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The 3 R’s of Self-Regulation

The world of sport and performance is filled with a variety of emotions. Sometimes we experience emotions that benefit us, but many times we experience emotions that actually impact our performance in a negative way. One of the most common mental skills that athletes and coaches want to know is emotion regulation. How can you manage your emotions so that they do not get in the way of you performing at your highest potential?

The good news is that there are many different ways you can manage the emotions you are experiencing. It is a skill though, and with any other skill it requires practice. Some days might be easier to manage than others. Sometimes we may even need the help of others to remind us how to manage our emotions so that we can unleash our potential.

When I was at IMG Academy last summer I presented on ways coaches can assist athletes in managing their emotions. What I found in one article was the 3 R’s of self-regulation. However, I modified it a bit. The article that I mentioned is also a great read and if you are curious about checking it out I listed it at the end of this post.

The key part in managing your own emotions or your athletes’ if you are a coach or mental consultant is to first understand and recognize when negative emotions are present.


Once an athlete makes a mistake/error coaches should be asking themselves and their athletes what they are thinking or experiencing. Our thoughts are what first affect the emotions we experience. If you are aware of your own thoughts then you are increasing your self-awareness.

Coaches should be checking in with their athletes on what thoughts enter their mind after a mistake so that the athletes can become more self-aware. It is crucial for coaches to increase their emotional intelligence to be able to notice and recognize when their athletes are not regulating their emotions effectively. Once you can identify that you or your athlete is experiencing a negative emotion you can move onto the next R.

*Check out Goleman, 1998 for more information on how coaches can increase emotional intelligence.


After recognizing the emotion the athlete needs to be able to let that emotion/negative thought go. This is referred to as resetting their thoughts and emotions. Coaches should encourage athletes to engage in a verbal cue as well as a physical cue to release the thought or emotion they are experiencing. After this is explained to an athlete and practiced, a coach can yell out to the athlete, “Reset” to remind them to go through their verbal and physical cues after a mistake.

Verbal cue examples:
– “Flush it”
– “Reset”
– “Next one”
– “Let it go”
– “Shake it off”

Physical examples:
– Snap a rubber band
– Brush off their hands
– Dig their toe in the ground
– Readjust gloves
– Tighten hair tie
– Readjust hat
– Taking a deep breath


After letting the mistake, emotions, and thoughts go the athlete needs to be able to refocus on the task at hand. This could be repeating an “I AM” statement or reminding athletes to focus on a specific skill to execute.

1. Repeat I AM/Power statements:
Ex: I am resilient, I am strong, I am focused, I am determined.

2. Remind athletes to focus on a specific skill to execute or position to be in.
Ex: Eyes on ball, relax, follow through, breathe, drive the arm, knees up.

Concluding Thoughts:

If you are implementing this with yourself, write down your 3 R’s so that you can easily access them if you forget. If you are a coach, have your athletes complete the exercise below and implement the 3 R’s in practice. This way when it is competition time your athletes will have the 3 R’s well rehearsed and it will become a habit.

Try this exercise:

1. Write down common negative emotions you experience within your sport/performance. Include the events that tend to make these emotions arise.
2. What verbal cue and physical cue do you want to use to reset yourself?
3. What I am statement or technical skill are you going to remind yourself to refocus?

I hope that you found the 3 R’s of self-regulation to be helpful and beneficial to yourself and your athletes. Comment below and let me know your thoughts!

Blog post that inspired the 3 R’s:

What I learned from Skiing

Last weekend I drove to Giant’s Ridge in Biwabik, Minnesota. It was a 7-hour drive one way; which is really the LAST thing I wanted to do. However, my mom organized it because my younger brother was homesick and he was in college an hour away from the lodge. I highly value family and thought about whether or not I should go for the week. Last minute I decided I would make the drive to spend valuable time with my family.

