Participation in sports can benefit students physically, emotionally and socially. However, when athletes are injured or hit a physical or mental slump, it can affect their confidence and sense of wellbeing. To help young athletes cope with these setbacks and develop the psychological tools necessary for optimal performance, St. Luke’s Sports Medicine has brought on sport psychology consultant Chris Williamson, PhD, to work with its more than 60 partner school districts and colleges.
Williamson will provide training sessions, educational programs and workshops on research-based strategies to improve physical and mental performance through the development of the mind-body connection. He will also advise St. Luke’s Sports Medicine physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers and sport performance coaches.
“We’re excited to have Chris join our sports medicine team to provide the best overall care to our patients and our athletes,” said Sports Medicine Coordinator Jillian Seamon, MS, LAT, ATC, CSCS. “Sports psychology is a critical component in any comprehensive program.”
Williamson, who has a doctorate degree in sport and exercise psychology, will use mental strategies to help athletes better cope with competition-related stress, including pressures from parents, coaches and their own expectations. Before joining St. Luke’s, Williamson was working in Florida with elite golfers, including PGA tour participants. He is a graduate of Southern Lehigh High School, where he played baseball.
“It’s important to help young people develop as individuals so that being an athlete is just a subset of their identity,” Williamson said. “In youth athletics, it’s often flipped so that young people are athletes first. Then when they’re injured or not playing well, it’s a kick to their egos.”
Also, sports psychology helps athletes optimize their training by limiting distractions and setting goals. When pressure increases, athletes need to simplify everything as much as possible, focus on the task at hand and rely on muscle memory, Williamson said.
“In the words of Archilochus, an ancient Greek poet, ‘We don’t rise to the level of expectations; we fall to the level of our training.’ Ultimately, it’s getting your body to behave the way you want it – to work for you instead of against you.”
To schedule a counseling session or book a group educational session with Williamson, contact email@example.com