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Doctor Blake
Doctor Blake, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 146
Experience:  Ph.D., Ed.S., NCSP Clinical Psychologist; 15+ years of experience; dual licensure
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My son is 14 he is a very good middle distance runner and as

Customer Question

My son is 14 he is a very good middle distance runner and as an Under 13 he was number 1 in the country for both the 1500m and the 800m. For the last 6 months he has struggled with racing. His training is excellent but put him in a race situation and he just cant do it.   He has had two good races recently, one was a PB classic so he wasn't really racing anyone but himself and the other one was a qualifing race which he executed really well. When it can to the final he was running really well the pace was well within his capability and then after 700m of the 1500m race he fell off the the back of the pack and couldn't keep up the pace. He finished the race and was really upset and just says that he cant race any more. He doesnt know what switches in his mind half way through. Do you have any suggestions?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Doctor Blake replied 7 years ago.

Good morning and thanks for your question.

It's clear from your description that your son demonstrates some exceptional talent(s). I'm glad that you reward him for his effort (not just his accomplishments) and clearly want the best for him.

I also appreciate that you are writing with your initial questions to a mental health forum here at JA. It would appear that your son does not have any medical reasons for his declining performance (based upon what you indicate), but it might be good to be 100% certain that there are no physiological reasons behind this recent change.

Once you feel comfortable that there are no medical/physical reasons for this change in performance - I would encourage you to seek out the advice of a specialist in this area. That is, a licensed mental health professional in the area of SPORTS MEDICINE likely seems a much better source of information and intervention than a traditional Pediatric Psychologist or Psychiatrist. At least, if you had brought your son to see me, that's what I would recommend.

(Simply put, there appear to be some performance anxiety issues at foot here. Working through that anxiety with a licensed mental health professional who KNOWS SPORTS and KNOWS ATHLETES makes much more sense than one who does not.)

I regret that, being a Yank, I can't refer you to someone there in Britain with whom I've worked. I *can* suggest you explore: or or even Stephen Bull's book "Sport Psychology: A Self-help Guide" as a first step. Your son's coach might also know of some... or possibly at the local children's hospital or university.

In short, your report suggests that your son has exceptional talent. Many people with exceptional talents also have exceptional needs to keep those talents top notch. I would encourage you to consider working with a professional with unique knowledge into the mind and body of an elite athlete. A Sports Psychologist would be an ideal choice.

Thanks. I hope this was helpful.

* FEEDBACK ENCOURAGED. Please contact me prior to leaving negative feedback so that we can resolve the matter. I am eager to work with all JA clients to provide them with useful/helpful answers. Thanks again.