CBT SoCal’s Dr. Jason von Stietz is nearing his second year as the team sport psychology consultant to the Salsa Soccer Club, a Women’s Premiere Soccer League team. Dr. von Stietz helped the team kick off the New Year by participating in the team retreat near Lake Elsinore at the home of Dr. Ja’nae Brown, a physical therapist and the team doc. During the weekend retreat, the team spent their time relaxing, walking along the lake, working out, and learning more about the resources available to the team such as sport psychology services.
Dr. von Stietz helped to start the retreat by leading the team in a discussion about the differences between their best performances and their worst performances. The players noticed that they performed their best when they were focused on the task in hand in spite of how they felt. On the other hand, they noticed that they performed at their worst when they focused on mistakes, worries, and other distractions. In order to practice focusing on the task at hand in spite of uncomfortable feelings, Dr. von Stietz led the players in team building exercises involving improvisational comedy. The improv comedy exercises involved playing silly games that required them to think on their feet while likely feeling embarrassed by the silliness of the task. One such game required them to take a random object and give it a new name and a new purpose. Then, they would hand the object to another player who would need to give it a different name and purpose. For example, one a player might have taken a stuffed animal and said, “This is my duckie and it helps me to sleep at night.” Then, the next player needed to take the stuffed animal and say something new such as “This is a devil and it sits on my shoulder and tells me to do bad things.” Exercises such as these require the players focus on their task while feeling embarrassed, anxious, and often pressured to say something funny.
Dr. von Stietz believes that sport psychology can and should be a fun and engaging experience for athletes. He looks forward to another year partnering with Salsa SC.
Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He works in the Torrance office and is available for a free initial phone consultation. Dr. von Stietz works with individuals from Long Beach, the greater Los Angeles area, and the South Bay including Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, and El Segundo.