Sports Psychology, Part 2 – Relaxation

Just relax!

Those have to be the two most un-relaxing words ever to be put together. Yet we continue to tell ourselves and each other that when stress arises. Anxiety in sports has been around since the beginning of time. Dealing with this anxiety is what can separate a beer leaguer from an elite athlete.

For those of you who feed off of nervousness, that enjoy being freaked out beyond belief, this article is not for you. For the rest of us, this will show you some beginning steps and skills that you can use in taking your anxiety down a couple of notches.

We are nervous because we care. We want to succeed. We want to be the best we can be. Those butterflies in our stomachs are a welcome feeling at times. They can however be controlled so that they do not negatively impact your performance. I was a pitcher at a small college in southern California and I frequently came out of the bullpen as a relief pitcher. Every time I stepped onto the mound the catcher looked like he was a hundred yards away. Once I made the first pitch, and heard the pop of the glove, all of that went away.

When I began to learn how to relax under pressure is when I began to reach my full potential as a player. There are a couple of ways to do this. We have all seen the movie with Adam Sandler where he goes to his happy place. We all need to have this place. Think about where you are most comfortable. Think about how you feel in that place. You must replicate those feelings as often as you possible can. That way you can recall that feeling when the time is needed.

Cue words are a great way to get you into that relaxed mode. The problem is that we often use negative tense words to try and put us in that place. Let me show you what I mean. Do not think of a pink elephant. It is impossible. Your mind does not hear "don't". It only hears the action. You must put all cues into a positively tensed form. Focus, breathe, and loose are great cue words. Try and stay away from relax and concentrate as we have been exposed to those negatively so many times we often keep that association.

Finally allow yourself to let go of failures as well as successes. Each of them can taint your next experience towards either end of the spectrum. Remember to live in the present and not in the past or the too distant future. Worry about the task at hand and you will be able to reduce the amount of anxiety felt during your performances.…

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Election Highlights Education Reform

One of the issues President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney agree on is education reform, although they have different opinions about what that reform should entail. Their positions reflect a stark contrast in their differing philosophies. They have different beliefs about the role the federal government should have in public schools across the United States. Here is an overview of three different arguments Romney and Obama make about education reform:

School Choice
One of the most pressing concerns of Romney, and the Republican party in general is that of school choice. Different methods of expressing that choice have been suggested, such as vouches and charter schools. At the basis of Romney's argument is the positive effects of competition in creating excelling schools, just as he believes that the competition makes the free-market system great.

Barack Obama has a different take on school choice, arguing that it ignores the underlying causes of the problems within schools, such as poverty and segregation. As an alternative, Obama has spear-headed the "Race to The Top," a federal program which encourages schools to develop innovations in education through monetary incentives.

School Loans

Obama and Romney have very different views on reforming the federal school loan programs. During Obama's first term, the federal government took over the management of school loans based on the idea that cutting out the middle man would translate into cost-savings. A major concern for the Obama administration is making higher education more affordable and not burdening recent graduates with a mountain of debt. Obama even points to his own struggles with paying off school loans as a motivating factor in reforming the loan programs.

In contrast, Romney has argued that the federal government shouldn't be too involved in the school loan programs based on the idea that the private sector can do a better job. His main argument is that the federal government's management of the loan programs will lead to less competition. He also opposes loan forgiveness for those entering the public section, which has been a main part of Obama's attempt to reform the school loan system.

Teacher Unions

According to Romney, teacher unions are one of the main barriers to true education reform. He argues against teacher tenure and argues for tying student performance to raises for teachers and getting rid of teachers whose students don't exhibit sufficient achievement on test scores and other standards.

Obama has argued for incentives, rather than penalties, to encourage student success. For example, schools who make significant improvements in test scores are given extra money, and teachers have the opportunity to earn incentive pay if their students succeed.…

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What People Look for in a Church

When a visitor comes to your church you want to make a good impression and hopefully get those visitors to come back for a second visit. If your church is looking to grow, and get new members, here are some things visitors are looking for in your church.

Friendliness – Smile. Shake visitors hands. Introduce yourself. Ask if it's their first time visiting. Ask if they live in the area. Invite them to go out to eat with you and your family after services or to come back for a pot luck that's scheduled for next week.

Some churches take visitor information on Sunday morning, and then deliver muffins or banana bread to their homes later in the week. This is a great way to let people know you really do care.

The Bathrooms – I recommend putting up signs near the main entrance so that the bathrooms are easy to fin. Is there only one stall and a long line? Are the bathrooms dirty or dingy? Spend a little money updating the bathrooms. Perhaps some of the women in the church could take down the out of date wall paper and paint the walls a fresh, clean looking color. Keep them well stocked with toilet paper, working hand dryers or plenty of paper towels, and trash cans with liners.

Childcare – Visitors with children will definitely want to know all about your nursery and children's programs. Do you perform background checks on the people working with children? What are your policies regarding children's workers? If a child misbehaves, what correction is given? Do you have to sign your child in and out or do you let anyone pick up children? It's nice to have all this information typed up and printed for visitors when they drop off their children so that they'll feel their children are safe at your church.

Other things to consider regarding childcare: Are the toys, cribs and swings in good working order? If anything is broken, get rid of it. Keep things clean and safe. Ask a volunteer to watch for safety recalls on all of your children's things.

Your Beliefs. Print a simple sheet with your church's doctrinal statement to give visitors with a welcome packet or print this information in the weekly bulletin. Do you believe the KJV is the only valid version of the Bible? How do you believe man is saved? What are your beliefs about the trinity?

Also, visitors will be asking themselves if your church is a cult. You may laugh, but if everyone dresses alike, does their hair alike, and all the children go to the same school, you're going to scare some people away.

Keep these simple things in mind to make your visitors feel welcome, and you're sure to turn visitors into members.…

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Subsidizing Private Education

Douglas County school district, the third largest school district in Colorado, is considering private school vouchers allowing parents an option to send their children to a non-public school, including religious schools, using public funds.

Already struggling, Douglas County cut 168 teacher positions in 2010. It also cut a significant amount bus routes to the dismay of parents. Students who take the bus are now charged a $.50 per ride fee. And now the district wants to offer to pay (almost $5,000 per student per school year) for the option to go to private school. Why?

In short, supporters defend the issue by arguing that this will provide better education through competition and give low-income kids "options" for a good education.

The Douglas County 2010 Mini Annual Report, however, boasts that "In 2009, Douglas County students performed 12-21 percentage points above state CSAP averages in reading, math, writing and science. Not only did we exceed the state average in every grade and every subject tested, but we led the Denver area in reading, writing and mathematics."

Kids in Douglas County are getting a good education. In addition, parents can already send their kids to any school in Douglas County. Exceeding the state average in every grade and every subject, Douglas County already has pretty good options.

As for low-income students? In 2008 the median income in Douglas County was $100,493 while the median income for the state of Colorado was $57,184. Douglas County has the second lowest percentage of low-income students in the entire state of Colorado. Second only to Aspen.

Not only will the district, supported by public funds, pay the private schools nearly $5,000 per student per year, but the county will have to create an entire office to monitor the program. It also has to pay for an attorney to fight its political agenda. Money better spent invested in sports programs, music, teachers or… bus routes.

Many private schools cost more than $5,000 per year so the parents that cannot afford private school now won't be able to afford it with a voucher either. The only thing that this voucher program does in the case of Douglas County is take much-needed funds away from a successful program.…

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New Insights into Psychology of Infant Development: Do Babies Have Morals?

How much do Psychologists really know about infants?

The mental life of infants has always been mysterious. But for the past century, Psychologists felt certain about at least a few fundamental truths about the infant mind: 1. That infant cognitive schemas pass through several developmental stages before reaching maturity, 2. that early-childhood schemas involved wildly different cognitive frameworks from those found in adults, and 3. that these frame works involved a world view that is entirely self-centered and solipsistic.

Do infants have morals?

But today, these long accepted claims are being turned on their head by Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale who contends that infants are born with an innate moral understanding. His controversial argument is based upon a number of experiments in which infants, usually around six months old, are presented with rudimentary "morality plays." One play featured three puppets. One puppet was struggling to climb up a steep hill, another decided to help him, and started walking him up, while a malicious third one, ran up to the first puppet and gave him a shove, tumbling him down the hill. After witching these plays, the baby is issued a series of tests designed to determine if the baby is partial towards the helping puppet, and/or turned off by the sadistic one. In all these cases, babies showed a tendency to desire to be with and to reward the "good guy," as well as a desire to be away from and to punish the "bad guy."

Are these Studies Truly Groundbreaking?

Of course, it would be presumptive to assume that these plays point towards some sort of innate, objective moral hardwiring. We know that nature does play a role in individual preferences, but preferences alone do not equate to morality. A baby bonds with a mother because of his preference for intimate social contact and needed resources. At this stage in development, a baby's love is still wholly selfish. But the ability to detect the fact that this individual provides positive interactions and tends to basic needs is surely innate, as it is an evolutionary necessity for a mother's young to recognize her as such. It seems to me that this innate "morality" is simply an extension of the capacity to differentiate individuals who might offer good things to the baby from individuals who may threaten the baby.

What makes these experiments interesting is not that they prove the existence of inborn morality, but that they show the sophistication of babies cognitive schema: babies, once thought to be entirely solipsistic, are in fact able to see the connection between how one stranger treats another and how said stranger might treat them. Of course, as time goes on, such perceptions develop into an intellectual understanding of justice and fairness, but at this stage in child development, it is fascinating enough to see that infants are so sophisticated at interpersonal perception.

Citations

  1. Bloom, Paul. "The Moral Life of Babies". New York Times Magazine May 2010: 44-65.
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How to Lie to the American People

It isn't difficult, you make an false statement and it gets repeated, the repetition lends credibility.

Statement: When Clinton left Office we had a surplus of X, and now the federal debt is y.

Truth: The statement is true, but misleading. First off there was a "Budgetary Surplus" not an actual surplus of money at the end of the fiscal year, as such this "surplus" was projected, not real. Secondly the national debt has nothing to do with a budgetary surplus, but for the record; the national debt increased under b
Bill Clinton as it has increased under every president since the Eisenhower administration, as they were the last to decrease the debt.

The truth doesn't matter as long as the misleading statement is swallowed and repeated ad nauseam.

Today's news is that Hillary is actually ahead in the "popular vote"

Going into the Pennsylvania primary Barack Obama was up by well over 700,000 votes. Hillary Clinton is claiming that it's the popular vote that matters. Ok let's look at it.

After Clinton's "Landslide" [snicker] victory by 9.6% of registered Democrats. Obama is STILL up in the popular vote totals by 500,300 vote totals. That's not including (IA, ME, NV, WA, MI & FL)

Mrs. Clinton is claiming that she has a lead in the Popular vote. That's adding in Iowa, Maine, Nevada, Washington, Florida & Michigan.

First off let's explain something about those first four states IA, NV, WA & MI, these are caucus states! They don't vote per se, it's basically a straw poll. In Iowa people stand at local caucus locations and group together by candidate. they can then stand in "caucus" and try to persuade other caucus members to join their caucus. Only the two largest groups in the room are awarded delegates, and they are awarded those delegates proportionally by percentage of group size. There is no "popular vote total" because there was never a vote, there is merely the sum total of percentages by delegate district.

Ok if you add in the ESTIMATES (arrived at via polling data) for those four states we still have Obama ahead in the supposed popular vote +610,600. If you add to that the Florida vote….

First let's say something about Florida, The primary was voided early on in the process by the DNC as a reprisal for moving the state moving it's primary too early. They were warned, yet they moved in regardless. Both candidates' names were on the ballot in Florida. HOWEVER… Neither candidate campaigned in Florida (by agreement), BOTH candidates agreed to Florida's being not counted, and furthermore much of Florida's voters stayed home because they felt it didn't matter.

Ok, so what the hell, let's add in Florida, that decreases Obama's lead to +315,800

But what's this? We're forgetting about Michigan….

Here's the problem with The Great Lakes State. It's not the number of votes… It's the ballots stupid! Neither candidate campaigned there, Both candidates agreed to remove their names from the ballot, only Barack …

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What is the Psychology and Sociological Value of Favoriting a Tweet on Twitter?

The world of Twitter has slowly evolved into its own little sociological universe that users have more or less invented themselves. Consider that even though Twitter provides us with basic tools there, how we've been using them has really been dictating the true direction of Twitter. And one of the simplest tools available there has actually turned into one of the most revealing in how people feel about each other on social media. Ironically, it says so much despite no words uttered directly and only repeating what someday already said.

The above refers to Twitter's favorites section where you can instantly favorite a tweet by pressing a little golden star. While Twitter refers to it simply as a process for people to save tweets they like, what's the real psychology behind favoriting a tweet? Some online guides have provided some armchair psychology into multiple categories. With that, Twitter users are providing some of their own ideas on what they think the real motivations of favorites are. But does it go beyond and give us some deeper sociological insights into how people really feel about each other when not communicating face to face?

Favoriting Over Retweeting

There seems to be an unsaid dichotomy developing over making a tweet a favorite and retweeting someone's tweet. The art of RT'ing a tweet has been around since the beginning of Twitter and used to be the true favoriting method. That's because you're making someone's tweet more public in your own feed, including using variation on the RT of directly retweeting the whole tweet or just using copy and paste. While the psychology of a retweet may have to be done on its own, what's the real difference between an RT and a favorited tweet?

So far, there hasn't been any set rules, and some people might get insinuated vibes that a favorited tweet is slightly less than if the person retweeted directly on their page. In some cases, it may simply mean that they only give an RT directly on their page to people they know in real life. Everyone else they only know tangentially will be relegated to the favorites box.

The above might sound like a compact sociological picture of favoriting a tweet. Other times, it may be insinuated in a much more complex way that makes friendships on social media perhaps more scrutinized.

Are Favorites Meant Only for Compliments?

Many people (including some notables) use their favorites box to merely post tweets that have positive comments from real fans. In that regard, considering we can't go and call up our massive Twitter archive immediately to find the tweets we admire, favorites may be becoming our little scrapbook of compliments that can help us feel good about social media again after losing faith in its positives. Many notable people feel overly sensitive when they see how open of a forum it is to widespread criticism from supposed fans. During the bleakest moments, they can open their favorites box and be reminded that …

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Do the American People Need a Spanking?

Perhaps a spanking will get the public's collective temper tantrum under control. We seem to have become a people who embrace the defiance and rebelliousness of the sixties, but have disregarded the love. What's going on? I know, peace and love and kumbaya and all that stuff. Believe it or not, this is truly part of who I am and how my belief system works. However, I am also realistic enough to understand that people will not always agree or even attempt to understand and empathize with the other person's perspective.

The selfish unyielding of the ideals of most people these days seem to be more directed towards personal agenda than necessity and improvement. One hears the words of Mick Jagger " You can't always get what you want…get what you need…" What is all the hubbub? Does anyone truly believe that it is possible or even beneficial to have all of their individual desires catered to? Where is the brotherly love? Most people, whether they have a spiritual belief system or not can see the benefit of living according to the "golden rule". Do unto others as you would have done to you. Sadly, we instead find ourselves in the midst of a society which seems to have an attitude more of "I got mine" and "get them before they get you".

The irony here is that a handful of people who posses a great deal of power and control have the masses fighting their fight for them. How is your quality of life today? How is your health and what is your perspective on hope for the future? Let us not forget that a house divided can not stand! This is a fact that our leaders are well aware of. Yet, we are intentionally set against each other like dogs in a fight. Is this for our collective benefit? The polls say NO!

