Accent Image for Episode 33: Winning the Mental Game: Sport Psychology with Dr. Mitchell Greene

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Episode 33: Winning the Mental Game: Sport Psychology with Dr. Mitchell Greene

Bob Boland  00:02
Welcome to the Mind Dive podcast brought to you by The Menninger Clinic, a national leader in mental health care. We're your hosts, Dr. Bob Boland,
Kerry Horrell  00:11
and Dr. Kerry Horrell. Twice monthly, we dive into mental health topics that fascinate us as clinical professionals, and we explore those unexpected dilemmas that arise while treating patients. Join us for all of this, plus the latest research and perspectives from the minds of distinguished colleagues near and far. Let's dive in We're delighted today to have Dr. Mitchell Greene with us on the Mind Dive Podcast. He is a sports psychologist and owner of Greenepsych Clinical & Sport Psychology in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He works primarily with athletes pursuing high performance goals, and coaches looking to educate their student athletes on mental health. Also, his new book is out now titled courage over competence, managing mind chatter and winning the mental game. Welcome to the podcast.
Bob Boland  01:12
Glad to have you.
Mitch Greene  01:13
Thank you both wonderful introduction. I appreciate it.
Kerry Horrell  01:17
This is really exciting because we haven't had anyone on for sports psychology. I think it is such an interesting subfield of psychology.
Bob Boland  01:26
Absolutely. It's something we're getting more involved in. Here
Kerry Horrell  01:28
We are. That's right.  Also just I want to say courage, overconfidence, this is real cheesy, but my I'm a big SoulCycle girly. And I feel like a few of my favorite SoulCycle coaches, they are big over saying that like, not necessarily courage over confidence, but like courage is so much better than needing to like be perfect. You know, accept failure. Anyways, I'm like, I'm not a sports girly...
Bob Boland  01:52
You're a SoulCycle person?
Kerry Horrell  01:53
I am a soul cycler and this is reminding me of that.
Mitch Greene  01:56
Well, that's the athlete, absolutely, in you. And there are days, I'm sure there are days where it takes more courage to get out there on the bike than it does, you know, confidence that you're going to be able to keep up you know,
Kerry Horrell  02:05
It's definitely a mental game like 90% of the time with me.
Mitch Greene  02:09
Yeah. With all of us, Kerry. So don't don't feel like it's only you.
Bob Boland  02:15
Well, why don't you tell us a little about yourself, you know, and how you got interested in sports psychology?
Mitch Greene  02:20
Sure. So I'm, I'm actually both a clinical and sports psychologist. I got my PhD in clinical psych, in the early 90s. And at that time, I was still following closely. Although I got my degree here in Philadelphia at Temple University. I was still following all the sports news from New York, where I'm from, which is from New York City. I was following this one particular athlete who played for the New York Yankees named Chuck Knobloch. And if you're in my age range, you may remember that Chuck Knobloch, by the time he got to the Yankees was playing second base and having trouble throwing the ball from second to first base accurately, he was throwing it over the first baseman's head, he was throwing it in the dirt. And this was an all star and MVP, who now had a mental block in front of the entire world. And I was fascinated by it. And I tried to read everything I could about it, when I should have been reading my you know, my stats stuff and my personality theory stuff, I was busy trying to figure out, you know, pre-heavy internet, you know, the internet was just beginning, trying to figure out what it was that happened to to not block. And while I didn't go right into sports psych after I graduated, I did traditional clinical psych work in an outpatient setting afterwards, I never forgot about it. And I and I had an opportunity early in my career to make a bit of a switch. And it was really because of I wanted to better understand why people who are seemingly have all the talent in the world could all of a sudden struggle so mightily.
Kerry Horrell  03:51
First of all, that's a sad, I don't know, I'm not familiar with this particular baseball player. But I do feel like that's a very sad story, the idea that, like, a person would know they have it in them, and then something happens in their mind. I mean, it feels like it feels all too familiar to like, I feel like we've all been there where all this sudden anxiety takes over. And all of a sudden, something that I know,
Bob Boland  04:12
Mental blocks that become kind of....
