Before the need for social distancing, Dr. Jason von Stietz met with a NCAA Division III women’s water polo team to help them to improve their mental skills related to teamwork. The Whittier College women’s water polo team regularly plays and defeats teams from much larger NCAA Division I schools. The team is filled with highly skilled players, four of which earned recognition as All-Americans by the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches. Dr. von Stietz had the honor of playing a small role in contributing to their success.
Dr. von Stietz led them in a team building training involving improvisational comedy exercises. Improv comedy exercises involve playing fun games that require people to think on their feet in order to solve a problem or perform a novel task. The team engaged in improv comedy exercises involving working together to co-create an ancient water polo proverb. This exercise involves taking turns contributing one word to the proverb. For example, one player might say, “The.” Then, the next player might say, “best.” Followed by the next player, who might say, “never.” Followed by, “rest.” Altogether, this would create the ancient water polo proverb, “The best never rest.” Although this exercise may seem simple, each player must contribute their word without being able to control or influence the player before them or the player after them. They must learn to adapt to the needs of the moment in order to contribute to a proverb that makes sense. Improving teamwork during improv comedy exercises helps athletes to improve their teamwork during practices and competitions.
Following the sport psychology session, the head coach commented that the team performed very well together as a team. Unfortunately, their season was cut short due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. However, the Dr. von Stietz and the team plan to work together again in the future.
Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He provides online therapy (telehealth) by way of 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, El Segundo and all over California.