Adaptable – the ability to adjust to new conditions.

Adaptability is a pre-requisite for being a successful student-athlete.  Though many of us possess the capability to transition well in new circumstances, there are those times when we all might struggle.  As the new school year approaches, we will be faced with new conditions that we must adapt to.  Incoming freshmen may need to adapt from being away from home and adjust to a newer, more demanding schedule.  Upperclassmen may face harder upper-level classes and increased roles on the team to be particularly challenging.  Thus, it is critical we take a moment to assess our own levels of adaptability and implement strategies to enhance our abilities to conquer these new and more demanding situations.

Strategy 1: Choose to be a fighter.

Fighters are devoted to making adjustments, not excuses. Fighters are accountable and believe they can be successful.  They choose to get better every day and look for reasons to be positive.  Victims, on the other hand, make excuses, blame others, complain, and avoid difficult situations. Look at your current situation.  Are you being a victim or a fighter??  The choice is yours!

Strategy 2: Create a plan of attack

Sometimes when we are faced with new, demanding conditions we become overwhelmed and can’t think straight.  As a result, we need a quick, go-to strategy for getting our minds in the right state to deal with whatever challenging situation we’re in.  This plan of attack involves the following three steps:

1) What? – Identify what exactly is the new, challenging situation.

2) So what? – Identify that which you actually have control over and that which you do not.

3) Now what? – Identify the best plan of attack based on what is going on and what you are actually able to do about it.

Strategy 3: Be creative

Adjusting to new conditions involves thinking on your feet and identifying new ways of doing things.  By thinking outside of the box you can come up with a variety of solutions and skills that can turn stress into strength.  Practice being in challenging or unique situations and experiment with creative strategies.  Incorporate these strategies into your tool box




Athletes are no strangers to goal setting, whether learning a new skill, winning a competition, or achieving a personal record, athletes are built to strive. As a new school year approaches and your athletic training hits the reset button, I wanted to offer a unique goal-setting process that can help harness your focus in your pursuit of goals both large and small.

This goal setting journey requires answering four questions.

1) What is your IT? Not surprisingly, the IT is the goal that you desire. ITs are unique to each individual. It can be a personal, athletic, academic, social, ANYTHING. We may have multiple ITs but we have to keep in mind that is difficult to give 100% to every IT, and that the more ITs we have, the more our energy gets spread out and drained.

Example: “I want to pass my fitness test.”

2) Why do you want IT? In order to get where you want to go you need emotional fuel. Connecting with the WHY taps into your inner motivational resources. By connecting with your motivation, you are frequently fueled to continue pursuing your IT. When you become tired, stressed, or frustrated during your pursuit of a goal, remind yourself of the WHY to re-energize and continue your relentless journey.

Example: “I want to pass my fitness test because I know I can push my body to do it and I know it’s critical to my role on the team.”

3) Who do you need to be to accomplish IT? Here it is important to identify the values, strengths, skills, knowledge-bases, resources, etc. needed to accomplish the goal. Do you need to build stamina, work on becoming more patient, or develop an expertise in finance? Whatever your IT is, you need to decide on, and then become, the type of person you need to be to achieve it.

Example: “I need to become mentally tough to run through discomfort and fatigue. I also need to manage my time well to fit in workouts.”

4) How will you achieve IT? Finally, you have to identify the steps required to make IT happen. Here is when your mini-S.M.A.R.T. goals come into play. By identifying the baby-steps required to achieve your larger IT, you create a road map or blueprint to follow. Of course, the implementation is the hardest part, but the more detailed your steps are, the easier the plan is to follow.

Example: “In order to pass my fitness test I need to a) build stamina by attending workouts, b) progressively increase my workout load each week, c) treat my body well (nutrition, stretching, sleep, substances), d) practice positive self-talk and deep breathing.“

Obviously, the above example is a simplified version of the simplified process. In addition, the larger the goal, the more involved this process will be. But, by deliberately answering these questions you will be able to focus your mental, physical, and emotional energies to increase the likelihood of pursuing and achieving your goals. Make IT happen!



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).

Welcome to OSU Sport Psychology!


Hello and welcome to the Official OSU Sport Psychology Blog Page!

Housed in Ohio State University Sport’s Medicine, the Sport Psychology Team gives athletes the tools to maintain good mental health, manage stress effectively and build quality relationships, which can help improve their performance and their lives on and off the field.

At this site you will find a weekly blog that will provide information and practical tips on enhancing one’s mental game, as well as address common clinical concerns that may impact college student-athletes.

Check back each Monday for your Mental Minute of the Week!