Category Archives: Sports Counseling

Counseling Office in Gonzales, LA

Counseling Office in Gonzales, LA

We have an office in Gonzales, LA where we offer Individual Counseling, Marriage Counseling and Family Counseling. Our office in conveniently located off of Hwy 30 on S. Hodgeson Rd., only a few minutes from I-10. This location is easily accessible to Gonzales, St. Amant, Prairieville, Sorrento, Donaldsonville, French Settlement and Galvez. If you live in the Gonzales area, need individual or marriage counseling, and you don’t want to travel into Baton Rouge, feel free to give us a call to see how we can help you.  You can call us today at 225-290-7255.

For more information about our Gonzales office location, please click here.

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The Penn State Scandal, Joe Paterno and Mental Health

The news is official, Penn State University is cleaning house because of the sex scandal and cover up that has rocked not only Penn State but also the entire nation.  Why has this captured the attention of the nation?  Because it is challenging a collective problem in our culture, which is the idolatry of organizations, institutions or corporate systems over the dignity of the individual.  Whether it is a church, a business, a university, a football team or a corporation, when people are taught to place too much belief in any of these organizations, individuals get victimized.

The sexual crimes on children and ensuing covers ups have appalled people of every level of society, yet how did this happen at Penn State, involving one of the most respected coaches in the history of football?  It happened because the football organization was deified to an exalted position by fans, administration, coaches and players.  When an organization is exalted to a high place beyond reproach, it is a set up for scandal.  We can point fingers at the President of Penn State, Joe Paterno or any other person involved in the scandal, yet my challenge if for each person to point the finger in the mirror.  Ask yourself, “Which organization do I exalt to a high level that is beyond reproach?”  God is the only being beyond reproach, and everything and everybody else needs to abide by the standards that preserve the dignity of individuals.  My hope is that the victims of this scandal receive the care and healing that they deserve, and everyone else learn to give to man what belongs to man, and give to God what belongs to God.

Dean Sunseri, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Baton Rouge, LA.  He also specializes in Sports Performance Counseling.

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Mental Game Golf: Playing with your Eyes

We have 2 ways of understanding the world, through words and through images.  When you read this article, you comprehend these words and you develop some level of understanding, which is a simple example of understanding the world through words.  When you look at the dark low clouds move in during the early afternoon, you understand that a rainstorm is approaching, which is an example of understanding through images.

The left side of your brain contains an area that has evolved in human beings to enable you to communicate through language.  It is a highly developed part of the brain that separates human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom.  This part of the brain is great for the library and the classroom, yet studies have shown that this area is associated with choking during athletic performance.  Athletes of every sport have reported that sometimes they begin to struggle when they are thinking too much.  The player, who has a 6-foot putt to win the club championship, begins to think about what this putt means, the risk of missing it, the past 6 footers missed, and the correct mechanics of the stroke.  The mind is racing like a thoroughbred horse, and his body is having convulsions.

The right side of the brain sees the world in images.  There is not much interpretation of the image, simply taking in the snapshot through the eyes.  Next time you see Tiger on television, watch his eyes as he stares down a putt.  Look at the eyes of Drew Brees, as he is looking down the field to pass the football.  See the eyes of Dwayne Wade as he makes a break for the basket.  The eyes and the right brain are at a fever pitch, while the mind or left-brain is quiet for the most part.  In a classic study of athletes in the zone, Nideffer found that the primary focus of the athlete during the peak experiences was externally focusing through their eyes at the target, for target-oriented sports.  The internal dialogue or focus was minimal to none.

A major crossroad for an athlete occurs after an average or sub average performance.  Most athletes rev up the left side of the brain after a marginal performance.  “What are you doing with you right hand to make the putt push?” says the mind after the missed 4-footer.  It is a natural reaction to think your way out of a problem, yet too often in golf, a player thinks himself into more frustration and doubt.  I am not suggesting that you should not think on the golf course, because thinking is very important, yet it can be destructive when you are thinking while you are performing.  You will do much better if you crank up your eyes, and become more target focused when you are struggling with your swing.  Keep the inside chatter as quiet as possible, and get your focus outside of yourself, and on the ball and target.

