This week we are bringing back the series A Layer Deeper. A Layer Deeper is a series dedicated to mental skills and sport and performance psychology. We will be interviewing professionals, coaches, and others in the field of sport and performance psychology to get their perspective on mental skills and application. Should you want to see any professionals or coaches interviewed please leave a comment and I will do my best to get them on the website!
Please introduce yourself!
Hi! I’m Adrienne Langelier. I’m a Native Texan, total running nerd, writer, and dog lover. I live, train, and work in The Woodlands, TX as a clinically-trained Counselor/Sport Psych Consultant specializing in work with athletes of all levels, sports and walks of life (with runners being my favorite, obviously!). I have been a runner of some capacity for most of my life; but started competing and getting serious in graduate school (there’s actually a kinda crazy and long story about that) and was blessed with the opportunity to compete at the Local Elite level with some sponsorships for a couple of years. I currently still train and race quite a bit simply because I love it and running is one of the ways I am able to really connect with myself and others. My personal journey and as an athlete has inspired me to do the work that I do as it hasn’t been the easiest at times, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Besides helping others with their journeys and running, writing is also one of my passions and I have some exciting projects coming up in addition to managing my blog, _sportybrains_. I’m also a total geek for my former University, Texas A&M! Gig Em!
P.S. I’m very excited and honored to be featured on the SRC Blog! You ladies are making such an impact on the sport of running. Keep it up!
How do you view sport psychology through your work?
Let’s see…sport psychology is useful in so many areas of our lives, not just on the road or track. I see it as an essential component in leading a happy, successful life and being able to show resilience in the face of adversity.
In my work, I take a look at the individual in front of me and try and get to know them as both athletes and people and we work together to help them achieve their goals. What happens in the space between our ears determines so much, gaining strength in this area is a process and requires commitment. The consulting relationship is a unique and special one. I often reflect on what I get to do for a living every day and am just blown away with the privilege of working with such awesome, inspiring individuals!
What I do with athletes or teams looks very different depending on who I am working with. I typically take a thorough needs assessment, set goals with the athlete, post the goals up and then teach them to focus mostly on the process, the day-in-day-out of achieving that goal. Sometimes its done through techniques and journaling, other times it’s just talking through things. I believe practicing sport psych is done best in the moment and addressing the needs of the athlete in front of you.
When should an athlete see a sport psychology consultant?
Anytime! Haha! In all seriousness, there are many different reasons and entry points, and it depends on the athlete or team in question. I recommend anyone competing at a high level or with big goals in mind, whether that be the Olympics or the Trials, College Running (or any other sport), or making a team-a little experience with the psychology of sport goes a long was as there are numerous pressures and factors to cope with that many are often unaware are even present. In the same vein, those going into big competitions, whether that be a key race, meet, or championship often benefit from talking to a sport psychology professional. Anyone who sets big goals and who wants to get the most out of themselves I believe has better odds of actually getting what they want if they come learn the tools to work the process.
When it comes to athletes dealing with certain issues or just, well, life-seeing a sport psychology consultant definitely comes in to play. In my office, common things addressed include performance blocks or plateaus, struggles with confidence, issues with teammates and coaches, injuries, disordered eating, and a lot of times, dealing with things off the track or field, such as relationships, anxiety or depression.
I advise those in the community that a good barometer for when sport psychology would be useful is when the athlete and their support system tries to solve the problem through various means, for example, addresses the physical (strength training, PT, nutrition, etc) and are still not seeing much or any change or progress. Athletes who may be struggling with motivation, loss of enjoyment, stress (from either sport or even things outside of sport) or negativity may be another indicator that seeing someone would be useful.
That all being said, a big misconception is that there needs to be a problem going on to see someone in sport psychology. I may be biased, but if you truly care and have the means to do so, why wouldn’t you use a sport psychology professional!?
What do you see are the benefits of working with a sport psychology consultant?
Actually, the field is growing rapidly and addressing the mental side is becoming routine and encouraged in a number of organizations. Having the mental skills and aptitudes to thrive in sport carries over into the rest of an individual’s life and sets them up to live happier, more productive lives-long after they hang up their shoes. To me, sport psychology is the tip of the spear in sport performance and overall wellbeing in athletes.
An athlete, given they do their part, can expect greater enjoyment and purpose in their sport and more consistent performance. Once a certain skill level is achieved, it’s the mind that really drives the performance. One of the most rewarding things I’ve seen over the years is the increased ability in athletes I’ve worked with is achieving the goals they once thought were out of reach. Sport psychology can raise the ceiling of what is actually possible for an athlete as they become more self-aware and confident.
I find it really important for the athlete to gain greater insight into their strengths, areas for improvement, and what type of athlete they are. Everyone’s journey and path is unique, and it’s awesome and the magic starts to happen when the athlete finds theirs. It’s my and my colleagues job to take the lens the athlete sees themselves and the world in and broaden and sharpen it.
What would you say to individuals who think that seeing a sport psychology consultant means that there is something “wrong” with them?
Clearly, they’ve been misinformed! Okay, I don’t say that to them because that’s a bit harsh! This is something I hear on occasion and usually address it as so: First, it shows how invested you are in your self and your sport, and it’s an inherent sign of strength to seek guidance from others. I often equate sport psychology with nutrition or strength training-learning what to do with your thoughts requires knowledge and training. Besides, the best in the world use it! An ideal client (struggling or not) is one who wants to improve in whatever area in sport and life, not one who is “broken” and sees themselves as so.
Often, the relationship resembles a coaching relationship more than “getting your head shrunk”, as the old adage goes. Oh, and the only couch I own is in my living room and I refuse to wear cardigans!
What is your specific niche in sport psychology?
Ooh, that’s actually kind of tough to answer. Sport-wise, I have my “Big Four” which are Running/Track and Field, Swimming, Gymnastics, and Golf. I see athletes of all kinds but a large number of those in individual-type sports and sports where confidence, focus and precision are key. Being an individual sport athlete myself, I find it easy to relate and guide others competing in these sports.
Practically speaking, while I love doing imagery and relaxation work with my athletes, I feel most at home with digging deep with them on a more emotional level-likely a product of the counselor in me. I am passionate about addressing the WHOLE athlete, not just their performance. I’m a huge proponent of instilling a growth mindset in those I work with. I find athletes that are best adjusted and resilient in multiple areas perform the best when it counts and can respond when things don’t go to plan. Hope that answer the question correctly!
To connect with Adrienne: