As a former athlete, I wish I would have known about Brainspotting

By T.C. Jones

I remember the game when everything fell apart. I was a junior in college and called in from the bullpen in the 9th inning in a game that was to determine the conference title. The previous pitcher had just walked the bases loaded before our coach pulled him and called on me to enter the game. There was only one out, but my team was up by four runs.

I’d been in tense situations on the mound before, but this one carried extra pressure. And this time, I cracked. That evening on the mound, my mind and body betrayed me. After I walked in the first runner, I could feel my arms trembling and sweat poured from my palms. Three walks later and a hit into the outfield gap, I was walking off the mound not only defeated as a team but also defeated as an athlete.

As a pitcher, I never really recovered after that. I lost my confidence, and as all pitchers know, confidence is a must-have. The next year, during my senior season, I never again approached the level of play I produced the year before. I needed a way to work through the anxiety I was feeling to gain my confidence back. Unfortunately, I never found it.

Flash forward 15 years. I was still experiencing general anxiety that extended past sports and affecting other parts of my life from family to work. And on hinds-site, I realized that general anxiety most definitely affected my sports performance as a young adult.

That’s when I found Brainspotting — a therapeutic process used to remove mental blocks and improve performance. Led through the process by Dr. Tom Rohrer, I was about to find my “Brainspot” (a place in my field of vision where I could access a point of calm and clarity and examine mental blocks). It was through these simple sessions I found the strength to examine situations in my life which brought on anxiety.

When Dr. Rohrer mentioned he also leads Brainspotting sessions to improve sports performance, I decided to focus my next session on revisiting that experience on the pitcher’s mound years ago. As I began my session, I was surprised by how strong and vivid the memory was, and as I examined it, I even began to sweat and tremble a bit. But once I found my brain spot, I was able to face it. In a short time, the anxiety of that troublesome night was lifted, and with Dr. Rohrer’s guidance, I was able to access a place of calm — another Brainspot in my field of vision — and even a separate spot that us athletes call “the zone.”

Now I think back to what could have been if I’d only known about Brainspotting while I was a collegiate baseball player. I would have had a tool to help me leap the mental block that terrible game had on my psyche. I could have used this strategy to refined my confidence.