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Get Back to Your Game With Sports Psychology

Kamerin Hargrove
Howard Head Sports Medicine’s Sports Psychology team helps athletes optimize performance and return to sport after injury.

With the long winter coming to a close, people may be experiencing setbacks both physically and mentally. Howard Head Sports Medicine’s Sports Psychology team is here to address the psychological aspects of physical performance and to help enhance patients’ overall health and quality of life.  
"In sport and performance psychology, we are licensed psychologists, and then we have a specialization in the sport performance world," said Dr. Harlan Austin, HHSM's performance optimization psychologist. Austin’s work with patients “can span from clinical issues where someone is actually dealing with depression or anxiety disorder.” But when it comes to performance, “you can't separate out somebody's mental health from their behavior and their day-to-day life, so that would obviously impact any athlete or person's ability to perform at their best," he said.  

Sports psychology has a clinical component, and within the context of sports performance, injury recovery is a major focus. "People are coming back from an injury and returning to their sport, and that journey is one that can be frustrating — and it can sometimes take a long time," Dr. Austin said.

Sports Psychology and Injury Recovery

 Dr. Austin says that people may experience anxiety or fear even when they are physically cleared to return back to their sport. "HHSM looks at the mental side of how we build confidence," he said. "[We want to help] people be at their best in whatever their chosen performance realm is." 
Howard Head Performance Manager Ryan Owen, added that the weather also plays a huge role in mental health. "Now is the time to get outside and enjoy the vitamin D," he said. Sun exposure is the most important natural source of vitamin D, so getting outside for some exercise can have both physical and mental benefits. 
If you are coming back from an injury, Owen also suggests setting objectives. "Find two objectives — a 15-minute walk, eating a healthy breakfast or making your bed — to routinely complete on a daily basis," he said. "Once these objectives become a habit, aim to increase to four or six objectives."  

Owen said that the Howard Head Sports Psychology program can help our community of athletes by guiding them to reach an optimal mental state in their given sport and ultimately enable them to optimize their performance. 

"Everybody experiences setbacks, even professional athletes," he said. "Remember that a setback is nothing but a setup for a comeback, and Howard Head Performance can help you get back to a routine to chase down your fitness goals." 

Explore how sports psychology can help you recover from injury and optimize your performance.