When Bauman worked with ski jumpers, for example, he
noticed that they all looked down to check their bindings before
jumping. Putting a relevant word or symbol on each ski helped
remind them to do whatever they needed to do. A simple letter “P,”
for example, can remind athletes to keep a healthy perspective and
focus on their assets — skills, strength and great support staff —
rather than negatives — inadequate preparation, tough opponents
and the high stakes of competition.
Working with coaches is another way to make sure
sport psychology messages get through to athletes, says
Steve Portenga, PhD, chair of the psychological services
subcommittee at USA Track and Field.
Portenga has helped develop educational programs that
teach coaches basic sport psychology principles and help them
understand the needs of special populations, such as younger
athletes. The programs also teach coaches interventions they
can use to help athletes hone such skills as relaxation.
“You can get to hundreds of athletes through coaching education,” says Portenga. “It’s much more difficult to get to athletes
directly.” Plus, he says, coaches usually have more influence over
athletes than sport psychologists do, for good or bad.
Portenga recalls working with a college team several
years ago. Just before a match, the coach announced that the
opposing team was one he used to work for and urged his
current team to go out and beat them. “It took only 30 seconds
for the coach to undo the great progress we’d made over the
course of four or five months,” says Portenga. “We had been
focusing on the process — being able to perform at your
best regardless of the outcome — and had been getting good
outcomes.” The result of the coach’s message? Distracted players
and one of the season’s worst meets.
Rebecca A. Clay is a writer in Washington, D.C.
ANNOUNCING THE 2012–2013
APA is pleased to announce a program for universities and colleges—the Psychology
Department Program (PDP). This program offers valuable information and useful
resources to enhance teaching and learning in psychology.
THE BENEFITS OF ENROLLMENT IN THE PDP INCLUDE:
• Teaching Ethically: Challenges and
• Evidence-Based Teaching for Higher
• American Psychologist
• Monitor on Psychology
• Psychology Teacher Network
• The Educator
• Principles for Quality Undergraduate
Education in Psychology
• Guidelines for the Undergraduate
• Careers in Psychology—DVD and guide
• Student affiliations—Free student affiliate
memberships for three of your students
• List of participating programs on the
• PDP-NEWS listserv
Cost of enrollment in the PDP: $300
To enroll or for more information, please visit
MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY • JULY/AUGUST 2012
6/4/12 9:06 AM