Athletes improve their mental performance

It is 90 percent mental and 10  percent physical. Research shows that most athletes agree the mental aspect of the game is greater than the physical. 

At California Baptist University, most teams are working to better understand and improve on the mental challenges with the help of Dr. Ed Garrett, certified mental performance consultant, more commonly known by athletes as “Dr. G.”

Garrett said he began working with the teams two years ago after the Lord called him to CBU. Garrett said he likes to call himself, in simpler terms, a mental performance and enhancement coach. 

Rolling up his sleeves to display his faith-centered tattoos and wearing a cross piece around his neck, Garrett lit up when speaking about his faith.

“The one thing I like about working at CBU is I get to share the gospel and I seek such great joy helping athletes every day,” Garrett said.

Jerome Heidrich, graduate student in sport and performance psychology, was mentored by Garrett during his first semester in the master’s program. 

“Dr. G fits really well with CBU,” Heidrich said. “He’s a strong, spiritual, faithful character. He’s really good at building a trusting relationship.”

Garrett works with the master’s degree in sports and performance psychology. He said he is passionate about mentoring graduate students through the educational process and having students observe his group sessions. During the sessions, three to five graduate students observe Garrett, they are able to step in and work with the teams. 

“My job is to educate those master’s students so that they go out and do it,” Garrett said.

Jordan Arrington, graduate student of the sport and performance psychology program, has also been mentored by Garrett. 

“We’ll walk around, talk to the athletes, get what they’re feeling from the session,” Arrington said. “We’ll break off and talk about different topics, such as goal-setting and imagery.”

In team-based segments, Garrett administers cognitive tools and  team-building activities in which athletes learn how to apply the tools. 

“I’m very much of an applied practitioner, but at the same time I like educating from the holistic standpoint,” Garrett said. “Though I may be talking about athletics, I tie it into how it affects their life.”

Garrett said the group sessions are a team effort. He and his students uncover how athletes communicate to themselves. He gives the example of when a softball player is walking up to the on-deck circle and a certain trigger occurs that causes her to doubt herself before getting to home plate. 

Garrett has conversations with athletes about their  fears before playing. He talks to them about their doubts to determine how to reduce their anxieties before games. For example, a baseball player may be anxious about his first at bat.

Garrett said when he shares these scenarios with his master’s students, they begin to paint a picture and come up with solutions to create positive thinking for the athletes. 

“It’s all about behavioral change, confidence enhancement,” Garrett said. “If that athlete walks off the field, win or lose, and feels good about their experience, then they’re going to want to come back tomorrow and compete.”

Athletes seek Garrett’s wisdom for the mental part of the game, but leave with lessons they can apply to their every day lives. “And that’s why I love what I do,” Garret said. 

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