The Topeka Capital-Journal – Nov 23, 2006 – Ernie Webb – Crazy, loon, crackpot, cuckoo, dingbat, kook, loco. Just a few of the words the misinformed might use to describe people undergoing counseling, especially if those people are athletes who seemingly have it all.
Theres definitely a stigma about counseling and what (psychologists) do, said Megan Brent, PhD., a sports psychologist at The University of Kansas. “But this field is a valuable resource for student-athletes. Youre going to see more schools hiring sports psychologists.
Kansas is one of just a handful of schools across the country with a full-time sports psychologist on staff. But if you think counseling is a service the student-athletes dont need or utilize, consider Brent’s schedule when contacted Tuesday.
It was a hectic day, she said. I met with seven clients today.
So why would a student-athlete need counseling? Is it that difficult having a scholarship and getting all that attention? You bet it is.
“People dont realize the pressure those kids are under, said Daniel Wann, a KU graduate and currently a professor and sports psychology expert at Murray State. Youve got to realize those are 18- and 19-year-old kids who have a lot of responsibilities. Its really pretty amazing what they go through.
Perhaps no student-athlete at Kansas faces more pressure than the mens basketball players. It doesnt get any more high-profile than playing before a full house every other night for five months, not to mention the glaring spotlight of the NCAA Tournament.
Using relaxation techniques is important. That helps a great deal, said Brent, a Rochester, N.Y., native who worked at Cincinnati before coming to Kansas, completed a pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral fellowship at Kansas State and graduated from Ohio State.
“The messages we send ourselves are powerful,Brent added. Imagery is a really good tool to use. Anything to try to get them imagining themselves performing at their best
Think that sounds a little, um, crazy? If that the case, count the players on most NBA teams, along with the likes of golfer Ernie Els, future Hall of Fame baseball player John Smoltz and Kansas City Royals 2006 first-round draft pick Luke Hochevar as insane in the brain.
You be surprised by the number of athletes we help, said Dr. John F. Murray, arguably the most famous sports psychologist in the world. What we try to help them do is just go out there and play and not think about the other things.
Ernie W. Webb III, who wrote this column partly to reference the early 1990s rap tune Insane in the Brain,by Cypress Hill.
Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.