Sports psychologist gives advice to Wartburg athletes

Sports psychologist Mick Mack speaks to Wartburg athletes at the Lyceum Wednesday. —Emily Novotny/TRUMPET

“Think of the number six for 10 seconds.  Now think of a vegetable.  How many people thought of a carrot?,” said sports psychologist Mick Mack as nearly everyone in the almost-capacity Lyceum raised their hand.

“This is your neuropath ways predicting what will happen,” Mack said. “Games are 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical.”

Mick Mack is a sports psychologist who spoke to Wartburg athletes about mental preparation and confidence.  He said thoughts are important during a game.  His message was not just for how to improve in sports though.

“Everything you’re doing in sports carries over to the real world.  If not, then quit today.  There’s a reason you’re in sports,” Mack said.

An average person has 66,000 thoughts a day.  Three out of four of those thoughts are negative, Mack said.  This means athletes need to prepare to think positive thoughts.

Mack said the number one most important thing for being mentally prepared is to have confidence, “It directly affects the energy you put forth.”

He explained confidence is created from mental preparation.  Athletes should say to themselves, “I’ve done everything possible.  I deserve to win.”

He said to keep it simple and only think of one thing at a time, and when struggling, just think of that one thing.  Before competition, recall positive experiences to build up high energy, Mack said.

During practice, rehearse going through adversity, he said. This will help prepare athletes to react to challenges in games.

“If you just got killed in practice, it’s a great time to compete like it’s the last seconds of the match. Look at adversity in a proactive way. There’s positives there.”

He said to be sure to spend enough time on recovery. Mack reminded athletes to take everything one day at a time, and to remember to stay upbeat for the whole season.

“You have to know what to think when you screw up. If you don’t, you’ll just think about screwing up again,” he said.

He said to not stay focused the entire practice, but instead take mental breaks. When on the sideline getting a drink athletes are to relax, then “get back out and get going again.”

All of his advice added up to one simple formula for success, effort times ability times luck.

“Don’t screw it up or think there’s more to it.  It’s all it is.”

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