It is needless to say that Tone House athletes are competitive. From Tone House’s Turf Wars, races, and even mud runs, our athletes seek out opportunities to perform and persevere.

For June 2022’s IG Live, The Breakdown, Coach Natalia speaks with Dr. Bhrett McCabe, Sports and Performance Psychologist for the University of Alabama Athletic Department.

Sports Psychologist Dr. Bhrett McCabe

He holds a Ph.D. degree in Clinical Psychology from Louisiana State University and combines his championship experience as an athlete – LSU alum w/ 2 NCAA  championships in Baseball — with his clinical training as a psychologist to help competitors break free from their patterns of struggle and create winning solutions on their playing fields.

He works regularly with coaches and athletes to overcome struggles of performance and managing the psychological burden of athletic injuries.

Parts of Dr. McCabe’s interview is found below:

The term ‘Athlete’s Mindset’ is used pretty frequently. How you define this phrase to your clients. Is there an “ideal” athlete’s mindset?

In whatever environment you’re in, it comes down to two major things.

We put them together as having a goal and a purpose while for being vulnerable enough to be able to accept whatever outcome may happen.

You know it’s easy to compete if you know you’re gonna win. But great athletes have to be vulnerable.

They have to understand that the good, the bad, and the ugly can happen. But they can still redirect their mind and find it deep inside to continue to work and overcome challenges to get to the end goal. And that is the ultimate competitive mindset, in my opinion which is dealing with the the struggles and dealing with the doubts and the insecurities, dealing with the challenge from competitors. Whether it’s a game that’s the competition or an opponent.

But then, understanding that, and throughout that entire process, you still knew what you did to overcome those to get the most out of who you are in those moments. I wish we could do a blood or some other test to figure out who embodies that. But we don’t know until you’re under those challenges who you are in those moments.

I think the athletes mindset is also a developmental process. I don’t think you’re born competitive. I don’t think you’re born a winner. I think you’re born with the skills to learn how to win in a variety of different circumstances. So if you understand what your mindset is in that heat of the moment, then you start becoming better at what you do, and that just grows and develops.

When it comes to mentally prepping for competition, what are the key elements you hone in on with your clients, specifically your top performing clients?

The one thing that I want people to do on a game day is to have a kind of a plan and a purpose of what they’re going to do. What are you gonna do when you get up, get moving, don’t lay around. Let’s get the body moving. We are very high powered engines. You got to get them cranking to get them working. Take a shower and get moving. And you might ask, “you’re going to shower before you work out?” Yes, because you have to do your normal routines. Get something to eat, you have to fuel the brain.

The other thing, too, is when you get to the gym allow yourself to expand out and then come back in. And then just a minute or two before you get in the competitive arena, ask yourself, “Am I worth the investment?” “Am I worth giving everything I have for for this?” Because the last thing I want you to think about is, “when I leave here, how am I going to feel?”, “am I going to feel exhausted but fulfilled, regardless of an outcome?” or “am I gonna feel exhausted and regretful. 

How are you seeing the conversations around mental health shift in the professional sports world?

In the last 7 to 8 years what we’ve seen is a tremendous awareness in the in the mental health space among athletes. I give an enormous amount of credit to The Players’ Tribune the online magazine who allowed the stories to be told in the player’s voice. And as a result, people have been sharing a lot with what we’ve gone through in the last 2 and a half years with COVID. It’s the greatest stress on record according to the American Psychological Association and in a 2 year period we’ve never seen like this, and impacted our ability to just cope. It impacted us in our ability to understand where the threat was coming from and how to cope with threat. We cope very well, by connection with humans.

So as a result, we have now led to a mental health crisis that we’re facing. I’m seeing rates of anxiety data suggests it’s four times that we’ve ever seen depression, we’re seeing people die of suicide at rates that are just completely unacceptable in today’s world.

Athletes are not immune to this. We must make mental health a priority in this country.

We must make priority a priority in our house. If you’re struggling for depression or anxiety or other psychological conditions or psychiatric conditions asking for help is a strike. There are things that we can do to help you. It’s an immersion. It’s an understanding. It’s about wisdom and it’s wisdom of self.

We have to get the voice out. We have to encourage people to get help. We have to encourage people to talk about. If we can do those things with a purpose. With the perfectionism, the standards, the demands that we have is just contributing and throwing gasoline on the slide.

You can view and listen to Dr. McCabes full interview here.

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