Sport Performance

Feel Good About Your Sport Performance

Many great players have pursued honing a perfect technique in order to improve their consistency and improve results. Players like Tiger Woods and Serena Williams are perfectionists. They have learned how to get away with the “perfectionist mindset.”

Sport Psychologist Patrick Cohen noted perfectionists have an intense work ethic. They are driven. They have desire. They are motivated. Perfectionists have a great practice mentality. They are always on time. They have a love for practice. They are comfortable in their practice routine. They want to get better. And, they are coachable. In fact, coaches love them, because they hang on everything they say. Great things can happen with being a perfectionist.

However, the problems of perfectionism seem to emerge during competition. Suddenly, it begins to influence how an athlete plays and thinks. Why does this happen? “At its core are the setting of unrealistic goals, a self-focus on performance, and self-criticism over flaws and mistakes,” wrote Jeff Elison of Adams State College and Julie Partridge of Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The athlete tries too hard to be perfect. The perfectionist carries a high, often unrealistic expectation during competition. Outcome focus results rather than process focus. Suddenly, the athlete worries too much about what others think—coach, parents, friends, competition. Over thinking interferes with performance, a “paralysis of analysis” syndrome induces underperformance by over thinking. Confidence becomes fragile, and emotions oscillate. The athlete becomes easily upset. “Shame is one of the many emotions that can result from an athletic performance,” noted Elison and Partridge.

When perfection interferes with competition, the athlete needs to trust in his skills and be free to perform. As Bob Rotella said, “Train it and trust it.”

We need to understand the difference between skill and technique. Technique is an efficient way of performing a task. Skill is the ability to get a task completed, irrespective of style or technique. Skill is a feeling and more freedom focused; technique is rigid and compartmentalized.

Most athletes who strive to be perfectionist have some level of skill, but in their quest to improve their consistency, they over focus on technique and as a result their skill diminishes.

The desire to play perfectly, consistently, and mistake-free (like a machine) is an emotional one. Mistakes become painful.

Athletes, who attach their self-confidence to playing abilities, need to first trust in themselves, second trust in their skills, and third trust their technique.

So do we abandon technique and focus on skill? No way! Just as we want to improve skill, so we want to improve technique by focusing on improving technical competence while avoiding perfection. “Ultimately,” wrote Lynda Mainwaring, “a positive and perfect performance is about doing one’s best, feeling good about the performance, and feeling good about one’s self. This is about adaptive performance perfection, or mastery, not adaptive perfectionism.”


Dr. Kevin Goddu, Ph.D.
Head Golf Professional
Butter Brook Golf Club
Westford, MA




Is Success Based on Failure?

Is Success Based on Failure?

Is it OK to fail? Most people believe that failure is something to be embarrassed about, and even a subject that needs to be avoided, in order to show others only the “good side”. On contrary, my believes are

Trauma Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, as the name implies is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that addresses the specific emotional and mental health needs of children, adolescents, adult survivors, and families who are struggling to overcome the destructive effects of early trauma.

Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is especially sensitive to the unique problems of youth with post-traumatic stress and mood disorders resulting from abuse, violence, or grief. Because the client is usually a child, TF-CBT often brings non-offending parents or other caregivers into treatment and incorporates principles of family therapy.

When It’s Used

Anyone who has experienced a single or repeated experience of sexual, physical, or mental abuse or who has developed post-traumatic symptoms, depression, or anxiety as a result of the loss of a loved one or exposure to violence in the home or community can benefit from TF-CBT.

If a child or adolescent also exhibits serious behavioral, substance-abuse, or suicidal-ideation problems, other forms of treatment, such as dialectical behavior therapy, may be more appropriate as an initial intervention and can be followed up with a trauma-sensitive approach.

There is little evidence that trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy is the best intervention for adult war veterans with complex post-traumatic stress disorder.

What to Expect

TF-CBT is a short-term intervention that generally lasts anywhere from eight to 25 sessions and can take place in an outpatient mental health clinic, group home, community center, hospital, school, or in-home setting. Cognitive behavioral techniques are used to help modify distorted or unhelpful thinking and negative reactions and behaviors.

At the same time, a family therapy approach looks at interactions among family members and other family dynamics that are contributing to the problem and aims to teach new parenting, stress-management, and communication skills.

How It Works

The trauma-focused approach to psychotherapy was first developed in the 1990s by psychiatrist Judith Cohen and psychologists Esther Deblinger and Anthony Mannarino, whose original intent was to better serve children and adolescents who had experienced sexual abuse. TF-CBT has expanded over the years to include services for youths who have experienced any form of severe trauma or abuse.

Early trauma can lead to guilt, anger, feelings of powerlessness, self-abuse, acting out behavior, and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Post-traumatic stress disorder, which affects children and adults, can manifest in a number of ways.

Most likely as bothersome recurring thoughts about the traumatic experience, emotional numbness, sleep issues, concentration problems, and extreme physical and emotional responses to anything that triggers a memory of the trauma.

By integrating the theories and techniques of several therapeutic interventions, TF-CBT can address and improve the symptoms of post-traumatic stress in youth.

What to Look for in a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist

Look for a licensed mental health professional with specialized training and experience in cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy as well as further training and supervised experience in trauma-focused therapy. In addition to these credentials, it is important to find a therapist with whom you and your child feel comfortable working.


  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for children affected by sexual abuse or trauma. August 2012.
  • Gillies D, Taylor F, Gray C, O’Brien L, D’Abrew N. Psychological therapies for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents (review). Evidence-Based Child Health. May 2013;8(3):1004–1116.
  • Bisson JI, Roberts NP, Andrew M, Cooper R, Lewis C. Psychological therapies for chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2013;12.
  • Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy National Therapist Certification Program website.


Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Explained


Throughout your life you’ve had some and will continue to have some moments of tranquility. When all the basic stuff was coming along according to plan and you could think about the next steps on your path.


How Shame Affects Us?

A child is assaulted by a parent; the other parent looks away, dismisses, minimizes, or simply doesn’t see. What happens psychologically?


The assault needs to be addressed in the short term whether it is physical, psychological, or both. However, the way the event is witnessed by the other parent (or community, teacher, relative, etc.) will have a longer-term impact.

When this child becomes an adult, they may never seek help, never talk about being abused, or take any effort to heal their injury for one simple reason—they have internalized the viewpoint of the parent who witnessed the event and now they too dismiss, minimize, or deny its occurrence.

While the initial assault, like any wound, requires address and redress, the insufficient witnessing wraps the wound in shame, like a bacterial laden bandage, infecting the person’s beliefs, convincing them that their pain and suffering is a result of their own inadequacy.

As the child grows older they may experience a myriad of difficult feelings and patterns of behavior—hurt, fear, insecurity, self-hatred, boundary confusion, cyclic patterns of difficult relationships, substance abuse, and more, but they never get to the root of the problem, they never make a genuine and loving inquiry into the reasons for their suffering.

Instead, they ask “What’s wrong with me?” concluding that the feelings and patterns of behavior they suffer from exist because something is wrong with them not because something happened to them. This is the essence of shame. In a way, they “blame the victim”—themselves.

For example, they are likely to think they get hurt because of their weakness rather than because someone else bullied them. Also that they fail because they are stupid or undisciplined rather than because they have poor teachers or inadequate support.

Or that they are treated coldly because they are doing something wrong, rather than because their friends, partners, or parents are jealous, get into moods, or simply lack the capacity to care for another.

Here are a few examples showing how a person who has been shamed responds to difficulties as if something is wrong with them, instead of making a genuine, deeper, and more compassionate inquiry about themselves.

  • I remember a client who had a particularly cold father. Every time she got around him she felt like she needed to be extra nice to him, praise him, appreciate him, or somehow warm him up. When his coldness didn’t change, she concluded that she failed. It took some time for her to see her father clearly—a man with a coldness that ran through him for reasons entirely independent of her.


  • I remember another client whose husband was particularly frugal despite their relatively comfortable financial status. She would go out and buy shoes and then change the price tags when she brought them home so that he would not know how much they cost. Of course he would see the shoes and begin to inquire about her purchase. Afterwards she would always feel badly about herself, believing that she either had a spending problem or a dishonesty problem. However, the truth was that he had the spending problem and her dishonesty was simply a result of the fact that she was frightened about his reaction. Once she saw that clearly, she could be more understanding and compassionate about her circumstances, stop feeling ashamed when she purchased shoes, and learn ways to be more honest with her husband not only about her spending but also about her fear of his reactions.


  • Years ago I had a roommate who often watched television at night. When I would pull into the driveway I would see the bluish television light go out. By the time I entered the house, he would be sitting reading a book. Why was he hiding his television watching? It wasn’t just that he thought he should be doing other activities (more “worthy” activities), it is that he thought watching television represented some kind of moral deficiency of his. Because of his shame, it was very difficult for him to inquire about what drew him to watching television—was it a time of relaxation, was he wanting more “dream time,” was he always “on” and wanted to be “off.” As long as he tries to “fix” his deficiency rather than address his real need and reason for watching television, he is unlikely to make a change and is highly likely to feel worse about himself.


Shame has been called the “master emotion” because so much of our experience is filtered through this lens. In addition, it warps and confounds our understanding of ourselves and others in a way that makes sustainable resolutions extremely difficult if not impossible.