May 31, 2014
Robert W.H. Price is a Sport Psychologist and Therapist with 15 years experience who specializes in counseling and sport psychology consulting. Robert has been hired to consult children, families, churches, corporations, professional athletes and several NFL/NBA teams. Robert’s goal with each and every one of his clients is to allow them to reach their potential both on and off the field. Robert believes that turning potential into reality is a lifelong pursuit and this is what he is passionate about.
Robert has received Master’s degrees from both University of Maryland in Kinesiology with a focus in Sport Psychology, and Johns Hopkins University with a degree in Clinical Community Counseling. He was a student-athlete at University of Pittsburgh and Hampton University, where he graduated with a degree in Psychology and Learning Behavior Disorders.
What are you Controlling…?
Often times people struggle with things that are outside of their ultimate control, but more often than not, we fail to realize this. This is a product of the human condition and what we have conditioned ourselves to do as a protective measure from disappointment or failure or rejection. Have you ever just felt that your life was running away from you despite your best efforts to hold on? This is the thing that I work on with my clients the most.
My goal is to get them to recognize that the one thing that they do have total control over is their thoughts.
This is a revelation within itself. Once this is understood, there are many things that we become aware of and our reactions to events change once we learn to create space between the stimulus and the response. Why is this the goal? Once we understand this, how can we use this to our advantage?
The how to…is where the struggle begins and where all the real progress happens. I am still there, even as a therapist and so are you. Let’s begin with the beginner’s mind. No matter your age, it is important to look at situations with fresh eyes and a childlike curiosity. The only way to make this happen is to sit with the situation for a moment – without the desire to solve the situation but with the intention on understanding alone. In the practice of vipassana we try to stay in the present moment. Everyone knows what the present means: now. But what, precisely, is a moment? And when does the present moment become the past? How long is the moment? Researchers and psychologists have determined that it is only 3 seconds!
In vipassana the word moment has two senses: the first is what we might call the practice-moment. Practice refers to meditation practice. The second is the moment of consciousness itself.
Let’s talk about the practice-moment first. In vipassana, a moment contains only one object of perception – one movement, sight, sound and so forth. It cannot contain both a sight and a sound; that would be two moments.
The length of the practice moment is determined by the object. A single practice-moment is about one to three seconds long. It means the length of time that a single object lasts as perceived by you, the observer. Or we could say it’s the length of time that you focus on an object before letting it go and moving on to the next one. It can vary somewhat, being longer or shorter depending on the form we’re observing.
As soon as we complete the step, that moment is over. It is now the past. If we are still thinking about it, that means we have let the mind stray away from the present. What is the present? It begins when the next object that arises that catches our attention.
Let’s put this into action! Are you capable to bring an awareness for 5-7 moments throughout your day? The benefits will vary from individual to individual, but one thing is for sure, you will begin to notice your awareness increase when these situations arise.
May 31, 2014
Lessons in Losing
By Karen Finucan Clarkson
“Losing triggers strong emotional reactions, namely disappointment and frustration,” but it also sets the stage for incredible gains, says David R. McDuff, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and owner of MD Sports Performance in Ellicott City. “Parents need to appreciate the importance, from a learning point of view, of losing. The biggest lessons often come from a loss or series of losses.”
“Losing builds character more than winning does,” says Robert Price, a sports psychology consultant and owner of Elite Minds in North Potomac. “Society, however, doesn’t value failure or really understand the role losing plays in a child’s growth and development.”
Life is full of competition, whether it’s Chutes and Ladders in preschool or lacrosse in college, and being able to handle and learn from a loss is essential to eventual success. What is key, according to Price, is teaching children to identify those aspects of the competition they cannot control-the roll of the dice or the call of a referee-and then focus on those things within their reach.
“Getting out of the trap of winning and results-oriented play, which often stifle improvement, allows a child to focus on how he practices and plays,” says McDuff. And it often increases a child’s enjoyment of the game. By “focusing on winning and results, there’s always pressure. A child may come to dislike practice and competition even though he may love the sport.”
The Concept of Losing
Preschool is an ideal time to expose children to the concept of losing. “When we play a game with our kids, it’s not to win or lose but to teach them something-to count, to read, to take turns,” says Price. There will, however, be a winner. If the focus is on the process-you tell your child that “he has three pieces he’s in charge of and needs to make decisions about”-then “letting him win is OK,” Price says, especially if the parent is a gracious loser, modeling effective ways to deal with disappointment. “Sometimes it’s okay to beat your kid so that he knows what losing feels like and experiences it in the comfort of his own home. Better there for the first time than in public.”
