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Head In The Game

Plainview resident Dr. Steven Frierman plays mind games.

Everyday, the Hofstra University professor employs his knowledge of sports and the study of the mind to help athletes stay focused, improve their performance and avoid slumps — or scratch and claw their way out of a slump, if necessary.

“The idea of working with athletes and teach them how to use their mind is profoundly fascinating to me,” said Frierman, who has lived in Plainview for 13 years. “What motivates them to achieve their goals and what stops them and how to get them to enjoy the process.”

Frierman is the sports psychologist and professor of Health Studies and Kinesiology at Hofstra University. He is also sport psychology editor of American Football Quarterly (AFQ) and on the board, which included professional football greats Bill Walsh and Gene Washington. He also served on the panel of experts which included NFL and collegiate football coaches and participated in two conferences for AFQ which provided continuing education credit for high school football coaches and worked with a few collegiate football players.

The professor, who has studied sports psychology for 22 years, authored Commit to be Fit: Now and Forever, and is currently writing a second book about performance enhancement strategies for sports and exercise.  His research interests in sports include motivation, team dynamics, psychological momentum, performance enhancing substances, and performance enhancement strategies. In exercise, Frierman has focused on the barriers that stop individuals from exercising and living healthy as well as the strategies to overcome these barriers.

“Ninety-nine percent of practice time is spent on the physical aspects of sports,” he said. “No one focuses on the mental aspect because no one knows what to do. Coaches will say things like ‘relax, play in the zone,’ but how do we do that?”

Frierman works to help athletes find “the zone,” deal with mental mistakes, properly build team chemistry and create an “optimal arousal zone,” which refers to the frame of mind an athlete needs to find in order to achieve his or her ultimate goal on the field of play.

He said that when players are not performing up to their ability, it is probably because there is too much nonessential information crowding their psyche and compromising their ability to focus.

“Athletes are referred to me when there is nothing more the coach can do to help them; when it goes beyond the physical realm,” he said. “When athletes are performing at the top of their game, there is nothing in their mind — they are so focused that everything else gets filtered out. When they’re not playing well, there is something distracting them. So we work to kick out the thoughts that don’t belong there.”

Frierman employs anxiety management techniques and teaches concentration skills. He also teaches the athlete about team cohesion and how to accept one’s role on a team, as well as how to differentiate team goals from individual goals.

Team dynamics on any level of sports both important to performance and a complicated influence over performance for the athlete. Frierman spends time dissecting the psychological aspects of why bullying occurs in major sports leagues and the consequences of these harsh teammate-on-teammate actions.

When examining the recent story about a player on the Miami Dolphins leaving the team because of bullying he received from a teammate, Frierman said the alleged bully might have had good intentions, but the victim was not mentally prepared to handle the rigors of the professional football locker room atmosphere.

“Sometimes you have good intentions, but the outcome turns into a disaster,” he said. “I would never condone bullying in sports, it doesn’t belong in any game. But many athletes are told to do this, they are told to toughen the younger players up to get them to fit into a particular style of play. This this cause, it caused more damage than good, mainly because when dealing with behavior, athletes have to be educated.”

And that is where Frierman tries to have an impact. He believes it starts young when kids start playing youth sports. In that sporting world, he believes parents have a responsibility to cheer on their young players; fostering in them a love for activity and a healthy understanding of competition.

“When you ask kids the reason they play, they say because they want to have fun. And winning has nothing to do with having fun,” he said. “The parents job is to support the team. Cheer them on.”


Founded in 1995 by owner Bruce Grossman, the Cultural Arts Playhouse of Plainview is a year round, regional, off-off Broadway-style theater that has produced over 500 productions including educational and touring shows. It is also located in Roslyn Heights and Wantagh.

Named as one of Long Island’s Best Live Theaters, the theater serves more than 20,000 people each year with its professional adult productions, children’s theater performances, and theater education classes for ages 7-18. Artistic Director Tony Frangipane took time out of his busy schedule to talk theater.

There’s no question that Halloween is a holiday for the kids. But what about the kids that can’t enjoy it normally because they have severe allergies? That’s when “The Teal Pumpkin Project” steps in to help.

“The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies – and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all,” said Plainview resident Heather Alberti, whose five year old son, Nathan, has a life threatening allergy to peanuts and tree nuts.


Movie: The Fault in Our Stars

Wednesday, October 29

Free Flu-Vaccines

Thursday, October 30

Family History Workshop

Sunday, November 2


1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller,

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry,

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller,