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Local sports psychologist: Don’t overdo it

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The so-called simpler time Chris Carr experienced while growing up in Muncie during the 1970s had its good points for the aspiring young athlete.

A boy’s dreams could and frequently did run the gamut through would-be tacklers, against man-to-man defenses and over the hurdles — all before sliding safely into home.

After all, the term “specialization” had yet to enter the sports discussion mainstream.

Currently the Sport and Performance Psychologist and Coordinator for Sport and Performance Psychology at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, Dr. Carr’s many duties include being Team Performance Psychologist for the Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever and Purdue University athletics.

He also coordinates training, supervision and research in sport and performance psychology while providing individual counseling.

Carr understands the generational differences between his and today’s era of young athlete.

Among his concerns is the year-round training high school athletes often are required to do. This includes what is promoted as summer break and the fact Indiana includes only a one-week moratorium.

“I have no problem with the kid having a dream. But sometimes you see the parents living vicariously through that. What it does is lead to a lot of unhealthy social comparison. When a family can’t take a vacation because of sports, there’s something wrong with that,” Dr. Carr said.

“I think the reality of sport is so different, and the culture of sport is different. We have specialization. You have many more sports that are available and an increased number of teams in those sports.”

“I do think today’s athletes have better skill development, but at the same time we were really taught fundamentals,” Dr. Carr added. “The fact I was cut from my baseball team my seventh- and eighth-grade years, even though it hurt at the time, taught me the value of resilience and re-establishing your goals.”

Carr graduated from Muncie North High School in 1978 before playing football at Wabash College for then-Little Giants coach Stan Parrish as an offensive linemen. A starter his junior and senior seasons, Carr blew out his knee in the 1981 Monon Bell Game, a 21-14 home loss to bitter rival DePauw.

He went on to become a graduate assistant football coach at Ball State University while working toward his Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.

Dr. Carr appreciates the number of choices young athletes have today and the positive impact they can bring.

“I really know the element of enjoyment of the sport. That’s where you plant the seed of love of sport,” Dr. Carr said. “That’s the internal motivator.”

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