Big business bail outs, a fallen housing market and dying economy, special interest groups, lobbyists, lawyers, civil disobedience, racism, unjustified accusations of racism, millions of gallons of oil sitting in the Gulf of Mexico, and the acceptance of and excuse making for unlawful activity has left the majority of the nation feeling overwhelmed and in many cases more than a bit angry.

Have we become nothing more than a nation of excuse making co-dependents? With all due respect to the president of the United States, Mr. Obama has a job to do at present which is being ignored. It is time to get in touch with the experiences of a nation which is deep in despair and has become disheartened over the current state of life in this country. It is time to release the pressure valve in order that people may depressurize and catch their breath.

My personal belief is that only God himself can bring about true peace, security, and brotherly love throughout the land. In the mean time, one only hopes that people can understand that helping others, looking out for the …

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Sports Psychology, Part 1 – Goal Setting

Life is hard. Sports are harder.

We often have a hard enough time organizing our own daily lives in a way that we have a direction. Then add on top of that the stress of competition. To some it comes naturally. To the other 98% of the population, we must work at it.

Often times the first step is the most difficult. Having a plan, or a direction, can start you on your way to success. This can be done by setting goals. There are a couple of guidelines to doing this in a way that you can achieve your goals and succeed in your sport.

First and foremost the goals must be attainable. If you are a baseball player and you want to get a hit every time you step to the plate you are in for a rude awakening. While that is the goal every individual time you hit, it is not realistic over the course of the season. Make your long term goals just above your normal performance. If you get a hit 3 out of 10 at bats, then create a goal for 4 out of ten at bats.

Next, it is important top make sub goals. For every long term goal you need to create 3 daily task oriented goals that will help you reach that goal. For example, if your goal is to run a 4 minute mile, then create 3 daily routines that will support that goal. One might be to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night. The next can be that before you do your training for the day you will complete a 1 mile run at a full sprint. And finally you could add your nutrition guidelines to it. These are measureable, daily goals that will help you to reach your final long term goal.

Finally you need to remember that goals can change. Do not be afraid to change your goals or adjust them as you complete them or even fall short. Being able to do this will help you transition from an unrealistic goal to a more attainable one.

Mental preparation is key to every sport and exercise activity. Knowing how to approach this will not only make you a stronger athlete, but a stronger person as well. These trained behaviors will soon begin to change all aspects of your life. You will become more prepared and more focused in every task you undertake.…

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Education: Leaving Out the Middle Class

From education at the preschool level to the University level we can see the struggles and shortcomings of education for the middle class. From preschool to the graduation of high school students normally attend schools in or near their communities. These communities will influence the quality of the school and the education and experience received.

Schools in affluent communities, funded usually by the community, and schools in poverty communities, usually funded by the government, grants and various programs, are able to offer more opposed to their middle-class counterpart schools whose surrounding community has little means for private funding but too much means for government funding or grants. This difference can be seen in the quality of the buildings themselves, the food offered, school supplies provided, books used and field trips/extracurriculars provided. This limits the quality and quantity of information for middle class students and limits experiences and skills that they could later draw on for decision making, career availability, scholarship opportunities, etc.

Disadvantages can also be seen for middle-class students at the university level. The lack of sports/extracurricular activities and the poorer quality equipment can hurt their acceptance chance into certain universities and their potential for scholarship opportunities often lost out on to their counterpart students. This last part is perhaps the most crippling part for a middle-class university student. Their families rarely have the means to pay for their college tuition and expenses but far too often are considered as making too much money to qualify them for any kind of meaningful financial aid. Most of these students will go to a mediocre school just for the cheaper costs. That withstanding, the majority of any middle-class student will most likely incur loan debts to pay for their educations.

Because even this money is rarely enough, most of these students will work at least one full time job in order to keep up with expenses. In this they will lose out on the college experience both from the lack of time for campus life and to full focus on the information being presented to them. Most middle class students will either graduate college but make less money than their counterparts due to the less accredited Universities attending or they will drop out either from failing grades because of the cut into their study/class time by their jobs or because they find themselves no longer able to incur the money they need to continue paying for their educations. This later case usually leaves middle class students without the University type income but with the University type debt.…

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