Mitch Greene  04:17
Yeah, I think I think we all I, you know, the hardcore Yankee fans were pissed off at him because he was blowing it for their team. As a psychologist, I was I was, you know, empathic towards him and thinking, like I could get it how he is you're saying he gets got stuck in his head, although he didn't talk much about it. And he was out of the league a few when they weren't moving him to the outfield where you didn't have to be as accurate with your throws. And then maybe just a few years later, he retired because, and he's not the only one. I mean, there have been other athletes who famously have have kind of had these massive mental blocks that have taken them out of the game. But that was the one that really got me interested in sport Psych.
Kerry Horrell  04:56
Okay, so let me give you a random anecdote that happened recently. My husband and I have been big Sacramento Kings fans our whole life, like from grade school. And I have, you know, I'm just not a super sports girl and my husband has stuck with them. Anyways, they just made the NBA Playoffs, playoffs. Thank you. That's what it was. And they took the Warriors to Game Seven. And we were very excited about it. Anyways, we were watching one some of the games and, and my husband, at some point was talking about one of the players whose name I unfortunately, cannot remember this moment. But he, he is normally very good at making three pointers. And he just, it's like Game Six, you know, this is a game where they could have been out. And he just keeps missing these three points. And my husband is like, so critical of this man. He was like just being like, "Come on!" And I was like, He's under so much stress. Like, I'm just sitting there psychologists being like, more kid, first of all, I'm sure he's like, early 20s, he is probably mad stressed that they could be out of the playoffs this game. And he and once he missed a few, the pressure, just what I imagined, just keep building and my husband's yelling at him over the TV. And I was just feeling so sad and stressed out for him. And so I wonder if you can tell us a little bit. I mean, that's just like my peripheral snapshot, I imagine some of the culture is, but I wonder if you could tell us about what it's like working with athletes that level of pressure, and how you understand kind of their culture.
Mitch Greene  06:24
I think that's actually a good point to jump off on. Because people assume just because you're playing at the highest level that you don't have the doubts, and what I call the mind chatter or the anxiety, whatever you want to call it. And absolutely, I you know, I'm sure that player had his his bouts of the moment of thinking, Maybe I should stop shooting. And that's what often will happen, they'll want to pass instead of shooting, or they're so not focused on shooting, they're focused on not messing up that, of course, their shots wind up, going off. And so we see it even at the even at the highest level is, as you just described, and I work with athletes, from the youngest sort of levels, we work with middle schoolers, and high schoolers here, all the way up to the college and elite athletes, and then up to the pro and Olympic level. And really, at every level of the sport, we see the chatter, you know, running rampant over over athletes, I think more than ever guys, for you know, you're seeing it as well, just with the general anxiety that we're seeing more in kids and teens, and some of it COVID related some of it just the way we're all living our lives these days. And sports has become as you know, a big commodity. And there's a lot riding on it. For a lot of these families for these kids and for their families. Some it's a ticket to an edge, a great education, some, it's an ego thing, some you know, it's it's some combination of a number, a number of things. And so I see athletes who from younger and younger ages are feeling as though everything is on the line, every time they step out there on a weekend to play in a local tournament, or, of course, a national tournament. And they don't know how to manage that stress. And that pressure and my job is to try to help them help them with all that.
Bob Boland  08:04
Wow. Yeah, I mean, so that's what you're describing those sounds pretty common in athletes. And I think everyone who's sort of has been involved in sports and certainly, you know, with, you know, kids in sports and stuff, know that they go through these phases of where there, you know, you have streaks, and then you have a cold spells, or you're not doing well. And people get very discouraged and all and there's not much you seem to be able to do about it. How bad this like what brings them to see you like how bad does it get before they would actually seek professional help?
Mitch Greene  08:33
Oh, good question. So the kinds of reasons people come and see me is because they've lost confidence will be like the number one reason they'll say like, Hey, Doc, I was confident three weeks ago, I've seemed to have lost it. I was confident a year ago, I can't seem to find it. They'll come to me because they're angry and mad and fighting they're on the field sometimes and off the field, they're finding their lives have sort of have taken a real downturn because they can't seem to perform well on the field. And so their lives affect their sport, their sport is affecting their lives, it's just not happy anymore. People come to me because of coach player issues and relationship problems they can't seem to get along with the coach they don't know why the coach isn't talking to them or playing with them and there it helps to talk to somebody who gets this wild world of sports and and and can appreciate the dynamics that go on within it. nerves and jitters probably is also one of the main ones I get too nervous when I'm out there so I can't focus I get too anxious and I can't concentrate and that they underperform so in practice they're playing an A plus kind of game on game day they're playing their C game and they're frustrated because of amount of time and energy and effort they've put into it and there's they're not getting the results they want.
