May 19, 2009

Why goalies are so...odd...?

Practice makes perfect: Are athletes prone to OCD?

Ten sports stars and their bizarre pre-game rituals

I'd said in a blog a while back about how the Tampa Bay Lightning needed a good sports psychologist, and I got a few people ask me if there was such a thing. I found that to be odd, but whatever. I suppose people generally don't want to be thought of as crazy, and athletes are no exception. The thing is, tho, is that the average person already considers most athletes to already be at least a little crazy. So an athlete (or a team) talking to a sports psychologist actually makes sense to the average fan with little to no social stigma attached.

The obsessive-compulsive disorder (or OCD) also makes sense. Most fans when reading this will realize that. Again, this has no stigma attached. Sometimes, people perceived as talented get off pretty easy when it comes to social issues that many other people struggle with. And this is definitely one of those cases.

People who aren't high performance athletes are stigmatized for having OCD. And they're pretty embarrassed about it, too. Which is silly since it's a pretty prevalent problem. Actually, one of my sisters has OCD - but she's also mildly autistic, too, and the two almost always go hand-in-hand. Still, once it becomes widely known that many athletes have OCD, or may have OCD, less stigma will be attached to those non-athletes who have it. So that's a good thing.

A person without OCD will typicallly have a set routine, but have no problem if something interupts that routine. They won't freak out, and they won't have problems playing a game if an interuption happens. They'll just go on their way doing what they regularly do without giving it a second's thought. They might joke about the distruption throwing them off if things happen to go wrong, but they don't actually believe it. And they'll change things up periodically, just because they can. It's typically relaxed and no big deal.

A person with OCD tends to be pretty rigid when it comes to their set routine. Things have to be a certain way, and that way always or else it'll upset them. And if that routine is screwed up somehow, then they're convinced that things won't go well. In severe cases, it can be completely debilitating. In very mild cases, it can cause some worry or anxiousness, but the individual is still able to carry out whatever it is they're supposed to be doing.

We've all heard of athletes who have had some odd little rituals. Hockey goaltenders and baseball players generally tend to be the most well-known. But the people who have it participate in all kinds of sports. The important part is recognizing it for what it is so it can be managed - just as you'd do with any other disorder. Awareness is half the battle.

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