UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

The Five Spot

033110FiveSpot_EtnierDr. Jenny Etnier is an associate professor of kinesiology. Before coming to UNCG six years ago, she was an assistant professor at Arizona State and Wake Forest. She’s a soccer player, or at least she used to be. “This is the first year I’ve taken off,” she says. She will play in a Memorial Day tournament, but she likes spending more time with her three children these days. The oldest of them will start soccer next year. “I’ll get back into coaching,” as result, the former and future coach says. She leads sport psychology seminars. “I consult with educational groups – trying to educate coaches, parents and athletes about the mental skills to reach [the athlete’s] potential in sports.” The biggest mistake she sees? An incorrect emphasis on outcomes, such as wins and scores – and not enough emphasis on “the types of things that will get you there.” Her most recent book is “Bring Your ‘A’ Game.” It’s a young athlete’s guide to mental toughness, with tips for training your brain for success in sports. A blog, in which she offers some advice to parents and includes a recent interview on WFDD radio, among other things, is at http://bringyouragamebook.com/. With winter sports tournaments in final rounds and spring sports fully in gear, CW wanted to know some examples of mental toughness she has seen recently.

Five examples of mental toughness in sport

  1. Winning when you are expected to win: Michael Phelps Michael was expected to win eight gold medals in the Summer Olympics. What an incredible example of mental toughness to go into that situation and actually win eight gold medals! Winning when you are expected to win is no simple feat.
  2. Winning when you are expected to lose: The New Orleans Saints As you might recall, the New Orleans Saints were expected to lose the Super Bowl in 2010. They began the game down 0-10 and could have easily crumbled. But, from that point on they executed perfectly – including the very clever on-sides kick – and came back to win the game relatively easily.
  3. Rising to a challenge: Lance Armstrong Clearly, Lance is not afraid to fight. After surviving testicular cancer – his doctor though his chances of survival were less than 40 percent – Lance went on to become the only cyclist to win the Tour de France seven times. Lance then retired from cycling for 3.5 years, only to again rise to the challenge when he returned to cycling and placed third in the Tour de France at the age of 37.
  4. Refusing to lose: Serena Williams Serena is one of the ultimate competitors. As an example, we have only to think back to the Australian Open. Serena was down one set and four games to none in the semi-finals. At that point, she clearly began to focus on her game – chasing down balls, playing aggressively and refusing to lose. She came back to win the semi-finals and then won the championship in straight sets.
  5. Courage and perseverance: The 2010 Winter Olympians There were so many examples of courage and perseverance in this year’s Olympics. Two that stand out the most to me are Petra Majdic and Joannie Rochette. Petra Majdic competed in four cross-country sprinting heats and won a bronze medal on the same day when a fall during the warm up resulted in four broken ribs. Joannie Rochette competed in the figure skating short program only two days after her mother passed away unexpectedly and then went on to win a bronze medal in the final event. Congratulations to all of the 2010 Winter Olympians for their courage and perseverance!