Beating Blocks, Slumps and Performance Anxiety for Good!

Book Reviews

This is Your Brain on Sports: Beating
Blocks, Slumps and Performance Anxiety for Good!

by David Grand & Alan Goldberg
Published by Dog Ear Publishing, 2011

Reviewer: Phil Johnson

THIS IS an essential book for sport psychologists, coaches and of course athletes!
David Grand and Alan Goldberg, each with over 20 years’ experience working in
mental health and sport and both authors at the forefront of emotional healing
in sport in the US and beyond, bring not only a wealth of experience to this text, but
new ideas and techniques, which in essence revolutionise the way sport psychologists
can work to maximise human and sport potential. For example, competition anxiety,
‘choking’, is often considered to be brought about by ‘over-thinking’, negative selftalk,
and the pressure to perform, resolved traditionally through Mental Skills Training
(MST). However, the authors consider this is often brought about by negative
emotional past events, which have their roots in traumatic experience, and may
appear unrelated as well as more immediately meaningful.
The authors demonstrate with high profile athletes how their recently developed
‘brain-spotting’ BSP approach works, and the level of success it achieves in relatively
short time scales. Based on the very successful Eye Movement Desensitisation and
Reprocessing (EMDR) approach, Grand has taken this work to another level.
Goldberg for his part, has recognised that MST approaches traditionally used in sport
psychology have limits when ‘trauma’, both big ‘T’ and small ‘t’ are involved. With the
use of ‘bilateral sounds’, eye movement and fixed eye positioning, the ‘brain-spot’ is
identified, where historical issues relating to a traumatic event are stored. They enable
athletes to recover from such ‘blocks’, though de-activating ‘frozen’ trauma responses,
which are specifically held in the physical body, as well as emotionally stored. Goldberg
is also courageous in tackling parental and coach pressures on children, and how
such young athletes can become demotivated and traumatised by such experience.
The authors’ responses to Repetitive Sport Performance Problems (RSPP), are tackled
in the ingenious use of brainspotting, which enables physical desensitisation and
emotional, ‘schematic’ reprocessing of memory to take place, and is capable of
unlocking multiple as well as single traumatic events.
Learn to recognise the signs and symptoms of trauma in the sporting context, and
importantly know that it can be fixed. The athlete scenarios cover YIPS in golf, risk
taking moves in gymnastics, goalkeeper errors in soccer, baseball, motor cycling,
equestrian, as well as fear of injury.

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Southwest review Spring 2012