The reason we went to Giant’s Ridge is to ski. Many of you probably do not know my skiing history so I will share. The last time I went skiing was in 7th grade. I remember it was for a school event. I still remember going down the bunny hill several times and building up my confidence to hit the bigger slopes (bigger meaning the green slopes). I went down and was feeling comfortable. However, once I got towards the end I somehow forgot how to stop and slow down. I was going full speed right towards the group of teachers.

I can’t help but try to image the scene from an outsider’s perspective. Here comes a 7th grader who is becoming overly confident in their skiing abilities, not slowing down or stopping, headed towards a group of teachers. I had my arms flailing around me while yelling at the group of teachers, “I CAN’T STOP, I CAN’T STOP!”

Next thing I know I’m on the ground with my math teacher who I took out in the process. At least she was able to stop me. After that I haven’t been skiing since, until last weekend.

I would be lying if I did not say I was nervous. I also though love a challenge and was excited to see what I could do. In the back of my mind I was thinking of all the terrible “what if” scenarios.

What if I broke my leg?
With my leg broken, how much time would I need off of work?
I change insurance in the beginning of the month, what would happen to my medical bills?
What if this is my first concussion?
What if I would need surgery?

I reminded myself of my profession and how I help others push past their fears and doubts and focus on what they need to do to succeed and meet their goals. I need to apply that same practice to myself. I pushed the negative and scary thoughts out of my focus and instead focused on the exciting “what if” scenarios.

What if I am really good at skiing?
What if I could start going off jumps?
What if I become the next Lindsey Vonn? (ok this one was just for fun)
What if I ENJOY skiing?

These “what if” scenarios made me much more excited to ski and I began to look forward to it. I also tried to go into it without expectations and indulge in self-love and self-compassion. I understood that I was new to this and that it might take me a while to learn. I prepared myself to be patient and kind to myself instead of getting frustrated and upset if it took me a while to learn.

I started off the bunny hill and I was able to go down a few times without falling. My sister struggled more than I did, which boosted my confidence in myself because she said she was ready for the actual slopes. I reminded myself that if she is ready than I am ready too.

We started off going down the easier slopes and I was freaking out inside! I kept taking deep calming breaths on the ski lift, just like I remind athletes to do when they start to freak out and lose focus. I had mantras prepared to help me through these moments.

I’ve got this.
I can do this.
I just need to get to the bottom.
I’m a quick learner.
I will complete this task.

Once we got off the ski lift and started going my self-talk became technical rather than motivational. I asked my sister how I was suppose to ski and what to do with my feet. While we started going I would pick up some speed and then tell myself, “Cut to the left/right, move my body to the side, FRONT FOOT FRONT FOOT FRONT FOOT!”

There were moments that I started going faster than I wanted and I had to calm myself down and focus on the technical skills instead of freaking out about how fast I was going because that would have resulted in a fall. I continued to focus on my breathing and at times was yelling at myself in my head “FRONT FOOT FRONT FOOT FRONT FOOT,” to focus on turning to the side to slow myself down or stop. Once I got to a slower place or stopped I was able to catch my breath and remind myself that I am ok and I’ve got this.

The first few times down the slopes were challenging and I admit that I did want to quit. I wanted to stop because I was struggling and was falling a lot down the hill. I noticed that I also continued to compare my abilities with those around me. There were 5-year olds skiing past me and I was getting down on myself. I used my mental training skills though and told myself I am not a quitter and if I quit I will lose this opportunity to learn a new skill. I reminded myself that I am a beginner and to focus on myself instead of those around me. I used GRIT to keep myself going and each time I went down the slopes I got a little bit better, I fell less, gained more confidence, and was actually starting to have FUN.

If I did quit after the first or second time down the slopes I would have missed out on those feelings of success. I would have been stuck in the room by myself and wouldn’t even be making memories and bonding with my family; which is the sole reason I came in the first place!

Looking back now I am grateful for my education in Sport Psychology because I was able to apply it in this situation and experience learning a new skill with my family. The trip ended up being full of great laughs, wonderful memories, delicious food, and led to me leaving with a full warm heart.

