Most athletes of any kind will tell you that mentality is a large part of your performance and one woman coaching many through the mental games of the Olympics lives right here in Houston.
Sports psychologist Lennie Waite knows better than most how mental health is an important element to being in your best shape.
“It really wasn’t that long ago that I was one of these athletes going through similar things, obviously during a non-pandemic time,” said Waite as she explained that she ran track during the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Waite is a full-time sports psychologist. She said she currently works with just about every U.S. track and field athlete, as well as six others headed to the Olympics and 20 more down to the high school and college level.
Waite said her service was in high demand once the pandemic delayed the games in Tokyo.
“For women who wanted to start a family or for people who were planning to transition just because it was that time in their life and then delaying that decision by a year was hard,” she said.
However, her specialty isn’t limited to dealing with defeat. She helps those with their heart set on getting to the Olympics, winning a medal or just striving for their personal best to overcome performance fears and anxiety or building focus and support groups.
“If you’re just under a lot of general life stress it’s going to really negatively impact your way to train at a high-level day in and day out,” Waite said. “Also, relationships in general, having a really supportive coach/athlete relationship, a really supportive network of people around you as important. So, some people don’t have that and helping them kind of recognize who they should surround themselves with and how they should change their environment is important for helping to maximize what they’re going to do in their performance domain.”
She said consistently the advice she has to remind people of is to do what works best for them.
“Don’t try to match what got your competitor that gold metal or what your best friend is doing because that’s not you,” Waite said.