When you have the 6-foot putt to win the club championship, wouldn’t it be nice to have your mind quiet.  You are aware that it is for the win, yet your mind is not having a discussion about “what if.”  You simply see the line of the putt intensely with your eyes.  You see the dead grass about a foot in front your ball that you want to roll over towards the hole.  You see the edge of the cup that you want the ball to enter into the hole.  With a quiet mind, you begin to feel in your body the exact stroke that will put the ball in the center of the cup.  You are in the present moment and about to strike the putt.  In my judgment, you have won the tournament, even if you missed the putt, because you were prepared in every way to make the putt, and gave it the best chance to go in.  Your percentages of sinking it with this frame of mind will be significantly higher than if you have your left-brain racing in your mind.

Play with your eyes, and not with your mind, and see the difference.

Dean Sunseri, MA, MEd, is a specialist in Sports Performance Counseling. He has a Masters in Counseling from the University of New Orleans and a Masters in Theology from Notre Dame.  Some notable athletes he has coached are PGA Tour member John Riegger, NFL Players Donte Stallworth, Patrick Ramsey and Kenny King, New Orleans Brass Hockey Team and the US Inline Skating Team. He has an office in Baton Rouge, LA and can be contacted at ds@ihaveavoice.com or www.ihaveavoice.com .

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Golf: Mental Preparation for a Tournament

Every sport has a variety of pre-game rituals to prepare the athletes for competition.  I attended a Professional Basketball game, and there was a consistent routine of drills that the players engaged in, such as stretching, passing drills, lay ups, foul shots and rotating jump shots.  These rituals are carefully planned by the coaches with the purpose of warming up the bodies and minds of the players for competition.  Unlike basketball, golf is basically an individual sport.  The golf player needs to develop his or her own pre-game rituals to prepare for competition.  What are the important pre-game rituals to prime up your mental game?

Athletic performance is dependent upon the cooperation between the intellectual mind and the feeling body.  The connection between the mind and the body needs to be awakened.  Conscious stretching is an excellent way to wake up this connection.  Conscious stretching is more than simply stretching muscles, it is moving your center of awareness into the area of your body that you are stretching.  For example, if you are stretching a muscle in your leg, you relax into the stretch and focus your awareness totally into the sensation that is occurring in your muscle.  With a quiet mind, you move your awareness into the different parts of your body, and as you warm up your muscles, you are also consciously connecting with your body.

The second part of the mental game that needs to be warmed up is your competitive juices.  After you hit enough balls to get your body loose, play some competitive practice games to wake up your competitive fire.  For example, take out your driver, and play the game that you need to hit 3 in a row within a 20 yard width of a target.  This game simulates pressure, challenges you to concentrate and forces you to focus on the importance of each shot.  Another game is that you need to make 3 putts in a row from 6 feet.  Again, you begin to move into a vibration that challenges you to make each putt count.  As you exercise these mental challenges, you are awakening these mental muscles for competition.

Another great mental preparation exercise is to imagine playing the first 3 holes on the practice tee.  Pull out your driver and imagine that you are on the first tee box, and hit the type of shot that fits the layout of the hole.  After a good drive, hit the appropriate iron that you would use for your approach shot to the green.  Imagine yourself on the 2nd tee box, and repeat the exact rotation of shots that you would do on the course, except the putting.  After completing the 2nd hole, do the same process imagining the 3 hole.  Some players will go through the entire 18 holes in this manner before a tournament, and they will tell you that they receive great benefits from this exercise.  It serves the wonderful purpose of experiencing the rotation of shots that your experience during the round, yet more importantly, it will decrease anxiety because your body is becoming familiar with playing strategy.  The same process can be done on the putting green.  Play 3 holes imagining that you are on the first green, and you go through your full routine, and finish the hole.  Pick another hole and imagine that you are on the 2nd hole, then the 3rd.  This process helps you get the rhythm of your putting routine going, in addition to engaging your mind into the attitude of scoring.

Finally, create a pre-game warm up that warms you up physically and mentally, and be consistent with the same process.  The worst mistake you can make is to go straight from your car to playing a round with no warm up.  It may be the 4th hole before you begin to transition into competitive mode.  Develop a pre-game plan and allow yourself plenty time to complete the process.  As human beings, we love consistency and love to know what to expect.  If you develop a pre-game routine and consistently follow it, your body and spirit will become accustom to the different cues, and will be ready for competition.  The consistency creates safety, and safety allows the best of your ability to come out.  Warm up you body and warm up your mind, and you will hopefully warm up that pencil to write down those low numbers.