Learning From a Loss
It is not until middle school, when a child is around 12 years old, that he is developmentally capable of learning from and improving as the result of a loss, agree McDuff and Price. “Losing forces a child and parent at all levels of competition to examine what it takes to play well and ultimately be successful as an individual or a team,” says McDuff.
“As a parent, try to get your kid to focus on the process and set goals he can actually attain while out there performing,” says Price. “The goal isn’t winning but improving; it should be measurable, attainable and realistic.”
He offers the example of a center on a basketball team. “He can set some simple goals – eight rebounds, two blocked shots and 12 passes. …Accomplishing these goals will help him individually and his team.”
Goal setting also provides focus to the post-game conversation. Rather than sulking about losing, “he can talk about whether he was able to accomplish his goals-and if not, why,” says Price.
But hold off on that conversation for a bit, suggests McDuff. “Many children don’t like to talk much after a loss….But athletes, no matter what their age, appreciate a quiet hug or embrace from a parent.” The car ride home is a time for a child to decompress, not listen to a critical analysis of the game. “Wait. Be available. Your child will come to you after the emotions and disappointment subside a bit.”
Continuous Failure Can Be Demoralizing
While the occasional loss provides opportunities for improvement, continuous failure can be demoralizing. “These days there’s such early pressure to specialize in one sport and play at a high level,” says McDuff. “There’s a risk from pushing a child to too high a competitive level where they’re outmatched or get little or no playing time. I worry about burnout and the long-term effect on self-esteem.”
He tells the story of a high school senior preparing to play tennis in college. “I asked him what he was going to do over the summer. He said, ‘I guess I’ll play tennis, though I’d rather write and hang with my friends.’ I asked him to go back and look at videos and tell me when it was he lost his joy for playing.”
It was an eye opener, says McDuff. “‘At 10, 11, 12, 13, I was smiling when I competed,’ he told me. ‘But when I began travelling,’ he said, ‘I lost my smile.'”
Losing isn’t fun, and some children struggle with their emotions following a loss. A focus on process rather than results frees a child to be a good sport. “Good losers recognize that there are people or situations that are out of their control. They acknowledge that, and move on,” says Price. “By focusing on their goals-what they accomplished and what they could have done better-they often find it easier to congratulate someone on winning.”
The truth is, says Price, that society values winning. But, he notes, some of those winners credit losing with their success. “Michael Jordan has always talked about why it is important to fail, why he learned more through failing than winning.When he fell, he got back up. That’s a lesson any kid, even a 4-year-old, can understand.”
Jordan would concur. “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed,” the NBA All-Star has been quoted as saying.
Karen Finucan Clarkson is a Bethesda writer and the mother of three boys, ages 14-22.
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September 26, 2012
In our current economy, people in all employment fields are struggling to find viable work. This is not novel in the sports industry where people have a difficult time breaking into the field despite credentials and an unbelievable desire to good work for this population. I have enlisted the assistance of a colleague, Alvin N. Conteh (@sportsandscents) to share his story. Mr. Conteh has over 15 years experience in the sport marketing field and sports industry. He is currently finding difficulty in navigating the same paths that he once skillfully mastered. Alvin is currently the editor for HBCUSportsOnline.com an online website content management service and Black College Football Preview magazine. His most recent success has been expanding the distributorship from 10,000 to 100,000 copies in a myriad of new geographic areas. Alvin is currently looking for a new opportunity to use his talents in the sports marketing/management world.
In the work that I accomplish through Elite Minds (@eliteminds), I encourage people to find what they are passionate about and set goals to go after those passions. I have continued to support Alvin in fulfilling his passion which is to be a major contributor in the world of sports. What is found is a lot of reluctance from people in positions to assist, whether it is providing an internship, networking opportunity or simply providing names and numbers of people that may be beneficial to finding more about opportunities. Alvin provides some insight on his thoughts regarding where this reluctance comes from, “Some of your thoughts here brother…” One thing that we recognize is that working in this industry requires patience and recognizing blessings along the way. Often times taking steps back really do provide for greater future opportunities.
If working in the sport industry is your passion or you know how to connect people who are interested in finding opportunities please contact Robert W.H. Price, Owner of Elite Minds, LLC at www.elitemindsllc.com or follow him @eliteminds on Twitter.