Kerry Horrell  09:49
Again, I'm I just feel such empathy for that experience of like what it would feel like to be all of a sudden when the pressures on and when you really need to perform like just really struggling but like that a psychologist makes so much sense to me that the high pressure and the high anxiety and the feeling I mean, for a bit, I was working in a high school doing helping with IEP assessments. And I remember working with a few kids who like, these are juniors in high school, like 15-16 years old, and they're just feeling like, "If I don't get this water polo scholarship, my whole life is over."  And I was just like, that would be so cool if you got that scholarship. And also, you have so much going on for you you've like that, like in the minds, I think, especially of young people, like it can be so intense the feeling of like, if I screw up at all, I'm throwing my life away in my potential way. And I can imagine like, if that's in your mind, like, if that is somewhere even in the back of your mind, as you're trying to like focus on your shot or doing what you need to do like that would be impossible, of course, you would end up just like not being at your best.
Mitch Greene  10:54
Absolutely. And we want him talking about all the stakes that that these young and not so young people feel is on the line, when they play. And if I write it down on this big whiteboard, I have in my office, all that's at stake from not just the winning and losing, but that their whole lives now will be turned upside down and there'll be never be happy again. Yeah, it would be hard to for any of us to play well, if all of that was actually on the line. And so the thing though, guys, I think that's important to appreciate, particularly with the athletes, that I see is that they really don't talk about this generally speaking very much. In other words, coming to me is one of the great privileges I feel of my job is I get to hear things that athletes are sharing really sometimes for the first time about what freaks them out and how scared they are, and what what they are, who will be disappointed them and who's going to be, you know, the expectations that they're not meeting. And so because then I know, you know might be something we wanted to tell you about a trip, but stereotypically in the athlete culture, it's still it's still that kind of game where you don't reveal that you actually are freaked out and nervous and worried and upset, you know, because if you do the people coach might think less of you, your teammates might not think you really care enough. Or you're just not tough enough. My office is sometimes the very first time I could have somebody who's even heading to like an Olympic Games or an Olympic trials. And maybe the first step, they're obviously greatly talented, because they've gotten that far. But it might be the first time they were actually talking about the fact that that they completely lack confidence. And every time they compete, they are an utter mess, you know, throwing up on the way to the competition, or you know, getting sick, you know, for needing to go to the bathroom 20 times, because they have those chattery thoughts. So it's, and I think the other thing to appreciate is it's not just athletes where you know, all of us who face high stakes circumstances can get full of chatter, too, and have oversized fears and catastrophic worries and particularly with athletes with all that they feel is on the line, it's, it's become a big problem.
Kerry Horrell  13:01
I'm going to bookmark that thought and come back to it because the the part about other people and how this is, in some ways, kind of a global experience. But I do want to pause for a second and think about some of the work that you've done and how important it's been, I imagine taking what we know from psychology and like, you know, in our jargon and way of thinking about it, and turning it into and putting it into laypersons terms that athletes can really understand. In your book, you use the phrase mind chatter, and you've sort of taken again, the ideas about anxiety and things and helped kind of make it into this concrete thing. Can you tell us about kind of what your understanding of mind chatter is? And also maybe how you help athletes understand how to work with it?
