few more days or weeks. Yeah. Okay. You mentioned, I want to talk about then, um, tools for athletes to cope. Um, you mentioned GPA that was goals. What’s the second one plan plan, adjust, adjust goals, plan adjust. Yeah. So I feel like that’s a tool. I don’t know if that’s the right terminology for it, but what are other things athletes should be? What, what tools can you give your client athletes, um, to feel better right now? Well, I,
One of the biggest things that I’m having each of my athletes do is to continue to set weekly goals. And those will look different than maybe obviously when you, you know, you have a start date or, you know, when you’re going to compete again, but it is important to set goals every week or results that you want that are within your control, a hundred percent in your control baseball player. I was just working with, um, you know, he just set a goal for this week to maintain a positive attitude. Does he have a hundred percent control over that? Absolutely. Yeah, he does. And then figure out what are the action steps you’re going to take to do that. Now some of that’s going to be your physical practice, but maybe now as a time to really develop a really strong mental toughness practice, which can involve doing some reading on like sports psych or, you know, personal, we call it personal development books. Yep. I’m listening to podcasts like this one. Yes. Is something that can be a regular routine because it helps you stay in the right mind for sure. I’m doing things like that. Meditation.
I love meditation. It makes me feel better every time. What about, um, that positive attitude? Of course, yes. I love that. I mean, got a tattoo for it because of that last year, but what about, um, bringing up a teammate, you know, reaching out, making it part of your weekly goal that you’re going to reach out and connect with a teammate, even if it’s just a daily text or a yes. Whatever you’re allowed to do. Right. I think that’s a great idea. And that’s actually something I adopted early on for myself is to reach out to
Five people. Um, each day that maybe I haven’t touched base with in a while that’s a lie. Well, but it could be like a text or if I really wanted to talk to the person, I’d call them or email them or, um, I don’t know, send like send them a link to something that I found helpful, you know? Um, and I was kinda, I was, I was better at that kind of in April and may reaching out to people, just checking in on people that I wouldn’t normally do, but you can absolutely do that. Make an effort to connect with two teammates a day, whether you actually can physically get together and do a workout, um, zoom call FaceTime, um, texting each other, snapping each other. They’re tik toking, whatever you want to do.
Um, you, you need that connection is important, especially
For our young people. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Any other major tip that you have in your, on your mind or in your notes that you want to get out there as well? Uncertain as it is? I think the big thing, whether a parent, a coach, a lot of, a lot of parents are coaches
Is to, especially at the youth level. Again, I just want to encourage you to really role model right now on how to deal with adversity. This is a pivotal point, a defining point in the history of the world and you know, 10, 20, 30 years from now, you know, your kids are going to be telling stories of this time. What is the story you want them to tell and you need to live that out now. And so it comes from you role modeling that and creating structure as you can, for things that are still good and right and worthy of pursuing.
I love that, man. I forgot that analogy you gave. When I first ever heard you speak about what story do you want your kids to look back and tell about their things for me? Yeah. It’s, it’s all it’s
Well, it goes back to Stephen Covey, right? The seven habits. And like, you gotta tell your story of your funeral now. Right. And what you want people to say. And so adopt that same sort of mentality to this big, you know, global adjustment period it’s happening. Whether we want to or not. So you don’t want to tell a story of whining, complaining, moaning, anxiety. Like you just, that’s not the story you want to tell or that I was lazy. I gained 30 pounds and that’s not the story you want to tell. Right, right, right. Yeah.
Well, I love that. So this, this topic is evolving daily. I mean sometimes when we first scheduled this, we’ve had changes in our own, you know, children’s sports lives and your clients. So here is hoping that youth athletes can get to safely enjoy their seasons, whatever those may be, whether their fall or spring or flip flopped in between the two or next year, even everything. Um, and if they aren’t able to do that, that here’s hoping that they can find a way to, you know, mentally to stay strong and to move forward into tell that story that you’re talking about in a positive way.
Yeah. So they’re going to get through this. It’s temporary. It is. We just don’t know how temporary.
Well parents, we have to help our help our kids by modeling, like you said, so thank you for coming back and sitting down with us again and thank you all for listening. So subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts and we will see you next week.