Sport Psychology of a Millennial Athlete

The Sport Psychology of a Model Millennial Athlete

The New York Times (12/1/13) had two separate sport psychology feature articles in its Sunday Sports and Sunday Review pages which dovetail nicely. The sport section piece is on David Wise, the current gold medal favorite in half pipe freestyle skiing at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The review section piece is on the Millennial generation, those born after 1980, and their work priorities focusing on finding something meaningful and with purpose. This priority does not require that the work choice be largely a financial success.

The dovetailing of the pieces is created by David Wise’s approach to his sport and how it is seamlessly ensconced in his Millennial lifestyle philosophy. Wise is not the prototypical X Games celebrity athlete. Wise felt he had to hide his marriage from both the media and endorsement possibilities for fear of being labeled “too vanilla” and not having an edgy enough image for X Game sports. Wise revels in his lifestyle choices and philosophy which includes his enjoyment for writing and missionary work. Both are considered as future occupational directions. There is a nice synchrony and flow described by Wise, in the lifestyle elements of being a husband, father, youth pastor, connected to family and friends, and the meaning he finds beyond his sport. How the meaning then folds into his sense of joy, confidence and success when skiing seems easy to comprehend. In Wise’s words, ” It’s not a big coincidence that all the big events that I’ve won were after Nayeli (his daughter) was born”…”I think it’s kind of cheating, because it’s something none of my competitors have. There is less pressure when you know there is more to life”.

Rather then Wise’s sole focus being on happiness via medals and “getting what you want”, Wise has sought the purpose and meaning in his life that is referenced by the research in the Millennials article. As a psychologist who specializes in optimizing performance related to health, sport and business behaviors, I believe the balance Wise has established makes the necessity to “out train the world” much more manageable. Free of destructive conflicts, secure in his relationships both spiritual and earthly, and stable in his “self representations” all contribute to an optimal psychological mentality for effective performance. I look forward to how much he enjoys his competing in Sochi and watching his daughter cheer for DADDY!…
Happy Holidays to all!!!!