The outcome could have been so different. I could have allowed myself to focus on the negatives throughout my experience, become more frustrated every time I fell, lost my confidence, and threw in the towel and quit. Quitters never reach success and their full abilities. Only those who learn from their failures and falls and keep their head up to keep going are the ones who will reach their full potential.

Think about yourself: which one are you? Would you have threw in the towel and went back into the room or would you have continued going down the slopes and face the fear and disappointed you were feeling?

It’s not easy. I was getting frustrated and I was getting upset. There were times I almost did quit, but those are the times when you need to keep fighting. That is when your mind needs to overpower your body and make it continue moving forward. I may not have gone down a black diamond or went over jumps, but I was courageous in my own way.

I faced my own fears of attempting skiing. I continued to ski even after I was taken out from behind from another skier. I didn’t quit and I continued to learn, fight, and move down the hill. Success doesn’t mean you have to be the best. Success is learning something new, fighting through the failures, and facing your fears.

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Remember: Success is on the other side of fear.

Why Kids Play Sport

My nephew started wrestling this year for his first time; he is 5 years old. I figured that his wrestling matches would be a bunch of little kids running around on the mat attempting to wrestle each other. I was shocked to discover that my nephew is actually pretty far behind many of the other kids around his age in experience. Several of the other wrestlers have been wrestling for a few years and have developed their skills at a faster rate than the other kids.

He was becoming frustrated and putting a lot of pressure on himself at such a young age. He continued to lose match after match and was becoming distraught. My sister (his mom) called me and told me how she was nervous for his next match because he had lost his previous matches and was so upset afterwards that he started to cry. He would tell her that he is the worst wrestler and that he will never win.

Why is it that the outcome has become so important at such a young age? Why is that so many young athletes are specializing and taking a sport seriously so early on?

Youth sports have been getting more competitive over the years. Children are starting to specialize at even younger ages; even though the research has demonstrated how that can lead to burnout and not developing transferrable skills essential to the youth athlete.

Let go back to what research has shown to be the top reasons youth athletes engage in sport:

1) Have Fun
2) Learn New Skills
3) Make Friends

Studies have shown repeatedly that the number one reason kids play sports is because of ENJOYMENT. If you are a parent or a coach ask yourself this:

Is your child/athlete having fun?
Are they enjoying the sport?
Are they developing new skills?
And lastly, are they making friends?

Your child/athlete will be less likely to drop out of sport if all three core fundamental aspects are met.

In my nephew’s case, he LOVES the sport. My sister has asked if he wants to quit after he cries about losing a match. She hates seeing how frustrated he is after wrestling. He tells her that he doesn’t want to quit. He wants to keep going because he ENJOYS the sport and he is developing new skills.

This video is from one of his first matches; observe how he moves along the mat and competes.


Now this video is from his match after he lost several matches in a row. He walked onto the mat with confidence and with a passion for the sport. He spent time and energy improving his skills and look at the difference it has already made.


He had a total of 5 matches that day. He walked away winning 4 and losing the last one. He held his head up high and was awarded a trophy for second place. He couldn’t stop telling me about how he approached each match and how thrilled he was with performance. This is what youth sport is about. Challenging youth to work hard, learn new skills, and most importantly to ENJOY what they are doing.

This post is not saying whether youth should specialize or not. It’s also not suggesting when you should have your child start taking sport seriously. What it IS about is a reminder to parents, coaches, and consultants to remember why children play sports and to enhance their experience to the best of our abilities. We want them to get all of the positive attributes that sport can provide for them such as grit, teamwork, confidence, resiliency, perseverance, goal setting, leadership skills, developing healthy habits, coordination, strength, and learning how to win AND how to lose. Communicate with your kids and try your best to provide the opportunities that THEY want.

Dominate your Mindset

Imagine this: You just finished a day of work. You had a long day and head home, which is a 40-minute drive. You hit traffic and it is raining. This is what you see ahead of you:

What thoughts enter your mind?

