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Mindful : December 2014
In an unusual move for a star quarterback Russell Wilson, #3, runs interference for running back Marshawn Lynch, #24. On facing page: early morning training drill. When Carroll arrived in Seattle, his dream was to build a support staff ded- icated to improving the team’s physical and psychological readiness in a way that no other NFL team had done. He even created a department focused on monitoring the players’ sleep, nutrition, fatig ue, and energ y levels, and helping them master the nuances of personal excellence. A s Sam Ramsden, the director of player health and performance, puts it, “The players are performing for the team and we’re performing for them.” A key figure in that effort is Michael Gervais, a sports pyschologist with a strong background in mindfulness who has trained numerous pro athletes and Olympians, including three-time gold-medal-winning beach volleybal- lers Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor. When he met Carroll in 2011 he was struck by how “switched on” the Seahawks culture was compared to other teams he had worked with. “ In some cultures, the coaching environ- ment challenges athletes but doesn’t necessarily build the entire human,” he recalls. “ Pete is the only coach I know who has created a shared lang uage between the coaches and the players that’s completely grounded in the sci- ence of psychology.” Gervais teaches players meditation, which he calls tactical breathing, as well as a broad range of visualization and mental-imag ing techniques. He also helps them balance the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of sports and make mindfulness an integral part of their daily lives. While other sports psychologists focus on training players pre-performance rituals, Gervais uses a sophisticated blend of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral training to cultivate what he describes as “full presence and conviction in the moment.” One thing he devotes a lot of attention to is getting athletes to understand the Ger vais uses tactical breathing, visualization, and mental-imaging techniques to cultivate “full presence and conviction in the moment.” Michael Ger vais talks about mindfulness and high-per formance training at mindful.org/seahawks 50 mindful December 2014 performance