May 3, 2012
Writing has a way of being therapeutic and offering solace to others who you just can’t always reach. In the wake of Junior Seau’s death I am compelled to pen this. As a therapist who works with athletes I am always reminded that they are people first and that is really what they do…they are people with human struggles! In church recently our pastor challenged us to really ask the right questions! Most time we ask people, “What do you do?” It seems so innocent but it feeds on our own insecurities about who we are and how we can but this new person in some type of box that our brain can process and handle. As the news will be reporting, Junior Seau had everything that the world thinks would bring you happiness. What people will eventually understand is that happiness is internal and breeds from within. Searching for it will leave you poor, desolate and angry! Truly in every situation there is inherent good. How long will it take for others to realize that they are searching for something that is already within them and not the amount of material things that one can amass? All of the sayings about the journey being the most rewarding are true. When I work with athletes about reaching and setting goals it truly is an exercise that provides checklist for the journey! We all need those checks or the lifelong journey can become a little disheartening along the way. If you look at Junior Seau’s life and where his treasure was stored up it was in trying to help kids to find their passion and fulfill their goals!
Robert Price is a licensed psychotherapist in the Washington DC Metro area and owns a company, Elite Minds, LLC that focuses on providing therapeutic support to children and their families in addition to specializing in mental skills coaching and being a sports psychology consultant to many athletes on all levels. He can be reached at http://www.elitemindsllc.com.
October 12, 2011
I have continued to support Alvin in fulfilling his passion which is to be a major contributor in the world of sports. What he’s found is a lot of reluctance from people in positions to assist, whether it is providing an internship, networking opportunity or simply providing names and numbers of people that may be beneficial to finding opportunities. Alvin provides some insight on some changes he had to make in his sports job search. Alvin stated, “The toughest part about getting a job in sports is finding opportunities! Many jobs that are posted have already been filled. Because of this I have learned to become much more proactive in my search. Throughout my journey to secure full-time employment I have been inspired to change my mindset and approach the job search using the three following strategies”:
1. FIGURE OUT EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT TO DO IN SPORTS
2. WORK YOUR CONTACTS
3. THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
Come along our journey with this blog series as we will detail each of those three strategies! The one thing that Alvin and I both recognize is that working in the sport management industry requires patience while also recognizing your blessings along the way. Often times taking steps back really does provide for greater future opportunities. If working in the sport industry is your passion or you know how to connect people who are interested in finding opportunities please contact Robert W.H. Price, Owner of Elite Minds, LLC at http://www.elitemindsllc.com or follow him @eliteminds on Twitter.
August 31, 2011
As an athlete your character is on display at all times in your sport. It is as simple as pointing to the sky or kneeling down to give homage to God. People are always assessing the player’s character and intent. In light of the recent violations in college football the players that are involved are having their character questioned. While we are told to not throw stones at a glass house we must remember what character really means… “the set of qualities that make somebody or something distinctive, especially somebody's qualities of mind and feeling…” Many of the players in question have never truly learned how to deal with people who seem to have their best interest in mind, but I wouldn’t expect them to. These are young adults who like all young adults make poor and impulsive decisions that simply serve themselves in the moment. Recognize the brain is still not fully developed at the age of 17-23 for males so inhibition is truly compromised. That is the science of it and that is what we forget to think about at times.
These players do serve as examples that others can learn from if they are in fact watching what is going on. In the work that Elite Minds (www.elitemindsllc.com) performs we work with not only the player but the family. This comprehensive approach allows for the player’s buy in and develops a support network that is effective. We use Dr. Jack Lesyk’s 9 Mental Skills of Successful Athletes to create unique profiles for the athlete and build around their strengths. By working with their strengths first we are able to improve the player’s underlying character issues that the athlete may be working through.
August 31, 2010
This is a re-post from the New Jersey Star Ledger. Story written by Jenny Vrentas. April 19, 2010.
Will Beatty remembers sitting at a desk last spring, with a pencil and hundreds of true/false questions to answer, trying not to get overwhelmed. Before the Giants selected the offensive tackle in the second round of last year’s Draft, he was a hopeful prospect navigating his way through tricky personality tests. “You’re reading a question,” Beatty recalled, “and you’re thinking, ‘I read this same question four minutes ago, and one word changed.’ ”As pro teams sort their draft boards each year, they factor in 40-yard dash times, injury histories — and these kinds of psychological evaluations.
From clinical interviews and personality tests, psychologists create for teams a profile of a prospect, and also grade the risk of drafting him. The aim is to bring in players who not just improve the team on the field, but who also fit in smoothly in the locker room. “The psychological and character piece is probably 10 percent of the whole process for a team,” said sports psychology consultant Robert Price, who conducted pre-draft evaluations for the Giants for a decade. “You don’t make it because you do well in an interview. But if you don’t have a good grade, you will drop off someone’s draft board pretty quickly.”
In the months leading up to the draft, teams screen as many players as possible at the NFL Combine, senior all-star games and pre-draft visits. Players are classified as one of 16 personality types through the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and scored on traits like dominance, independence and leadership via the California Psychological Inventory. In interviews, they’re asked simple questions like “Where did you grow up?” and tougher ones about family tragedies or legal trouble. Over the last three years, Price said players have also been asked about gun and animal ownership.
Each team has its own grading scale, but a common rubric is: A (no problems), B (moderate risk), D (major risk) and F (severe risk). There is no C, so that evaluators are forced to polarize players. “We have a profile that we like,” Giants general manager Jerry Reese said of how his team uses the evaluations. “You can never get all of the same guys. Everybody has different personalities, so it is hard to fit it. But we do look for certain qualities in players.” Teams may have different priorities as they compare players. One heavy on leaders may be looking for good followers, Price said. Or, a team with a poor track record at one position may look to bring in players at that position with different personality profiles than in the past, he explained.
And sometimes, a team is willing to take a chance on a guy who slipped down other teams’ boards due to character concerns — like the Giants did with running back Ahmad Bradshaw in 2007. With two arrests in college, he fell to the seventh round, where the Giants took a gamble that has, so far, been worth it. “With me, I just fed it straightforward,” Bradshaw said. “I think they could see which way my life was going. I told them I had kids; that I had to move forward in life. It was a good thing the Giants gave me this chance.”
Teams keep every psychological evaluation they run, compiling a sizeable archive that can come in handy a few years down the road, when the same players are available in free agency. After 10 years of helping to stock the Giants’ database — and also doing similar work for the Bears and Nets.
— Price focused on the other side this year. He worked with pro prospects at TEST Sports Club in Martinsville and Perfect Competition near Miami, preparing them for the questions teams ask and helping them communicate more clearly. On both sides, the stakes are high. “It is their largest and biggest job interview,” Price said.
Jenny Vrentas may be reached at email@example.com.
October 11, 2009
Ask an athlete what percentage of their athletic performance is mental. Then ask them what percentage of their time they dedicate to improving the mental component of their athletic life. For some, the discrepancy is huge and many athletes are neglecting the mental aspect of their sport. The work of a Sport Psychology Consultant (SPC) is helping to change this. Much of the work is based on the concept that being a well-rounded and successful athlete means being an athlete who is physically, mentally and emotionally strong. Many people are beginning to realize that successful, rewarding athletic performance is based on more than merely physical talent – that it is equally dependent upon mental strength. There are 9 core mental skills that all successful athletes possess.
Many people are still learning about the field of sport psychology. When athletes hear about SPC’s they often wonder “what do they actually do?” and “why would I need or want to work with one?”. To answer those questions it is important to clarify what sport psychology professionals are doing out there in the field. In a nutshell, SPC’s educate, counsel and support athletes in order to improve the athlete’s performance. Ultimately the SPC’s role is to assist an athlete in helping themselves become a better athlete. Sport Psychology involves extending theory and research into the field to educate coaches, athletes, and parents with the goals of facilitating optimal sport involvement and performance.
The work between the athlete and SPC is a combination of an educational component and a counseling component. Improving performance is a SPC’s number one goal. A SPC will assess an athlete’s current performance and evaluate goals and goal strategies to determine the best method for the athlete to improve their performance. The mental techniques that a SPC introduces include goal setting, motivation, confidence, relaxation, focus & concentration, team cohesion, and communication.
In order for any of the techniques that a SPC introduces to work, the SPC must really evaluate what is going on with the athlete emotionally and mentally to ensure the use of mental training techniques chosen will be effective. This is accomplished by completing an assessment at integral parts of the training process. SPC’s counsel athletes with regard to their personal and professional life and then use appropriate mental techniques to help an athlete enhance their performance. A SPC is trained to evaluate and understand what is going on in an athlete’s personal or professional life that may take away or add to their athletic performance. Having the expertise to identify what method or technique will best fit an athlete based on where they are at mentally and emotionally is the job of a trained Sport Psychology professional.
