Sports Psychology Tips for Stephen Colbert

When it comes to public figures who bring their ‘A’ game, few will argue that television host Stephen Colbert is not near the top of the list. For proof, just look to the Emmy, Grammy, and Peabody awards that adorn the mantle on the set of his nightly satirical news show, The Colbert Report, or the fact that his book I Am America (And So Can You!) sat at the top of the New York Times Bestseller List for fourteen weeks. Obviously, Stephen Colbert comes to win.

Now, however, Colbert is stepping into a new realm, going for an award that isn’t an Emmy or a Grammy, but Olympic gold. It seems that Stephen Colbert is joining the U.S. Speed Skating Team as an assistant psychologist. See the video below for Colbert’s interview with sport psychology consultant Nicole Miller on coaching up the U.S. crew.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sport Report – Nicole Detling Miller & Jessica Smith
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As he said, Stephen Colbert’s fairly new on the job, and the UNC Press bloggers want to support the American athletes any way we can, so we thought it would be helpful to pass on some pointers from Jennifer L. Etnier’s Bring Your ‘A’ Game: A Young Athletes Guide to Mental Toughness to Mr. Colbert. So Stephen, if you’re reading this (and we know you are), here are some keys for mental success you’ll want to have our speed skaters memorize:

  • Since all the athletes in Vancouver will be physical specimens, what will separate gold from silver and medal position from watching on the sidelines will be mental toughness. Have the skaters clear their minds, set goals, and focus on nothing besides achieving those goals. If they can block out distractions, they’ll perform at the top of their abilities.
  • Build their confidence by practicing positive attribution. When performance is good, stress that they take credit for it. When they don’t come in first place, don’t allow them to blame the ice or the skates. If the athlete doesn’t take responsibility, he or she won’t improve.
  • Make sure they have fun. This is something you’re great at: making other people enjoy themselves. The Olympics may be a once-in-a-lifetime type of event, and the athletes should not let the pressure of performance keep them from taking it all in. Fun will help the American team to not worry about performance, as well as come to the ice relaxed and confident. Without fun, everything else about their time at the Olympic Games will unravel.

We hope those points from Jennifer Etnier’s book can work as Sports Psychology 101 for Stephen Colbert. Speed skating is our nation’s most successful sport in the Winter Olympics, which makes it a great pairing for Colbert, arguably our nation’s most successful television host. For more on sports psychology, make sure to check out the Bring Your ‘A’ Game blog, and as Stephen Colbert would say, Go USA!

–Matt

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