Mitch Greene  13:47
So I do use the term mind chatter to replace other terms that people might say negative self talk or anxiety. So often, I'll say to an athlete, okay, I hear what you're worried about. So I have my own term for it, I will say to them, and I'm like, I call it I call it mind chatter. And I define it as when their minds get full of anyone's mind gets full of doubt, second guessing, and negative thinking. So mind chatter is the conversation we have with ourselves that can be full of doubt, second guessing and negative thinking. And one of the big, big, big take home messages of chatter and understanding it, which I want them to understand. Be it before we get to like what to do about it. It's, you know, the "knowledge is power" piece is really important in the way that I work. And I go, I explained to them that chatter ultimately shows up for two reasons, which is when there's a lot of uncertainty and when we feel like the stakes are really high. So in practice, you may not know exactly how you're going to play but you do also know that the stakes don't really matter. Generally speaking, don't matter so much. You know, you're running through drills, you're throwing and catching your with your friends, your with your teammates. Nobody's posting your scores, or your outcomes from practice, generally speaking, although there's exceptions to that. But boom, come Friday or Saturday. Today during game day, we have those two conditions where we don't know what's going to happen, obviously. And as we were talking about early earlier, for these athletes, it's not just about, you know, I hope it goes well, it's about everything that's on the line though, the weight on their shoulders, because about who will be disappointed who they will prove that their their worth to their whole reputation and identities on the line. And so their minds under those conditions get really chattery and noisy, and we go through a lot of explanations of of that I give them a lots of different examples. The strategy fundamentally that I that I, the way I approach it is, isn't an acceptance based type approach, which is that there aren't, there aren't good thoughts and bad thoughts. They're just thoughts that arise under when the mind thinks it's under threat. When it feels as though this you know, something dangerous is about to happen, the same way.
Bob Boland  15:53
Right, you kind of make that point right in your book that serves a purpose. There's a reason why we have these inner thoughts.
Mitch Greene  15:59
It's that it serves a purpose. The problem is it goes on overdrive, and it gets it gets completely exaggerated. And instead of thinking about how to make the you know, how to get a base hit, and what to focus on, when you're up at bat, it's already thinking about the basically the end of the game, and what your statistics gonna be, and who will be happy and who will be sad about it. So the the way I talked about it that seems to really stick with athletes is like that they show up to the game, and so does their mind chatter. They show up to the game with certain ideas and agendas and things that they know they need to be working on, as in an athlete's sense, and their mind chatter shows up with a wholly different agenda about everything else that could go wrong and and ad starts barking at them sometimes before the game even starts. At and we've I teach them how to make room for that shatter, if you will, how to how to instead of thinking that there's something wrong with them for having that. Oh, my God, what if I screw up thought we actually anticipated unexpected we go like I wonder what time that one's going to show up when in the dugout. Or maybe you think when you're stretching? Or do you think when you're you know, first getting up to bat, we plan actually as counterintuitive as it sounds. And it is we plan for the fact that shatter will start to wreak havoc, inevitably, so that we're not caught by surprise. And then I go through a series of steps, which are outlined in the book about how to make room and manage it.
Bob Boland  17:29
It's interesting, because when reading it it, it struck me because I think we all kind of understand that we have like an inner monologue, however you understand it, you sort of present it, though, is basically fear and anxiety based, that it's kind of like this protective thing going on. And I think even as a renown thing, like I always kind of assumed sometimes it's good, it's bad, you know, sometimes it's patting you on the back, sometimes it's not. Is it really always a negative? Of course, then my inner voice is gonna say like, how do you not know this?
Kerry Horrell  17:57
I just heard from Bob, Bob's not an anxious type as an anxious girlie myself, I'm like, yeah, it's mostly negative, especially under high pressure,
Bob Boland  18:06
You're like, "Come to think of it..."
Mitch Greene  18:09
My version of chatter is the negative voice is the one that's fearing judgment and doubt and expectations, it doesn't mean that we don't have other other thoughts that are encouraging thoughts. And hey, you could do it type thoughts. And everybody competes or performs in one way, whether you're doing a podcast performance, or there's a social performance, or an athletic performance is going to have a mind that's going to say, you know, get a little bit chattery are nervous. And for some people, it doesn't require special management, you know, it's sort of just they see it as sort of part of the people will come to me, it's, it's, there's the nerves, and then there's like, in my mind, this extra 20% That's chatter that's just the debilitating voice that, you know, won't give them a break. And from a psychology point of view, why I care so much about it as well, not just from their performance point of view, of course, I am trying to help them with their performances. But these are people who will feel great shame, oftentimes for for crimes that they haven't committed, you know that they are a wimp, a coward a loser, mentally, and tough. You know, the mentally weak is the word I'm looking for. And they're told all the time, you need to be mentally tough, you need to be confident, which which sort of means Yeah, you need to like be, you know, totally bulletproof. And great if you are getting you don't need me, but there's there's more out there than people realize, in this day and age, especially that aren't feeling so bulletproof.
Kerry Horrell  19:40
My like next line of thought that I was gonna ask you about was shame. So my, my area of clinical expertise, if you will, is shame and as you were talking about some of this. I was thinking about how, you know, one of the components of shame is just the experience that you're alone, that you're the only one who's struggling like this, and especially in and cultures or communities where there is sort of like a kind of hide this part or don't talk about it, that becomes even more prolific. And so as you were sharing about the sports culture, I was just thinking like, gosh, some of the shame must be so profound. And I that's why I'm especially appreciating some of your work and putting words to this, I imagine, implicitly, if not explicitly, you're also letting them know that they're not alone. There's a name for this, we know about this, you're not the first or last athlete to go through this. And I could imagine that being able to talk about that the common humanity piece of it would be so freeing in and of itself, in regard to the shame of this
Mitch Greene  20:40
110% Kerry that I think half the work is sometimes just them, sharing and feeling relieved that somebody gets it. You know, it's always very powerful when I could say something before they say it sort of idea, like I go, and this is what I often hear, and I'll maybe list a couple of chattering. They're like, Oh, my God, how did you know? You know, I go, I know. Because I, I've learned from the athletes with whom I work, you know, how, how loud that voice is. And I think the other interesting thing is that more athletes at the pro and Olympic level are sharing, now, more than ever, their vulnerabilities, their chatter, if you will. And I, I try to find every example I can and whether I post it, or I share it with an athlete and in session to go like, look at this Boston marathoner, who was the top American and ran this unbelievable time, and updates is their name. And who courageously in my mind shares that like before the race, she was like, what if I missed the bus? What if I'd miss don't pick up the right water bottle? What if I forget how to run? What if I, you know, all the kinds of stuff that my athletes who aren't at that level can can relate to? Because they thought like, oh, my gosh, she's freaking out about this sort of stuff. That okay, maybe, maybe it's sort of I can start to look at it a little bit differently and feel a little less shameful for, for feeling the way I do.
Kerry Horrell  21:59
It brings me back to even just like the key theme of your book in the title, which is courage over competence and how like, for me, I truly believe this with like, my whole heart and soul that like vulnerability is strength, not weakness, that actually being able to step into the these things and own them and talk about them like that is that takes such strength. And I feel like that is I could imagine again, I'm not as familiar with like the sports community. But I could imagine that's really challenging some of the past narratives, which is strength is stoicism and strength is holding it down. And it's like to shed new light on like, what a strength is, is owning that you have fear and doing it anyways, what if it's acknowledging that fear and moving forward?
Bob Boland  22:41
Do you think it's been helpful that one of the slides that like people have spoken or Simone Biles was probably the most, you know, you know, so the most newsworthy in the past? You know, few years, but you know, that is it helpful that people are coming out and speaking about that?
Mitch Greene  22:54
Absolutely. I can say without hesitation that my I think it's helped other like, you know, Simone Biles helped other Olympians you know, people at that level and help people with that, at the junior level, see that she might look perfect out there and and has been somewhat perfect in her performance but, but that she's human, and has she's been quite articulate and eloquent and has led you right has led the way. When I talk to the athletes, we try to see these chattery voices as we make room for them and et cetera. We sometimes by the way, thank them for sharing, like, appreciating like that they showed up to try to protect us, but we're you know, we're okay, who we try to see them as opportunities to be courageous. So instead of seeing those voices as what's wrong with me, we say, okay, and I'm not. And it's, by the way, that's where the courage overconfidence comes from, because I know in those moments, good luck trying to be confident, and I say to them, you don't need to be confident in my jobs to sort of help you better manage the doubts, which no one has yet maybe taught you how to do. And so that's our job there together. And one of the ways we talked about the doubts is to make is to see it as an opportunity to be courageous. You know, the people who climb Mount Everest aren't confident they're right, we would say they could get blown off the mountain. And just in about a minute's time, when we would say they have great courage, and then we have lots of conversations about what courage might mean to them. Yeah.
Bob Boland  24:16
How else could you say more about that? Actually, what does courage mean? The way you're using it?
