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Good Sports: A Holistic Approach to Optimal Performance

Dr. Carrie Hastings founded Sport Psychology in Westlake Village last fall in order to provide athletes with the mental fortitude needed for peak performance. As a former student athlete and licensed clinical and sport psychologist, she understands both personally and professionally how mindset impacts physical output.  

“I was on the track team at the University of Notre Dame and competed at a high level,” she says. “We didn’t have a sport psychologist and I don’t think it was even prioritized back then. I know I could have used one.” 

Dr. Carrie and her team of clinicians work with athletes at all levels from youth all the way to professional. For the past four years, she’s been the team psychologist for the Los Angeles Rams.

“At the professional level, they’re starting to prioritize the mental, emotional and performance aspects and how those things combine to help you perform at your best. I wanted to provide this type of support for athletes of all ages and abilities.” 

Although there’s still a long way to go, she says the tide is changing to the point where it’s not as taboo to name what’s going on and seek help for it.

“In the past, it was seen as a sign of weakness and now, rather than feeling you have to bury it or hide it, we’ve realized it’s better to recognize it and do something about it. There’s no shame in that,” she notes.  

Here, Dr. Carrie explains what her facility can do to assist athletes in reaching their goals. 

Q. What do you and your clinicians offer? 

A. Sport Psychology offers one-on-one and group counseling, as well as workshops and guest speakers. The one-on-one structure is nice in providing a confidential space for athletes to develop relationships with their clinicians and feel that they can share anything. The group work is important because they can hear from their peers about potentially similar struggles and not feel as alone or isolated. They can also learn how to put words to situations and articulate problems. 

Q. Why is mindset sometimes even more important than skills when it comes to being successful in a sport?  

A. Skills are learned and it’s the physical exhibition of what you’re capable of doing. The mindset is crucial and often neglected because you don’t always see it in a tangible way like with physical skills. Mindset is so influential on performance, and whether it’s knowing how to help yourself cope with failure, loss or injury or how to build resilience—all of that is mental and those skills are just as important as physical techniques. 

Q. What are some common psycho-emotional factors that create obstacles for athletes?  

A. The most common psycho-emotional factor I see with athletes is anxiety, and that often stems from issues within the sport, their level of ability or goals, and even their relationships. There are also issues that originate outside of the sport and get carried into the work of an athlete, so we work to cope with those and provide tools that they can incorporate into their sports regime to help regulate the anxiety. In addition to anxiety, I see depression as well as just general stress, so we help athletes manage those. We also assist with communication skills—how to effectively communicate with coaches, teammates and officials.  

Q. Tell us about your clinicians. 

A. We currently have 10 practitioners and they all have at minimum a master’s level education within the realm of sport, exercise and mental health or they’re in the process of getting that degree. We have some doctorate level practitioners, as well. Our staff has a great range of experience and all were athletes themselves so they can relate to what our clients are experiencing.  

Q. Why did you start your own library inside of the facility? 

A. The Hastings Library of Sport Psychology was something I really wanted to provide because there still aren’t a lot of sport psychology resources available. So, I’m developing a collection where people can come and browse or check out a book. It’s a regular working library that anyone in the community can visit, buy a library card, and check out books. 

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