Using her experience as a sports psychology coach and a positive psychology educator, Lani Silversides, Instructor in Math, recently published her book “Unstoppable: A Mental Training Guide for Fueling Performance.”
“Whether you are a dancer, into theater, in your math class, or in your sport, many of us strive to give our best performance. To do that it’s not all about our skills and talent and ability. So much of it is mental,” wrote Silversides in an email to The Phillipian.
After taking several sport psychology graduate classes, including one at the Boston University and another at UC Berkeley through a foreign program in Australia, Silversides has been equipped to educate students of ages K-12 in mindfulness. Through her book, she wishes to spread knowledge of positive psychology, which is the science behind maintaining a healthy mental state.
“All of this work has been in an effort to combine what is essentially three fields – sport psychology, positive psychology, and mindfulness – into one space to help people understand what they can do to be at their best,” wrote Silversides.
Having finished the book shortly before being diagnosed with breast cancer, Silversides was able to apply what she had learned and adopt a more positive outlook on the disease and her treatment. According to Silversides, the book influenced the way she coped with her diagnosis.
“Having all of that research and understanding really served as grounding principles for me and my family as how we approached everything. So I used the phrase ‘I get to go to chemotherapy treatment’ as opposed to ‘I have to go to treatment today,’” said Silversides.
In addition to publishing “Unstoppable,” as a track coach, Silversides has also been facilitating meetings every Thursday with the track team to encourage self-reflection on campus.
“It’s a chance for the whole team to sort of gather after the meet and reflect on how the meet went and congratulate athletes who did really well and PR’d or just had a really great day personally,” said Mackenzie Hess, Coach of Andover Track & Field.
Silversides has also incorporated mindfulness lessons into each meeting.
“I really liked what we did last week…we talked about sort of taking a moment and being with yourself in that moment… whether it was a moment where you were tying your shoe, or a moment where you were taking a sip of water,” said Hess.
Despite being a recent addition to practice, students like Owen Glover ’19, Captain of Indoor Track & Field, have already begun obtaining lessons from the mindfulness sessions.
“We talked about visualization techniques, which a lot of professional athletes use, and we watched a couple videos. One of them was an Olympic skier, who would spend hours on end visualizing every twist and turn of her jump before she even gets on the ski cliff, and that’s something that any athlete can do to try to help them out before a race or anything,” said Glover.
Silversides hopes that everyone gains something from her book, whether it is useful to them in their current daily life or in the future.
“My goal is to expose them all to a little bit of something each week in hopes that everyone might take one small nugget from this,” said Silversides.
As Silversides explains, members of the track team and the coaching staff take the skills mentioned in “Unstoppable” and the team meetings beyond sport as well.
Rebecca Hession, Coach for Track & Field, said, “I would say that mental preparation and having techniques in your training to help you perform, and to be ready to take on unexpected parts of what it means to train and set goals is so important to any goal setting you have.”
Myra Bhathena ’22, a member of the track team, believes that “Unstoppable” reflects Silversides’s character as a person and a teacher. Bhathena found the exercises in the book to be particularly helpful.
Bhathena said, “As I have quickly figured out, her book… is a very interactive book. There are places for you to write down your daily accomplishments, spaces for you to doodle, boxes to check once you’ve taken healthy actions…This book is a clear reflection to Coach Silversides herself, she is encouraging, uplifting, and very knowledgeable.”
While “Unstoppable” addresses many of its concepts in terms of athletics, Silversides does not confine the concepts of her book to only sports.
“In the math classroom, I could see when kids came in with a mindset of ‘not being a math student’ or ‘being bad at math’ and it was really about a mindset/mental shift for them more than anything else. It’s all connected,” wrote Silversides in an email to The Phillipian.