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The Psychology Of The Gifted Athlete

There are thousands of parents in the Hicksville area who have a secret hope that their young girl or boy may be the next Tiger Woods, Taylor Swift or Michael Jordan. And as a sport psychologist I know the amount of money these families spend on this dream. It is not unusual for a family to invest upwards of 30 to 40 thousand dollars every year on things like lessons, training, coaching, tutors, equipment, gym time and travel teams. And I understand why they do this. Organized sport is a safe pastime for their kids and it keeps them away from trouble. In addition sports are very exciting both for the kids and the watchful parents. And a more practical reason for the investment of time and money in a child’s sport or artistic activity is that it may lead to scholarship money in college. Given the exorbitant cost of a college education this becomes a crucial issue.

So the question that begs to be answered is this: Is the investment of time and money and energy worth it? Is your child talented enough and impassioned enough to benefit from this support? This is a legitimate and worthwhile issue to explore.

Over the years I have worked with many gifted young athletes and performers and here is what I have learned about them. Some get scholarships and some do become professionals but only if they have the following traits.

1) They appear to be obsessed with their sport or their art. They will winningly spend long hours practicing by themselves. The future pro will show us that they like to play their sport or art form up to six hours per day while the normal kid will spend about 6 hours per week on their game.

2) They have an extreme ability to focus on their sport and concentrate for long hours without pausing.

3) They are willing to practice in isolation and without the need of company. Pete Sampras, the greatest tennis player who ever held a racket would hit balls against his basement wall for hours from the time he was three years of age all by himself without the need for company.

4) These kids tend to be very sensitive and ethical and empathic to others and they are often shy.

5) They will naturally be perfectionistic and hard on themselves, demanding greater and greater excellence. The singer Madonna is known for her incredible demandingness and need to perform to perfection. So was Larry Bird the basketball star.

6) They are ambitious, understand they have ability and hold fast to a dream of future success. As a child Tiger Woods placed a picture of Jack Nicklaus on his wall and set his goal on beating Nicklaus’ record of winning 18 majors.

7) The gifted athlete or performer tends toward depression given their extreme sense of perfectionism and tendency to be isolated and introspective.

So if you have a youngster in the home who loves fencing or soccer or cartoon illustration or golf or tennis or guitar you may or may not have a gifted child. And if they demonstrate the traits listed above they may in fact be headed to the top and you can be assured that your investment of time and money will be worth it.

Dr. Tom Ferraro is a noted sport, business psychologist and journalist located in Mid-Nassau County and can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

News

Get out your needle and thread, glue gun, beads, and paint. Creative Cups, the popular, life-affirming fund raising event of the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support Program, is back. This is the fourth time that Creative Cups has happened on Long Island and allows artists, breast cancer survivors, their friends, family members and others to use originality and creativity to transform ordinary bras into works of art. Creative Cups celebrates the lives of those living with breast cancer and those we have lost to this terrible disease. All are invited to participate by creating an “art bra” or becoming a sponsor.

Fran Mulholland from Hicksville along with her friend Emilia Goncalves decorated a bra for last year’s Creative Cups. Their bra was themed “Celebrating Another Birthday.”

Linda Doyle knows how to make a good hot dog. And she doesn’t need a big fancy kitchen or shiny barbeque grill to do it. Rather, Doyle’s famous franks are served out of a small trailer on the side of S. Broadway.

For the past 16 years, passers-by coming along S. Broadway looking for a delicious, cheap bite to eat for lunch or a pre-dinner snack have been stopping by Linda’s Hot Dog Boutique, a simple white trailer adorned by a flag, yellow umbrella and two signs.


Sports

Hicksville High School senior Kyle Carroll recently participated in the prestigious Blue Grey Super Combine in Canton OH. Over 7,000 high school football players are invited to combines sponsored by Blue Grey Football throughout the country. Carroll was recognized for his overall scores and abilities during the one on one drills and was honored to have been chosen as one of 140 athletes invited to the Super Combine at the Football Hall of Fame. From there, a select few will be invited to play in the Blue Grey All-America Bowls in December in Texas and in January in Florida.  

The Super Combine in Canton took place on Fawcett Field at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The combine featured some of the top football prospects from around the country. Carroll fit seamlessly into the drills as he displayed impressive work with fast feet and hip turns as well as skilled ball handling ability.

Madeline Huffman, a fourth grade student at Our Lady of Mercy School in Hicksville, recently became the New York State Free Throw Champion in the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Competition, 9 Year Old Girls Division at the United States Military Academy, West Point.

Huffman’s journey to the state championship began at her home parish, Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church in January. The local qualifier was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Joseph F. Lamb Council #5723. Boys and girls ages 9 through 14 competed, each receiving three warm up shots and 15 free throw attempts.


Calendar

Erik’s Reptile Edventure

July 30

Soccer For A Cause

August 2

Blood Drive

August 2



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
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