Sport Psychology

NEFC Is thrilled to provided resources from both internal and external resources. Gee O'malley will lead our intern Sport Psychology initiative &  Megan Willette, LMHC and Mental Agility Consulting has provided numerous mental health awareness resources for our membership. 

Stay tuned and be on the lookout for our Sport Psychology Newsletter and much more

Sports Psychology Newsletter


By Jason | September 13, 2023

We’re often told in school and at sports clubs to think about what it is we would like to achieve, and then to set ourselves ‘goals’… But what is goal setting and what kind of goals should we be thinking about? Goal setting is identifying something we want to accomplish and developing a plan that’s…

What is Sport Psychology?

  • Providing performers, the resources and knowledge to reach their full potential by strengthening their mental skills.
  • Common reasons people reach out: They want to perform their best, feeling immense pressure, struggling with mental health, difficult team or coach dynamics, leadership training, support/consultation, using unhelpful self-talk

Where Do I start?

  • One option is to begin working with a sport performance coach. The other is to take the Athlete Coping Skills Inventory (ACSI). This will give you a baseline of your mental skills, to further assess if you’d like performance coaching.

How can I find a Sport Performance Coach?

  • Boston Sport and Performance Psychology, ICCD Sport Psychology Services, MindFlow Performance, Amplify Wellness & Performance

The three types of Sport Psychology:

  1. Purely Performance counseling
  2. Purely clinical counseling
  3. Hybrid, a clinician that can do both: clinical & performance




  1. Barriers to accessing care
  2. Busy Schedules
  3. Challenging Situations
  4. Childhood Abuse
  5. Drugs & Alcohol
  6. Environment
  7. Genetics
  8. Pressure to Succeed
  9. Relationship Difficulties
  10. Social Media
  11. Stigma against help-seeking

These factors of often written off as ordinary adolescent development; Whether that’s true or not, the impact on their mental health and the suicide rates prove they need these factors need to be taken seriously More risk factors = greater impact on their mental health

How To Help

  1. Be a positive role model: practice good decision making, healthy habits, good communication, and self-compassion
  2. Check in using open ended questions
  3. Don’t try to do it alone, bring in other adults in their life to help support them, seek therapy, let them know you’re concerned from a place love
  4. Encourage them to talk to themselves like they would a friend; help reframe negative thoughts
  5. Have the difficult conversations
  6. Provide holistic care AND a macro perspective
  7. Observe any pattern changes in mood, interests, self-care, etc.


  • 1 in 7 (14%) 10-19 year-olds experience mental health struggles
  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-19 year-olds
  • 1 in 5 question their sexuality & 1 in 10 teens question their gender identity
  • Anxiety and Depression have increased by more than 70% in the past 10 years
  • In 2019, 9% of high school students attempted suicide, and 19% of high school students considered it.

How athletes can help themselves:

  1. Acknowledge and manage emotions
  2. Fuel body nutritionally
  3. Healthy Sleep Patterns
  4. Identify and Utilize Coping Skills
  5. Learn problem-solving skills
  6. Practice interpersonal (social) skills
  7. Put yourself in protective & supportive environments
  8. Regular Exercise


  • Counseling and crisis intervention Services: Northborough, MA (800)640-5432
  • How to find an outpatient therapist:
    • Go to; Enter filters: zip code, insurance, etc.
      • Contact at least 5 clinicians, and get on waiting lists
  • Massachusetts Emergency Services Program: (877)-382-1609
  • Every Emergency Room has a mental health clinician on staff that you can speak to

Findings from a meta-analysis on Global Prevalence of Depressive and Anxiety Symptoms in Children and Adolescents During COVID-19 to pre-pandemic estimates suggest that youth mental health difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic has likely doubled.

  • 1 in 4 youth globally are experiencing clinically elevated depression symptoms
  • 1 in 5 youth are experiencing clinically elevated anxiety symptoms
  • (Nicole Racine, PhD, RPsych1,2; Brae Anne McArthur, PhD, RPsych1,2; Jessica E. Cooke, MSc1,2; et al)

Feelings are temporary; the unpleasant ones can be our best teachers by helping us grow confidence and emotional strength.

“Never make permanent decisions based on temporary feelings”

Feelings are visitors, let them come and go, if any get stuck, talk, or work through it

Stay present & mindful let the feeling run its course…remember that you are not what you do or how you perform.

Self-Esteem: Practice talking to yourself like you would a friend.


  • Feels included bc 97% of teens use a social media platform
  • 45% are online almost constantly
  • Provides valuable support
    • Especially those who experience exclusion, and those with disabilities, and chronic illnesses
  • Platform for self-expression
  • Exposure to current events & learn about a variety of subjects, including healthy behaviors
  • Ability to break geographic barriers
  • Humorous/distracting way to connect with peers
  • Wide social network could help teens avoid depression


  • Distract teens from their priorities
  • Disrupts sleep
  • Exposes them to bullying, & rumor spreading
  • Sets unrealistic views of other people's lives
  • Peer pressure
  • The more teens use it, the stronger they believe that others are happier than them
  • Using it for social comparison or seeking feedback, is linked highly with depression
  • Developmentally teens are impulsive, which can lead to intimate/personal posts, resulting in bullying, harassment, or blackmailed

What adults can do:

Mayo Clinic:

  • Limit social media use to less than 3 hours per day and less than 3 uses per day
  • Set reasonable limits: avoid it interfering with activities, sleep, meals or homework.
  • Monitor your teen’s accounts; and let them know you will be checking it
  • Explain what is not okay: no gossiping, spreading rumors, bullying, or damaging someone's reputation, etc.
  • Encourage face-to-face contact with friends
  • Talk about social media and remind them it is full of unrealistic images
  • Remember that what keeps us from feeling like we deserve love and belonging, is believing that we do.
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