This page is a collection of work presented by EXS311 class at Eastern Oregon University for Summer 2010

The Blind Side... A Review

            In summary, “The Blind Side,” is a true story about a homeless high school student who doesn’t know who his father is and has a mother who has been wrapped up in drugs throughout his entire life.  This boy, Michael Oher or “Big Mike”, appeared to be destined to be just another statistic, an uneducated underachiever from the projects in Memphis and if it weren’t for one woman, one of America’s best athletes may have never been discovered.  Leigh Anne Tuohy and her family saw this lonely boy and Leigh Anne decided to do what she felt was the right thing to do and take him, make him part of their family and give him an opportunity at life.  Because of his size and his spoken desire it was apparent th Read more »

Exam 1 Results

Your exam results were made available earlier this week, after the exam closed. Hopefully, you all have gone in and taken a look at the questions you missed as a learning exercise and in order to prepare better for the next test. The scores were a bit lower than I hoped for, but generally Exam 1 has relatively low scores in recent classes I have taught. Because of this, I have made an adjustment to the total possible, which bumps your grades up a bit. Most of you showed good preparation with your practice quizzing. I will expect better preparation in this regard by everyone for the next 2 exams. Spending the time to do serious practice quizzes will improve your preparation. 

Performance Anxiety

While I was playing D1 college football a number of years ago, I struggled with performance anxiety to the point that I was unable to perform my responsibilities without a constant fear of failure. After meeting with my position coach about this, he suggested that I meet with a Sports Psychologist hired by our university to work with athletes with similar issues. I met with him a couple of times and he suggested that I had an issue with where I fell on the Performance Anxiety Curve (his name for what the book calls inverted U arousal performance relationship). He suggested that I was experiencing a level of arousal to high on the curve to perform at an optimal level. Read more »

Running - My Arch Nemesis

I know that running is the perfect exercise.  It gets your heart pumping, your body moving, helps keep your bones strong, gives you that slamming body that no other exercise can get quite right, okay I know all of this.  The part that doesn't work well in my mind is the feel great about yourself, I can do it attitude.  I absolutely HATE to run.  I find every excuse in the book NOT to run.  Every step hurts me.  Well, that's because I don't do it!  The times that I have run regularly I have gotten through the painful part and actually got to a point where it was mildly enjoyable, enough so that I looked forward to a daily jog.  Once I am out of the running/jogging mood for a while it is like pulling teeth to get me back into it.  In Read more »

Role of Positive & Negative Feedback w/Athletes

Interestingly, while coaching my team during a team volleyball camp at Gonzaga University I found myself profoundly reminded of how both verbal and non-verbal communication can provide positive reinforcement which can play a role in improving intrinsic motivation.  Read more »

Exam 1 Closes Monday

Monday is the last day to take Exam 1. Once the exam closes, your results will be available to view. This week I will also be grading your work for the first half of the term. All of the paper drafts have feedback provided on them now. After taking the exam, it is very important to focus on this paper and get a lot of work completed in the next week.

positive and negative reinforcement

Effective reinforcement can work in two different ways.  One is when a player does something well, like hustle after a loose ball you give them positive reinforcement.  Positive reinforcement could be a pat on the shoulder or an activity reinforcer like rewarding them with playing a game instead of a running drill.  After receiving a positive reinforcement players are more likely to repeat that positive behavior.


second, if a player does not hustle after a loose ball, coaches may punish the team with a running drill.  Players will try not to repeat that behavior.

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Aggression in Sports

Aggression in Sports

In 1995, during an NBA game which featured the Houston Rockets vs. the Portland Trail Blazers an incident happened between a Houston player and a Portland fan.  This incident which has been one of the more popular displays of aggression in sports over the last decade and a half stands out to me because I was actually at the game and witnessed the incident first hand. Read more »

Performance Anxiety

Performance Anxiety

When dealing with athletes who are experiencing performance anxiety, it is important that coaches understand what anxiety is, what causes it, and solid ways to help athletes deal with their anxiety and most importantly overcome the anxiety so they are able to perform once again at the top of their game. Read more »

Draft 1 Worries

I'm rather worried right now about class progress on your papers. Many of you have not submitted your draft yet. I've had many years of experience with students writing this paper, and when progress is slow like this usually the end result is a poor scoring paper by the final deadline. Time is very important in the gathering and requesting of research articles. Furthermore, this is a writing intensive class and writing takes time with the review and feedback process we are doing. I expect drafts to be presented right away. Also, make sure you move the state of your paper to "Needs Review" so that I know it is ready for my feedback. 

