Podcast Ep 65: Dr. Karen Cogan, Senior Sport Psychologist at the US Olympic Committee

Today’s guest is Dr. Karen Cogan, a licensed psychologist who currently serves as the sports psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee. Working out of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Karen is currently responsible for acrobat and combat sports.  

In this episode, Matt and Karen discussed her relationships with Olympic athletes and how the USOC grouped athletes. The two also talked about mental health in athletics and how people have been coping with the changes caused by the pandemic.

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Show Notes:

3:00 – Athlete Relationships.  “When I first started, a lot of people didn’t know what sports psychology was and also had this impression that I was going to lay them on a couch and mess with their mind. Coaches would say, ‘I don’t want you messing with my athletes’ mind.’”

13:30 – Grouping Athletes & Utilizing Resources. “I have acrobat and combat sports, which seem very different and they are… but both sports were put together because they are both pretty short-acting. A dive takes 5 seconds. A wrestling round takes 3 minutes.”

24:00 – Mental Health in Athletics. “Athletes want to talk about different things depending on where we are within the 4-year Olympic cycle. As we get closer to the Olympic Games, there is an emphasis on performance and being ready to go. And prior to that, the life issues tend to be more prevalent. But, despite what time of year it is, there always is some sort of personal component woven into everything.”

34:30 – Global Disruptions & Grieving a Loss. “Often I say, ‘There is nothing I can say that will take that away.’ Because this competition meant so much to you and you didn’t meet your goals, it’s going to feel pretty lousy and it’s probably going to hang on for a while, but let’s talk about that, let’s not have you face this alone.”

46:00 – Resource & Book Recommendations. “UCLA has a Mindful Awareness Research Center and they have free, drop-in meditation sessions every Monday and Thursday.”

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