Marie-Hélène Budworth

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management, specializing in learning, development & motivation.

Marie-Hélène Budworth

Olympic fever!

February 11th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized


I am completed addicted to watching the Olympics!  I watch them every time – winter, summer whatever. They allow me to experience a full range of emotions – anticipation, excitement, pride, and even tears.  This year’s Olympics have not disappointed; the win by the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, the repeat performance by Bilodeau – amazing moments.  

At one point when Mikael Kingsbury (the skiers who took the silver next to Bilodeau’s gold) was in the middle of a run, the announcer noted that Kingsbury does not work with a sports psychologist.  His ability to deal with the pressure is so strong that his coach doesn’t want to ‘mess him up.’  That is an interesting example of self-efficacy, resilience, and cognitive framing in itself but I was struck by the implication.  In contrast, most other athletes work closely with sports psychologists as part of their training team.  Many of the athletes brought their psychologists to Sochi!  

The practice of sport psychology has become an integral part of top level performance among athletes.  If you have had any experience with sport, it is clear that once your body has learned the skills, a large part of the game is mental.  This is a clear example of the power of cognitions.  The way in which you frame an event has a significant impact on whether you will be successful.  We see this time and time again in sport psychology, and we see it in organizational psychology. 

Many of the principles used in the practice of social psychology overlap directly with issues studies and examined in organizational psych.  For example, my work on Verbal Self Guidance examines how altering one’s own cognitions can change performance in career relevant situations.  The same technique, under the same time and with a slight rebranding, has been used both in the research and practice of sport psychology.  There is also heavy use of goal setting, mental imagery, and stress management work in both areas.  We are also seeing some of the language from sports making its way into offices – coaching anyone?

In both disciplines, we are looking at maximizing performance events.  So the next time you are talking to your team, think broadly about the tools that you have at your disposal.  What would Bilodeau do?


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