Power Pose to Victory

Recently a college athlete asked me to comment on her Swimming World article covering an intriguing TED talk about body language.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy asks if changing your body language can affect how you feel inside. Do you think that’s possible? Dr. Cuddy’s research indicates it is!

She has found that holding “power poses” like the one below for two minutes significantly increases testosterone (thereby increasing feelings of power) and significantly decreases cortisol (thereby decreasing feelings of stress).


I encourage you to check out this fascinating TED talk. Holding power poses can help you perform at your best in school, sport, and life!

Taking Care of Ourselves After Tragedy

The OSU athletic family lost one of its own when wrestler and football player Kosta Karageorge died. I did not have the pleasure of knowing Kosta, but I hear he was quite popular among his teammates. The fact that he joined the football team after finishing his wrestling eligibility shows what a competitor he was.

Many of us are in shock. We may not know how to feel or what to do. In light of this distress, I want to share some information and resources with you.

While there is no correct way to respond, here are some common emotional reactions to grief and trauma:

Shock/denial/numbness/a sense of unreality

Anxiety and fear, which may relate to insomnia and feeling on edge

Second guessing ourselves (“If only I’d…”)

Sadness and loss



Questions about why this happened

While we don’t have the official cause of death, preliminary reports indicate that Kosta committed suicide. It’s difficult to understand suicide. Sometimes individuals experience such deep depression that they feel hopeless about things ever improving. It’s tragic they don’t realize that feelings are temporary, and that their depression will lift over time.

Student-athletes are at a greater risk for suicide due to a culture that celebrates toughness and denigrates vulnerability. Athletes have to be warriors in their sport, but it’s important to be real when you walk off the field. It’s okay to feel the gamut of emotions. It’s fine to cry. It’s also fine not to cry. Accept your feelings and understand that each person has a unique way of grieving. There is no “right” way to grieve.

If you are distressed or having suicidal thoughts or urges, please tell someone (parent, sibling, teammate, coach, athletic trainer, physician, psychologist, strength coach, faculty, dietitian, etc.) Telling someone is the first step to feeling better.

 How do we take care of ourselves in times like this?

 * Practice deep, belly breaths to decrease stress and help sleep

* Engage in your routine of class and practice if it feels helpful, or ask your coach about taking a break if you need rest. Exercise can be an effective coping strategy if you feel up for practice.

* Seek support from your team and family. It’s not morbid to talk about Kosta—those who were closer to him may wish to share stories about him. Try not to be alone for extended time periods these first few days.

* Try to get regular sleep and nutrition

* Talk to a counselor or spiritual advisor


Jen Carter, PhD and Steve Graef PhD, Sport Psychology 614-293-3600 (Your athletic trainer has our cell phone and direct office numbers)

Student Life Counseling & Consultation Service, 4th Floor Younkin, 614-292-5766 (CCS has “urgent” appointments available and students directly impacted by this tragedy will be prioritized for services)

CCS Self-Help for Grief

NCAA Videos


Welcome to OSU Sport Psychology

Welcome to Sport Psychology at Ohio State University Sports Medicine Center!

We will share tips and tools to help you reach your best performance in multiple domains.

Five Tips to Fight Insomnia


Do You Have Insomnia?

With the crazy schedules we maintain, we might assume that our exhaustion leads to sound sleep. However, insomnia plagues many of us. Individuals who attend counseling at OSU Sports Medicine report sleep problems as one of their highest concerns. Insomnia is one symptom of depression and anxiety.

Are we helpless in reducing insomnia? Absolutely not! There are many effective strategies for improving quality of sleep.

Five Tips to Catch Some ZZZs

1. Establish a Bedtime Routine While it is difficult to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day, experts recommend this routine to help sleep. If you have insomnia, try to keep your wake-up time constant but go to bed one hour later for a few nights. Some people enjoy a nighttime routine that includes a warm shower, a hot non-caffeinated beverage, reading, or writing in a journal. Avoid watching TV or using electronics right before bed, because blue light suppresses melatonin.

2. Chill Out  Insomnia is so frustrating. And, tensing up or trying to force sleep makes it more difficult. Use diaphragmatic breathing and muscle relaxation techniques to unwind after a long day. Sport psychologists can make a relaxation audio file for you. Trust your body to slip into sleep when you’re ready.

3. Think Accurately about Sleep There are myths that interfere with sleep, like, “I have to get 8 hours or tomorrow will be ruined!” Realistically, many people function quite well on less sleep. Our bodies will eventually catch up on sleep if we don’t worry about it too much. Look at insomnia as a gift, allowing you to get things done or attend to a pressing issue. Keep a notepad or journal near the bed to write down worries to be addressed while awake.

4. Interfere with ruminations  Do you have worrisome thoughts playing in a loop in your mind? Dr. Marsha Linehan advises interfering with those ruminations by counting 1-10 ten times. The first time through, pause after one. The second time through, pause after two, and so on. This technique makes it impossible to worry by occupying your mind. Another tip is to splash cold water on your face. Or, label your worry as solvable or insolvable. If insolvable, go deep into the worst thing that could happen and imagine coping with it.

4. Other Sound Strategies Get more balanced exercise. Limit caffeine later in the day. Keep your bedroom cold, dark, and quiet to enhance some good zzzzs. And, avoid using alcohol to fall asleep (alcohol actually interferes with REM sleep).