Boston University sports psychologist, gave a lecture to student athletes and coaches in the Hackney Theater on Sept. 30, 2015.

students encouraged to shape their situation 

It’s no secret that one has to make mistakes to become better when it comes to a sport. Yet, for some, learning to understand and accept that concept came be challenging at times. Under the guidance of Dr. Adam Naylor, sport psychology coach, this was one of the topics discussed with our fall student-athletes, as well as students in grades six through 12. Naylor, a Boston University sport psychology coach, visited Norfolk Collegiate on Sept. 30 and spoke to students during a special assembly and spoke to parents later that evening.   

Naylor spoke to the students about the value of competition and emotional resilience during the assembly. Seated as teams, Naylor presented an interactive discussion with the students, asking three questions that focused on learning to shape their situation. They were:

  • Why would I rather not do X, Y, Z?
  • Is it really embarrassing, too?
  • What would you like to hear most from your teammates?

His point behind the questions was to address anxiety and resilience. “We lose our emotional resilience when we turn into teenagers,” he told students, “and start worrying about the outcome too much.”

"My favorite aspect of his talk was the point of view on younger children and siblings and how they play," said sophomore Brooke Walthall. "What was most interesting to me was his view on that when you are younger you play to play. You play to have fun and not to impress everyone. Most people these days play a high school or club sport to get noticed by local newspapers and colleges. With the goal of scholarships or commitments in mind people forget the real true value. In my aspect, that's what Dr. Naylor was really driving home for us. Along with the fact that people in sports and in daily life are too focused on impressing people and not embarrassing themselves."

Instead, he encouraged students to shape their situation and not let the situation shape them by challenging students to ask themselves if they were willing to make mistakes.

“You have to mess up a lot to get really good,” he said. Then, understand that “if I mess up, I’m probably learning. It’s easy to play a blowout because there is not emotional stress. Instead, ask yourself, which contests do you enjoy more? A close contest or a blowout?”

His point was that no matter what the level or skill, being a good athlete also is knowing when and how to engage your emotion.

“Errors are only bad when you think too much about it,” he said. “A mistake or a good opponent is positive if we think about it that way.”

He then asked students what they like to hear from their teammates. While the answers varied from “constructive criticism” to “absolutely nothing,” Naylor explained that emotions spread throughout the team.

“Your job is to spread emotional energy,” he said. “Ask yourself, ‘are you taking energy or giving energy to your team?’ Often in sports, we let the situation shape you. The art of being a good athlete is shaping the situation.”

"For me, I will take away that embarrassing yourself is okay, everyone does it, and it will make you a better person and athlete," said Brooke.

Read more about Naylor’s visit in the online student newspaper, the Oak Leaf.