For most of us our initial reaction is to let this bother us. We become upset, irritated, and annoyed. This stresses us out even more than we already are from our long day at work. The 40-minute drive home suddenly feels like it has doubled. We become agitated, tense, and do not arrive home in a good mood. I know when I am in this state I tend to easily forget errands that I have to run on the way home and also become upset with all of the other cars around me. Suddenly in my mind I am a professional driver and everyone else has no clue how to drive. Both of these situations just upset me even more.

What if we were able to change our mindset? What if we changed the way we view the above image and the situation? This was actually a view that I had not too long ago after a long day of work. I had a 40-minute drive ahead of me and hit traffic right away in the rain. I could have chose option 1, which I mentioned above. However, I did not want to have a stressful drive home and arrive home in a bad mood. I had a CHOICE in the matter. Instead of reacting to the situation around me I decided to respond.

I didn’t view my drive home as a long, dreadful, rainy, and stressful situation. Instead I saw an opportunity to have a dance party in my car! I was able to pop in my throwback CD’s and jam out. I sang my heart out and danced the whole drive home.

*I don’t recommend dancing too crazy if you’re driving though, SAFETY FIRST!

Guess how my drive went from then on? It FLEW BY! It seemed actually shorter because I was able to enjoy myself. There were even more songs that I was hoping to sing and dance to. I was not annoyed with the cars around me and arrived home in a positive mood. I decided during that drive to control the situation the best way that I could; which was by changing my mindset and having power over my attitude.

Imagine if we took the opportunity to decide how we wanted to feel and RESPONDED instead of REACTING. No matter what the situation is:

– A big presentation
– An interview
– A game/performance
– When something is not going the way we planned
– After making a mistake
– A kid having a temper tantrum
– A stressful day at work
– A traffic filled car ride home in the rain

During stressful, upsetting, and anxiety-provoking situations we always have a CHOICE. We can let the situation dictate our emotions OR we can choose what emotions we want to feel to overcome the situation. Maybe listening to music and dancing is not your thing. Find out what is though. What lifts you up? What brightens your mood or calms you down? Find what works and use it to your advantage.

Remember: We can’t control the situation but we can control how we RESPOND to it.

Master your mindset to master the moment everyone!

It’s my party & I’ll cry if I want to

I find it only fitting to release my FIRST blog post on one of my favorite days….

*drum roll*


If you don’t know it yet, I LOVE my birthday. In fact I just LOVE birthdays. I’m about to break it down to you in this post why I love birthdays and why YOU should cherish yours as well.

To start off I have to blame my mother. She has ALWAYS made a big deal about birthdays and continues to do so. I have been getting text messages from my mother for the last 2 weeks counting down the days until my birthday and then precedes to text me the birthday song in ALL CAPS. She also calls me on my birthday at 10:30 AM to tell me the story of the day I was born. She starts to tell me how she was getting ready for work and started feeling cramps. She ignored it and continued to get ready until they got worse. She decided to have my dad bring her to the hospital and have my grandparents take my older brother and sister once she found out that I was coming soon! She calls me every year to tell me this story and I have it memorized. What’s great about my mother is that she makes you feel SPECIAL on your birthday. Really though that’s what birthdays are, it’s a SPECIAL day to honor YOU!

Now I’m not saying that you need to be that annoying person who gushes to everyone how important you are because it’s your birthday and that they should all be singing to you, giving you special treatment, and providing gifts. What I am saying is that you should appreciate the day you were born and treat yourself because it’s a powerful and magical day for you.

Although my mom is to blame for why I always looked forward to my birthday growing up I have changed my reasoning for why I look forward to it. It used to be because I would get a birthday week with presents, a birthday party, and always got to pick my meals and treats throughout the day. For me today though it is a time for SO much more. Here they are below:

Reasons birthdays are important to me:

1) It is a time to be GRATEFUL.

You have survived another year of life. That’s a big accomplishment because life is HARD! It is a time to reflect on everything within the past year that you are grateful for. I’m grateful for another year of life to do what I love and be around amazing people. I am grateful to my parents for bringing me into this crazy and beautiful world. I am grateful for my friends and family who have supported me throughout my ups and downs that I get to celebrate with. I am grateful to appreciate myself and all that I have done and all that I hope to do. Having an attitude for gratitude is crucial in improving your health, outlook on life, and happiness. Studies have shown that being grateful has a TON of benefits on your well being so get on board and start writing down what you are grateful for!