Dean Sunseri, MA, MEd, is a specialist in Sports Performance Counseling. He has a Masters in Counseling from the University of New Orleans and a Masters in Theology from Notre Dame.  Some notable athletes he has coached are PGA Tour member John Riegger, NFL Players Donte Stallworth, Patrick Ramsey and Kenny King, New Orleans Brass Hockey Team and the US Inline Skating Team. He resides in Baton Rouge, LA and can be contacted at ds@ihaveavoice.com or www.ihaveavoice.com by telephone 225-290-7252.

 

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Mental Golf: 3 Strategies to Lower Scores

When you have to assemble the latest appliance that has arrived in a box, do you begin assembling, and look at the directions later, or do you look at the directions then begin to assemble? We each may have a different method to achieve the goal, yet everyone will probably agree that the directions have a purpose of helping you assemble the appliance successfully. Do you want to lower your golf score? Here are 3 simple directions to create lower scores, even if your skill level remains the same. Are you ready to follow the directions?

Direction #1: Only attempt shots that you can comfortably execute at least 60% of the time. If you can drive the ball into this narrow fairway 2 out of 10 times with your driver, yet you can keep in the fairway 6 out of 10 times with your 5 wood. Use your 5 wood. With a higher percentage shot, your body is more comfortable, your confidence level is higher, and your chances of hitting a solid shot is significantly higher. The impact of the previous shot has a big influence on your next one. Isn’t it easier to maintain a solid rhythm when your previous shot was a solid, smooth and well hit 5 wood, compared to a nervously executed drive that sliced into the rough? Using the 5 wood off the tee may not be the best thing to impress your playing partners that you are “the man” who should be entered into the Long Drive contest, yet it will bring you satisfaction at the 19th hole when you are adding the scores. A major trap for golf players is trying to make up a stroke following an errant shot. If you drive into the rough and you have some obstacles between your ball and the hole, many players will try a low percentage; miracle shot that gets on the green. If you confidently pull this shot off over 60% of the time, go for it. If not, punch out safely onto the short grass. The biggest obstacle to faithfully following the 60% rule is an ego. How would you assess the control of your ego on the course?

Direction #2: Stay on the Short Grass as much as possible. This seems to be very obvious, yet it is not as obvious as it appears. You will score better hitting a lesser club, and staying in the fairway off the tee box, than if you use more club, and inconsistently get your drive into the fairway. Statistics are very clear about the correlation between fairways hit on tee shots, and lower scores. The fairway decreases significantly the chances of miss hitting, takes out the possibility of any major obstacles, and eliminate the chances of penalty strokes due to hitting out of bounds or into a hazard (few exceptions). Psychologically, the fairway increases confidence, promotes rhythm, and increases the ability to execute accurate shots. The next level is getting on the shorter grass or putting green. If you are ever hitting an approach shot that is between clubs, pick the one that will safely get you on the green. For the majority of players, putting accuracy is much higher than chipping accuracy of the same distance, so play to the short grass.

Direction #3: Increase your focus on WHERE you want to hit it, and decrease your focus on HOW you want to hit it. Focus on your target; get obsessed with the end destination of your shot and you will score better than if you are mentally concentrating on how you want to hit the shot. If you are absorbed in the mechanics and techniques of the shot, you loose your target consciousness, and your intensity for the target begins to disappear. When you loose your intensity of your target intension, you also loose the control of the flight of the ball. Do not misunderstand me in saying that the mechanics and techniques are not important. I will be the first to say that you need to develop great mechanical skills and techniques, yet this is the work reserved for the practice tee and golf instruction. When you are out on the course, it is the time to let the analysis go, and get focus on hunting down the target and scoring.
I challenge you to play 2 or 3 rounds following these 3 simple instructions, and I’ll bet your scores will improve. Let me know how things turned out!

Dean Sunseri, MA, MEd, is a specialist in Sports Performance Counseling and has coached Golf Tour Professionals, NFL Football Players, Professional Baseball Players and Professional Hockey Teams. He can be contacted at email or 225-290-7252.

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