I am a Doctor of Clinical Psychology who both coaches athletes and others involved in sport with life and mental skills, and provides psychotherapy to the general public. If you live in Colorado and psychotherapy would better suit your needs, you can visit my psychotherapy website at Johnobrienpsyd.com
My journey to becoming a mental coach for those vested in soccer started with my first kick of the ball. It probably wasn’t a very skilled touch, but it did get the ball rolling. Subsequent touches carried the ball from my local neighborhood playing AYSO and club soccer, to representing my city, state, and then my country at the youth level. The ball kept rolling thanks to many smart minds and caring hearts and as I aged the ball rolled over the Atlantic and found a home in Amsterdam with a club called Ajax, named after the Greek God known to be fearless, smart and powerful.
During the middle part of my career there was a heavy repetition and a deepening of my competitive soccer skills. Compete, play, practice, rest, repeat.... Compete, play, practice, rest, repeat... I made progress, had failures and injuries, and got up and tried it all again. I met heroes and villains and got to know fame and pressure, all while developing meaningful friendships and learning what was needed for me to be content.
During the later part, in my mid-twenties, I was able to become a little more removed from the daily grind that was so consuming. I had been a young adult immensely involved in “making it” and seeing what I could achieve. And what could be better? I was playing soccer with others obsessed by it, in an environment perfected to increase motivation and growth. My heroes were on the field next to me, on the field opposite of me and even later on my same team.
And then my head popped up out of the grass, and I could “see” the metaphorical “field” of soccer. With that vision came the excitement of having more agency to influence my life, my teammates and make choices, OH! I could have choice in this career, other skills can be of use, more interpersonal, strategic, or conceptual.
And then totally to my un-liking my body said it was enough. The pain and physical output was too much and it wanted out. The body is wise in ways, and like Ajax, the warrior in me had to fall on his sword. The metaphorical death of a warrior is not the death of the warrior like life-skills of the athlete. All the life-skills: courage, dedication, flexibility, attentiveness, team-work, and honesty are used daily in my current life.
We are in this together. My support of you effects your support of others and so on. The typical athlete must manage the pulls to be separate from, better than, and possibly lonely, with being connected, empathetic, and supportive in the time span from one whistle to the next. History shows being a good person is not easy and psychology shows that being real is a necessity. I’m here and happy to help you on your journey towards realness, whatever part of the “warrior” path you are on.
Every player, former player, coach or parent is unique and must be seen for who they are. BUT, the sport experience is a common one that requires specific things from its participants. How each person manages the challenges within their environment will be different. These challenges may relate to performance, emotional regulation, guiding or working with others, re-connecting with purpose, or finding fulfillment with life after sport. So, I take what is known about the common experiences in sport and the psychology of personal development and apply it to your unique life situation to help you move towards your goals.