Many ask what type of athlete needs to work with a SPC. The simple answer to this question is any athlete who wishes to improve his or her performance and be more consistent in the process. Any athlete regardless of age, gender and skill level can benefit from working with a SPC. Some athletes assume that they have to be at an elite level to work with a SPC. This is entirely untrue. In fact, many recreational athletes who are making their sport an important part of their life are benefiting from working with a SPC.
The focus is on educating athletes to maximize their mental performance on the field of play, at work or school, and at home. It is our goal to help a player achieve their optimal play in tournaments and big games when they want it the most. To do this, ‘mental conditioning’ takes the same approach of ‘physical conditioning’. You would not expect to get stronger from lifting weights only one time! Many view mental training and simply think that it’s not for me, it is something I do once in a while, or I don’t know how to translate ideals into practice. This thinking should be obsolete and is typically the difference between a good athlete and a great athlete. The great athlete maximizes their ability by training and being prepared in all phases of their game.
If you are interested in completing the 9 Mental Skills for Successful Athletes Assessment and working with a qualified SPC you should contact Robert W.H. Price, owner of Elite Minds, LLC. Their most recent work has been with TEST Sports Clubs, Perfect Competition, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, New Jersey Nets, Performance Lacrosse, Montgomery County Department of Recreation, Contributing television guest on Capitol Golf Weekly, and Advanced Spine and Wellness Center.
Robert can be contacted at:
11908-C Darnestown Road
North Potomac, MD 20878
April 18, 2009
Kenny Perry is a seasoned PGA Tour player and has been in a lot of situations that could have prepared him for this moment, winning his first Major Tournament and being the oldest player to ever win the Master’s. The one thing that Kenny also acknowledged yesterday is that he was thinking about his past failures instead of his past practiced successes. In mental skills coaching it is often taught that you place positive mental images of success in your brain, actual pictures of you performing the task successfully. The power of this imagery is unique as the brain and body are able to mentally rehearse increasing the chances of you being successful.
As Kenny Perry reminded us it is extremely difficult to do that under pressure especially if it is not practiced. Not only does Kenny not exercise his body he also failed to exercise his mind for a potentially life changing moment that he let slip through his fingers. Stress tends to make us fall back into our weaknesses… thinking of past failures. Through mental skills coaching it is possible to quickly acknowledge those failures but to immediately begin thinking about the success you are going to have. Many athletes call this being present in the moment and it is possible to do in more consistently, but only if one makes a commitment to it. Kenny Perry showed us how important nurturing the mental skills of successful athletes can be. Do you know the Nine?
March 9, 2009
When we take a step back from the release of Terrell Owens by the Dallas Cowboys and his subsequent signing by the Buffalo Bills many people are confused how this guy could get a job. Many prognosticators thought that no team would take a “chance” on T.O. They obviously were incorrect. Any team that would sign him is not really taking a “chance” but a known entity. His history speaks for itself and they are prepared to deal with that or they would not have signed him. The chance that he does not repeat the same behavior on the field is the same chance that he does not repeat his history of stellar performance. T.O. is at the end of his great career which is not saying much in this era of great performances by players over the age of 35. Brett Farve had what he considered his best year two seasons ago and Kurt Warner has taken a historically futile franchise to the Super Bowl. A receiver of his talent will be productive in the AFC East next year. The questions still arise about his character.
Terrell Owens changes the psyche of a team and front office personnel. Whether his on the field behavior is detrimental to the development of a quarterback or his intense desire to win outweighs any thought of selfishness is still to be determined. He will not be the scapegoat this time around if Buffalo doesn’t make the playoffs or isn’t successful. The division is not unlike the one he just left with talented teams from the top to the bottom. Working with a teams’ mental preparation it is important to focus on what the goals are. There are team goals, offensive and defensive goals, and personal goals. These all have to align or a team will not be successful no matter how talented the teams’ individuals are. Can Buffalo align their goals with those of T.O.? This will be determined as the year progresses, but right now they are on the same page. They both think that T.O. can make any team ultimately better on the field.
Robert W.H. Price is the founder of Elite Minds a sport psychology consultant firm that assist teams, coaches, and individuals focus on the mental side of the game. For more information see http://www.eliteminds.net.