Mental Edge Perspectives
Olympian, sports psychologist talked about “finding the sweet spot” during campus visit
by Liz Irvin and Evelyn Mesler ’18
On Sunday, January 22, Andover hosted Amy Baltzell on campus for her presentation “The Sweet Spot and Beyond: The Role of Sport Psychology Mental Skills, Positivity, and Mindfulness for Optimal Performance.” Olympian, sports psychologist, and author of “Living in the Sweet Spot: Preparing for performance in Sport and Life,” Baltzell gave a talk summarizing essential components of sports psychology, with the aim of providing students and adults with practices that help forge a positive relationship with athletic and academic success. Throughout her presentation, Baltzell talked about finding the “sweet spot” between working hard towards achievement and maintaining day-to-day happiness.
As student rowers, we know a lot about tolerating momentary discomfort for the sake of long-term achievements. Since our freshman year, every time we push ourselves while rowing on the Merrimack or using the erg in the Smith Center, we take on a little bit of discomfort. In the same way that it is necessary to learn during difficult homework assignments, we know that pushing ourselves during rowing practice is the only way to achieve our goals.
Baltzell’s talk offered us a lot of advice for ways to hit our stride. She discussed visualizing past and future successes as a way to help performance and focus on our goals. To help athletes stay motivated during long practices leading up to race day, she told us to come up with a phrase: something we can call on when things get tough that allows us to see outside the current situation. Whether there are waves crashing over the side of the boat, the opposing boat is still four seats up on us with 500M to go, or we are taking a look at our Thursday night homework load, coming up with a phrase that is inspiring, motivating, and empowering can make a huge difference. Sometimes the phrases are funny or strange or just one word; but it doesn’t matter, because it’s all about what works for you. The two of us are sure to pass on these tips to our teammates as we get ready for our upcoming season. Until spring, we’ll be replaying our past successes, visualizing goal times, and preparing for tough-won races.