athlete

Sports Psychology and Athletic Counseling

Are you an athlete in Chicago looking for a sports psychology and counseling professional? Seeking guidance on how to enhance your confidence while upping your game?

If so, you’ve come to the right place. That’s because this page is all about sports, therapy, and you. Now before we dive too deep, you’re probably wondering who I am?

Shoot, I’d want to know.

I’ll keep it brief and simply say I am licensed mental health counselor and board-certified hypnotherapist. Apart from my work in the counseling and coaching world, I also teach college courses in sports and health sciences.

But enough about me because this page is about you. If you want to learn more about my background, I encourage you to click on this bio link.

Sports, Psychology and Peak Performance

When you look at the most successful athletes, regardless of sport, have you ever noticed they have a high degree of confidence?

Moreover, doesn’t it seem like they are masters at what they do, executing amazing plays, with seemingly little effort? When watching them, does it almost seem like they were born with a gift?

Here’s the real deal. There are some sports players who truly are gifted. For whatever reason, the universe has bestowed on them an uncanny ability to throw, run, jump and score.

But for the vast majority of athletes, their unique abilities have nothing to do with “gifts”. Instead, it’s all about possessing a strong inner core that is filled with confidence.

So, how did they develop this core? Did it just happen naturally for them? The answer, at least in my experience, is probably not. At some point, they made the conscious choice to reprogram their thoughts in ways that encouraged excellence.

This means they learn from their mistakes, avoid negative self-talk and recognize when they are engaging in self-limiting behaviors.

It also means they live happier lives, which goes beyond sports. Here, I’m talking about personal relationships, like with family or friends.

Are these things you would like for yourself? If the answer is yes, then you may want to consider sports counseling.

So what is sports counseling exactly?

As suggested by the terminology, sports counseling is a type of counseling that is primarily aimed at athletes and sports players used primarily to boost athletic performance. Through the use of imagery, voice, and goal setting, a therapist first works to help you find a relaxed state of being.

Once achieved, the focus is on providing performance-boosting thought and encouragement through coaching and therapy. The type of sport involved really doesn’t matter because at the end of the day, the goal is always the same – to play better and achieve optimal results. 

That said, we typically see sports counseling used to help: 

  • Baseball players
  • Football players
  • Hockey players
  • Basketball players
  • Bodybuilders 
  • Golf enthusiasts 
  • Rowers
  • Swimmers
  • Skiers 

There are three different principles or disciplines of sports counseling that I focus on here at Guy Counseling in Chicago:

1. Positive Expectation and Self-Image

Even though you may not realize it consciously, your own self-doubt and negative self-image can get in the way of you achieving to your highest capabilities, whether it is during competition or through training. If you expect that you will perform poorly, there is no way that you can do your best.

This is because your physical motivation to perform is easily clouded by what your expectations of your performance will be. By combining mindful approaches to wellness as part of counseling, such as acceptance and commitment therapy, I may be able to work with you to clear your mind of the doubts that cloud your focus and stamina.

This can be incredibly beneficial before a big game or if you are in the process of training for a big event.

sports psychology counseling athletes chicago

2. Building Mind and Body Connection Bridge

Even though through history there has been a tendency to treat the mind and body separately, the two are intertwined with each other within your body.

Your physical health often depends on your emotional and vice versa, because the mind and body are in constant communication with neural signals that travel to and from in your nervous system.

Through the use of mindful approaches to wellness, such as CBT at my office, I work to encourage the appropriate signals between mind and body and teach you new techniques that can be used when you are in the middle of sports performance.

For example, we can help you learn how to achieve a more relaxed mental state through sports hypnosis, which may allow you to be more relaxed and focused when taking a swing or making a shot. 

sports psychology counseling chicago

3. Encouraging Visualization for Peak Athletic Performance

Consider this: If you can visualize something happening, such as running faster or seeing your golf game become more accurate, you have a better chance of seeing these things happen.

Most people have no idea that the mind cannot discern something that is happening physically from what is being envisioned instead. The same thought processes occur and your muscles may even react accordingly.

This is why mental visualization and rehearsal works so well with cognitive approaches for sports players. By helping you visualize specific actions in your mind, with clarity of thought and the relaxation that comes along with it, you help to create a new future yourself. 

In other words, the movie you create through mental training can transform into reality. 

Where did mindfulness for athletic performance come from?

Meditative approaches to peak performance, including cognitive therapies and guided imagery, have been used with some of the world’s most famous athletes. Many have turned to these techniques as a way of increasing their skill and abilities. 

And these approaches aren’t new. In some form or another, they’ve been around since mankind started recording athletic competitions, which historians think happened around 760 BC

Sports psychology, however (at least in it’s official form) is somewhat new. It’s been around since the 1920s, and involved attention to how psychological factors inter-played with sports performance for athletics. Since that time, the field of sports psychology has grown tremendously. 

In fact, you can even take college courses in this topic and earn a degree in the field. But I digress. 

Can Mindful Observation Help with Sports Performance?

Some of the biggest names in team sports have professionals trained in psychology on the payroll. They are present for games both home and away. And their purpose? To encourage, motivate, and help players do their very best on the field.

In many cases, they use some of the same approaches and techniques discussed here. And so, the question you have to ask yourself is this: If professional athletes are benefiting from sports psychology, can I enjoy the same?

Obviously, there are no guarantees but I can tell you that for many people, the answer to that question is … yes.  

The unconscious mind is directly involved in your athletic abilities, even though you may not know to what extent. Here at Guy Counseling, I want to help you achieve a well-balanced physical and emotional state so you can obtain peak performance you so badly desire.

As a college educator who has instructed courses in Exercise Physiology, Strength Training and Sports Psychology to military students for over 15 years, I have helped scores of athletes reach important goals.  If possible, I’d like to do the same for you. 

Because many of my clients have busy schedules, I try to make myself available in different ways, including face to face meetings, telephone or via Skype.

If you would like to learn more about sports psychology and counseling for athletic performance, feel free to contact me directly at 773.704.5300. You can also send me a confidential note via this online contact form

Contact Guy Counseling