Athletics / Community

She Sails Presents: Sports and Performance Psychology with Eleanor Fazio ’21

On April 30, 2021, Dana Hall hosted its first completely virtual She Sails, featuring presentations from alumnae and current students. Ellie Fazio ‘21 hosted a session showcasing sports and performance psychology. As a dancer, Ellie has had a lot of experience with the effects that psychology can have on sports performance. Through her presentation, Ellie revealed the complex relationship between sports and psychology. 

Ellie defined sports psychology as “the study of an athlete’s or team’s behavior in the sport. In particular how psychological factors affect performance.” She categorized the psychological factors as psychological orientation, social psychological orientation, and cognitive and behavioral orientation.  

Ellie asked viewers of the live stream to consider their experiences in sports and the time that they devoted to their sport, including training, preparation, and specifically the time they took to mentally prepare before a performance or competition. Ms. Elizabeth Connelly, Senior Associate Director of Admissions Communication Coordinator, reflected, “When I played ice hockey in college, I trained for two or more hours a day. I had rituals, including stretching, listening to music, taping my stick, that helped with my mental preparation, but that’s about it. It was very important, but they took a backseat to the physical preparation.” Many students had similar responses, that psychology was part of their preparation but always took a backseat to physical preparation. 

Ellie shared her experience of battling infectious mononucleosis before a performance, recalling, “I had been down on myself because I was not feeling my best, and that negativity really affected me and my performance, and because of that it wasn’t my best performance.” 

However, she now uses skills she has learned related to sports psychology to improve her athletic performance. Ellie cited her most valuable mental skills as confidence, visualization, goal setting, motivation, and concentration. She also states that while these are the mental skills that she utilizes most, the skill set people use will vary from person to person. 

Visualization is a skill that Ellie recommended for positivity, which often translates to positive performance results. She said that visualization has helped her performances and also improved her self-confidence.  

Ellie closed by sharing her motivations behind her love of dance. She said, “Dance inspires me through the joy and gratification it brings. I have learned that inspiration can come from anywhere, even from just dancing and singing around the kitchen.” As a senior, Ellie noted that, “My motivation is especially high this year knowing this is my last year dancing with this group of people.”

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