Week 4, Exam 1 is Coming

By now you should all have your first draft presented for your Review of Literature. Make sure that you have it marked as "needs review." I'll be giving feedback directly on your paper sometime this week. This is an important week to be preparing for Exam 1, which opens this weekend. I haven't seen much practice quizzing yet, which is an early indicator of poor performance on Exam 1. I expect you all to turn this around in the next few days, and get a lot of practice with quizzes as you prepare for the first exam. I would also like to see more work coming through on our group page, but the most important priority right now is the exam preparation. 

Performance Anxiety

The biggest factor of anxiety during sports is preparation. If you don't practice, then how will you know how to perform a task during competition? Furthermore, just practicing a skill will not make an athlete more competent in a skill, you have to practice the skill correctly with proper fundamentals. As Vince Lombardi states "Practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect". Preparation is the single most important factor that influences performance anxiety during competition. Replicating some situations during practice can be difficult, here are a three techniques that I use during games that I feel are affective. Read more »

Article: Nature vs Nurture for Sport Greatness

A colleague shared this article with me, that is an excerpt from a new book. It has some excellent dialog examining the discussion surrounding what it takes to be a great athlete: natural genics or the way you develop.


Learned Helplessness

2 years ago I was hired as the girls basketball coach at our local high school, the school had a history of losing seasons (the previous season went 3-18) and in a 4 year period  had gone 12-74. Lucky for me I was able to help in during summer basketball before I was hired, this enabled me to watch the girls play and get to know them before I was hired. Another thing that really helped was before this venture I had been the varsity assistant at another larger school, and they had a history of not producing many wins and after I had left were ranked very high in state and in contention for a couple league titles. I felt that this was my biggest asset as I kind of knew what I was up against, and knew what would work and what would not.  Read more »

performance anxiety

One problem with performance anxiety is that the anxiety can produce to much muscle tension which in turn can diminish performance.  Muscle tension can slow your movements and make them less coordinated.  

Techniques to reduce anxiety - Breath control, this is one of the easiest and effective ways to control tension and anxiety.   Proper breathing, take a deep breath, imagine filling the bottom of your lungs up with air, than the middle and finally the top part of you lungs.  Hold it in for a few seconds and then slowly release you breath.

Progressive relaxation,   This involves tensing and relaxing certain muscles.  The idea is to learn what muscles are tense, and then to relax that muscle.  This will help with reducing anxiety. Read more »

Next Week: Draft 1 Review of Research Paper

By the end of next week, you should all have Draft 1 prepared of your paper. It is very important to be making early progress with your paper, in order to be on pace to have a presentable paper later in the term. The first draft should only review 1-2 articles, according to the paper guidelines in the Apply section of your Learning Guide.

Sport Psychology Movies List Group Project

I’m sure you’ve all noticed that the link to the sport psychology movies in the “Watching a Sport Psychology Movie” assignment in the Apply section for this class doesn’t work.  Prof. Sather says he is aware of it and has yet to find a useful list elsewhere on the web.  I thought it’d be a worthwhile activity for us to work on a group project creating a sport psychology movie list.  If we all contribute a couple of movies then we should have something useful for our class to use for the “Watching a Sport Psychology Movie” assignment and for future classes if Prof. Sather decides to use it. Read more »


I was recently hired to be the Head Coach of a high school football team. Interestingly, they (we) only won 3 games last year. It is interesting how this class has a direct correlation to my career choices. ;)


I recently read an article in American Football Monthly titled, Dramatic Turnaround: Going from 0-11 to 12-1 in one year. In the article, author Michael Parker interviewed and subsequently outlines the plan that Lawrence County High School (KY) head football coach Luke Salmons implemented when he was hired in 2008 after Lawrence County’s team went 0-11. Read more »

Aggression In Sports

Aggression in Sport


In August of 2009, the University of Oregon football team traveled to Boise, Idaho to take on the Boise State University Broncos.


The day before the game, during a media interview, U of O running back LaGarrette Blount responded to a question in the following manner; “We owe Boise State an ass-whuppin.” His answer was is in response to a question about a rematch with Boise State and avenging an early loss to the Broncos during the 2008 season.

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Watch a Sport Psychology Movie : The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game

           When I watched this movie it instantly became one of my all time favorites and therefore an easy choice for this assignment.  When I think of Michael Oher and his incredible story I am amazed by the adversity he was able to overcome.  I found myself eager to discuss the psychological viewpoint of this movie, yet I was unable to choose just one mental skill.  As I pondered this predicament I decided to discuss two and tie them together.  Read more »

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