Mitch Greene  24:20
Well, you know, courage, by definition shows up in the presence of doubt and fear. And so you can't be courageous unless you're experiencing doubt, and fear. And so I want them to know that instead of looking to be confident, which is what they often will do, they'll go cheese, I really don't feel like I did Tuesday and Wednesday, when I was really confident, instead of looking to be confident and looking for a feeling that's not around and trying to maybe fake it. If they can't fake it, you know, that's only going to make things worse, instead of trying to force their confidence as we talked about, it would take it takes a lot of courage to have those doubts. And then we might do some breathing breath work, we might I talked about how to make room for it, how to thank it for sharing, these would be the courage to have those thoughts and have those feelings and sort of let them be there. Right, you know, the old sort of adage of what you let be will let you be What you resist will persist. So I talked about it in those mindful type ways, and really the courage, guys, so just to hone in on the athlete population, the coverage is really about how to focus on their goals. And that's a big piece of the puzzle here, which is, when shatter gets a hold of you, you just hope to god you play well. And that's sometimes not enough when you're playing at a very high level, just hoping. So we go through a lot of work on goal setting and having the courage to stick to that goal, whatever our goals, whatever we come up with, despite that voice in their head barking at them, that if you make that mistake, you know, then you've blown the whole thing. It takes courage to go right back and try to shoot on the goal. If you're a lacrosse player, even though you're not confident. So we go through as many micro and macro examples of, of what courage could be we've tried to visualize it, we try to anticipate it and know that the doubts are going to show up, whether we like it or not. But we don't have to succumb to them.
Kerry Horrell  26:09
I'm thinking about how, like, I think that directors in movies and TV shows try to somewhat capture that experience where like, there's all the sound of the audience and there's like this chaos, and then all of a sudden, like, the lights go dim, and it gets quiet. And all you hear is like the athletes beating heart and everything like slows down as they like, make the shot. I feel like emotionally, like that's what you're trying to help them learn to do is like everything and just focus on speaking of TV shows and movies.
Bob Boland  26:38
How'd you get to that?  Well, I was thinking about for a long time I resisted Ted lasso, because I genuinely would like I'm not gonna watch a soccer show. Like, I don't have a ton of time to watch TV. And that doesn't sound like something I'd like. I do love Jason Sudeikis though, finally somebody won me over. Just watch it. I fell in love. amazing show. And I was thinking about how the show about soccer players footballers, if you will. And this coach? It is it's so relatable. Have I ever been a professional footballer? Absolutely not. But can I watch this and feel so relatable? And so I'm thinking about a like, well, first of all, do you love Ted last? So second of all, is there ways that some of this, you know, these ideas and your words for athletes, like does, you know, does it apply to the broader population?
Mitch Greene  27:27
Yeah, so I do love Ted Lasso, like what they haev don with the sports psych person. And I've had lots of friends come to me, obviously giving at the end clients, knowing what I do, saying how much they've enjoyed it. And in terms of how this applies to life? It's really a great question, because my book has only been out for maybe a month and a half. And I think most of the feedback I've gotten from people is Oh, my God, this applies to more than my my sport. And I've it's, you know, sports parents are reading this, you know, the athletes themselves coaches? And of course it does, I actually had to make a big decision in the writing of this book, I was approached about the idea of writing this more as it shatter, you know, for every one type of book, which of course, of course, it's for everyone. And I decided to go specifically for athletes, but I'm glad I'm glad you and others are sort of seeing that, yes. Whether you're, you know, a college student looking to make new friends, it takes more courage than confidence to walk across the room and say, introduce yourself. Because the stakes there feel very high, terrible embarrassment. You know, what if someone just sort of shuns you, shame could be part of that, as you said, depending on a person's past, current takes courage, overconfidence, as somebody and I were just recently talking about to go get help, right, you may not confident when I go seek out a mental health provider, let's say that this is going to go well that I won't feel worse about myself that right, it takes a lot of courage to make that call and to and to get into somebody's office and just didn't write in our daily lives. Sometimes it takes more courage than confidence to get out of bed and, and, you know, set our, our feet down and, and take a look at our day and all that we have to do. So I think about it, you know, only I teach what I know, you know, so I don't speak out of turn here. I'm not talking about something I don't understand myself. And I have these little wristband. Well, you can't see it, right. We're on audio, but people who don't there's wristbands that say courage over confidence, because I'll be honest, lots of the athletes will like to wear them or put them on their water balls for reminders, you know, like, right, right, right. Okay, right. Right. Right. You know, we all need the reminder sometimes about how to dig into courage and, you know, pay less attention to whether we're confident,
Bob Boland  29:42
I am curious, do people ever come to you and get an unintended outcome or decide that maybe just sports isn't the right thing that this is taking too much out of the person despite their talent?
Mitch Greene  29:52
Oh, yeah, that's a great question. I have a lot of people who will well, a fair amount of people will come over the years who think they want to quit Yeah, who think that their time is done? They were, let's say, a star in high school and decide, You know what? They hear that they could get recruited to college, but they're like, You know what? I think I'm done. But should I be done? You know, I've spent so much time energy and parents money doing this, is it? Is it? Do I really want to give it up or not in those types of conversations that some do? And some do, some do? And then some do and then get go back to it sometimes in college, and some give it up and find other ways to get an adrenaline rush still may be doing some athletic stuff, but not, obviously, with the stakes involved? And then I have a lot of athletes, that sort of related to the question, but you're making me think of it who struggle who suffer from injury and, and may not even have a choice? Oh, yeah, as to whether they can continue or not, we have a big, that's a big part of our practice here. People have suffered terrible concussions and are told you can't play anymore, or have terrible injuries and are out for a year. And then we have, you know, athletes who get injured and are out for a year and then reinjure, and then are out for another. Those are conversations that are obviously as much clinical as anything else about disappointment, and about who am I without my sport. And being alone, you talked about being alone earlier there, you know, you know, not being with your team as much not being on the team bus and being able to joke around about stuff because you either weren't there or you didn't participate. So I really think this work is as much clinical sports psychology as it is what people might kind of think of is all about sport and stuff. Yeah, there's some total sporty stuff, where we're talking about the game and the nuances of the game. And it helps to that I know a lot about sports. And it would help anybody in my position to know a decent amount about sports. But it's clinical work. As far as I'm concerned. I'm a clinician, I see myself as a therapist, who is a specialist in this area. Because if you know, it's just very much to me clinically oriented, because it is about who we are and who we think we are, and how do we manage the frustrations of life?
Kerry Horrell  31:59
your empathy and kindness towards this population is so obvious. And I think the athletes who work with you are very lucky that they have someone who's so knowledgeable about sports, but also can really help them see, I think, like, their strength and like, again, their courage to do these things and face this pressure. And so I'm, I'm very impressed and excited about your work, Dr. Greene.
Mitch Greene  32:23
Wow, it's very kind of you. Thank you.
Kerry Horrell  32:25
We do like to give our guests the last word. Any final thoughts as we wrap up for our listeners?
Mitch Greene  32:31
Well, I guess I'll do a bit of a shameless self plug about a way that if people are finding this sort of information, interesting, I tried my best to package like a kind of a stepwise approach in my new book that's available, you know, on Amazon, and such, to kind of walk an athlete or coach or sports parents through my process that I do with athletes here in my office, you know, how to expect the chatter to come, how to kind of make room for it, how to shift your attention and focus to goals. And then, you know, one of the last chapters is about, about what I really mean about courage, overconfidence, and then I try to give as many examples in the book, as well of, you know, they're obviously not exactly the athlete, and I don't give names, but they are the kinds of circumstances that I see all the time that I think quite might be relatable to, to a reader that hopefully they could find some nuggets in there that they can use in their endeavors.
Bob Boland  33:24
Yeah, I do recommend it and in sort of going on what you said before, but even though it's about sports, it really I think everyone would find it helpful both, you know, for treating patients in general because these are such you know, common issues. So thank you.
Kerry Horrell  33:36
And as a reminder, this is "Courage over Competence, Managing Mind Chatter and Winning the Mental Game" by Dr. Mitchell Greene.
Bob Boland  33:43
So you've been listening to the mind dive podcast and we're your hosts. I'm Bob Boland.
Kerry Horrell  33:48
I'm Kerry Horrell and thanks for diving in.  The Mind Dive Podcast is presented by the Menninger Clinic. If you're curious about the professional experiences of mental health clinicians, make sure to subscribe wherever you listen.
Bob Boland  34:01
For more episodes like this, visit
Kerry Horrell  34:06
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