Dr. Tasker Helps Pacific Athletes Tune Their Minds For Sports Performance
As an athlete, I can testify to my mind telling me to give up before my body feels physically incapable of pushing anymore. Adrenaline wears off. Distractions occur. The mind loses. Athletes often find themselves in two positions: give up, or keep going. And, an athlete’s mindset can drastically influence those two options. Yet, most athletes spend repeated hours training physically for their sports, but rarely prioritizing training the mind for performance.
Dr. Tamara Tasker has been integral to Pacific University Athletics for four years as the Sports Psychologist Consultant, working with individuals, teams, and coaches to enhance performances through mindful practices; like goal setting, positive self-talk, and focus-building. With teams or groups, sessions aim to help strengthen communication skills and the team culture.
“The work I do is more focused on when a student-athlete is struggling in their performance in the sport, or they are doing okay, but they know they can be better,” explained Dr. Tasker. “It is about recognizing the importance of training your mind as well as training your body and craft.”
Dr. Tasker explained mindfulness as focusing on the present; students often struggle with information overload and busy schedules that distract them from living in the moment and ultimately lead to poor sports performances.
“We are asked to do and pay attention to a lot of different things all at once, and you cannot perform as well as you want if your attention is elsewhere,” she explained. “I help student-athletes gain the skill to be more centered and present focused.”
Dr. Tasker focuses on many situations that are not uncommon in athletes’ lives. When school stresses an athlete out, how can they step onto the field and not bring that stress? When athletes have nerves before a game, how can they not interrupt it as negative emotions? When a baseball pitcher is in a slump, how can they mentally overcome it? Dr. Tasker stresses how much the mind and body are connected, and believes that a healthy mindset will lead to better performances.
Rather than allowing negative feelings of poor performance to impact the next move, play, or practice, Dr. Tasker helps athletes gain the skill to learn from what went wrong and bring themselves back to the present for a fresh start.
“If you can gain the skill to learn from what went wrong, and bring yourself back to the present, then you will be in a much better position to compete rather than dwelling on the past mistake,” said Dr. Tasker optimistically said.
Dr. Tasker is an unknown resource for many students because she is at the Hillsboro campus, but students can set up online Zoom appointments through the Pacific University sports information website. — Emily Rutkowski