2) It is a time to gather around those who are IMPORTANT to you.

It is a time to find time to get together with family and friends who you may not have seen in awhile. I know that I have a busy schedule and I don’t make the time to catch up with those around me who are important. My birthday makes me put time aside without feeling guilty for leaving work early or not working on other things that I should be doing like cleaning the house. I get to go out and eat with those that I love and enjoy every minute of it guilt free and really be in the PRESENT MOMENT. I don’t make excuses because I know that I owe it to myself and I owe it to those I care about to celebrate with them.

3) Birthdays are a time for SELF-REFLECTION.

Every year on my birthday I reflect back on the previous year. What successes did I experience? What challenges did I overcome? What goals did I meet or what goal am I working towards? It’s a time to see the growth and progress that you have made as a person. I enjoy being able to see how far I have come since my previous birthday. Although after turning 23 there was not much for me to look forward to age-wise. Age is just a number though. I now enjoy being able to see what each year has brought me and excited to see what new adventures await me for the following year.

4) They are a time for SELF-CARE.

I don’t know about you but my birthday is a time for PAMPERING! Like I said before, I’m a busy person! I do not make much time for myself for things like getting my nails done, getting a haircut, a massage, etc. During my birthday though I treat myself to one or a few of the above mentioned pampering activities. I usually feel guilty for spending time and money on those things because I know I can push through without them. On my birthday though I take the time to relish in these indulgences and give myself time to unwind and relax. I will watch extra Netflix episodes because WHY NOT or indulge in one too many Reese’s because that’s my favorite candy and I get to spoil myself. It’s a time to live guilt free and find every opportunity I can to take care of myself and make sure that I am as happy as I can be on my special day.

5) They are a time for POSITIVITY and MOTIVATION.

If you don’t like my birthday, too bad because I don’t care! On my birthday I don’t deal with negativity. I am more motivated and positive because I am engaging in all of the above-mentioned activities. I am engaging in self-care, self-reflection, and gratitude which all boosts my self-esteem and motivation. I don’t waste my time and energy on the haters and critics. I especially refuse to be my own worst critic on my birthday.

This blog post is a great example!

If you asked me one month ago if I will write my first post on my birthday and I would have told you no way! I would have cared too much on what others thought. I would have felt like they think I’m boasting or gloating about my birthday. I would have worried about how my blog came across and any spelling errors that I had. I would have been too critical and negative to consider posting it. But guess what, NOT TODAY! Not on MY DAY. I get to choose what I want to do and my birthday gave me the extra boost of motivation and confidence that I needed to finally write my first post. I have been going back and forth on writing one since October! My birthday is my day to do what serves me and to feel good about my abilities and myself.

6) It’s a time to be truly, unapologetically, and authentically YOU.

During the summer one of my amazing mentors always encouraged me to be truly unapologetically and authentically ME during my sessions at IMG academy in Florida. However, it is not that easy at times. I get caught up in the negativity that can occur in our own thoughts, compare myself to others, and try to be someone I’m not. On my birthday though it is not hard at all. I get to do what I WANT to do and engage in activities that fill ME up. I get to include people that I WANT to be around to experience my birthday celebration with. During my birthday I get a free pass to be the fullest me that I can be, without judgment. I’m carefree and I’m truly the meest me (I just made up that word) that I can be on my birthday.

I hope that this post inspires you to think about your birthday differently. Use it as a time for motivation, inspiration, and gratitude to fill you up instead of putting you down. Getting old is hard. Many people do not like their birthday because aging scares them. Change your perspective.

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Use your birthday as FUEL to reach your dreams and to love yourself. Just like the song, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to” you get to choose what YOU want to do on YOUR day. How empowering is that? Make it authentically you and own it!

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