Dr. Joan’s Sports Psych Talk: Balancing the life of pro and coach
Dr. Joan’s Sports Psych Talk-
The intensity of Shelley (Evans) Olds emerges as she hits every race with 100% commitment. Velo News branded her as the “five foot assassin.” Not only has she become a successful international competitor, but she is also a coach for the local Whole Athlete training team in San Anselmo. Although a relative newcomer to cycling, she has accomplished much. Her husband introduced her to cycling just four years ago. In her first year, Shelley raced road, track, tandem, and mountain biking. A star soccer player in college, Shelley quickly transferred her athletic talents to cycling. She declared, “An athlete is who I am to the core.” As a passionate, disciplined, and competitive athlete, she is able to do something special; she competes and coaches.
Shelley’s toughness and growth as a competitor has been repeatedly seen this season. She began her successful streak by winning the Tour of New Zealand in February. At the World Championships, she managed to do a face plant and was back racing only two days later. She describes herself as a driven, focused and directed person who enjoys being part of a community as her Peanut Butter & Co./Twenty Twelve team provides.
When speaking to her team mechanic Tim Brennan (pictured with Shelley at left), I learned that Shelley is always totally prepared and tackles everything with precision. With her positive attitude, she also enjoys the whole experience. Her approach has enabled her to accomplish numerous racing successes this season. Several of her accomplishments include: winning the gold medal in the road race at the Pan Am Games, helping teammate Mara Abbott win the Giro Donne multi-stage race (Giro D’Italia for women) and winning the final stage herself, and winning the U.S. women’s criterium title. By winning the criterium (a race in which the competitors do multiple laps on a set course), Shelley guaranteed herself a place on the national team for the next world championships in Australia according to Velo News. Shelley continues to progress and build positive racing experiences. Her team and personal long-term goal of making the Olympic cycling team in 2012 appears within reach.
Shelley carries over her positive outlook to coaching. She works with a wide variety of clients according to Dario Fredrick, founder and head coach of Whole Athlete. Her clientele includes athletes ranging from highly competitive regional racers to beginners learning to ride for fitness and fun. Her high client retention speaks to her ability to connect and form solid relationships. At home, Shelley communicates with her clients in person or via the phone or internet. No matter where she is in the world, Shelley always makes a point to connect with her athletes. She has to be careful not to take on more clients then she can handle at any one time.
“It’s only fair to them that I am able to give them all the attention they need, said Shelley, ” I take pride in being easily accessible and communicating well with each and every athlete.”
She works hard to balance coaching and competition, making sure there is enough time for all.
Shelley’s strength lies in her communication skills, openness to new ideas, and 100% commitment to her endeavors. Her balance between competing and coaching is further assisted by her value on community. She calls her supporters “my circle of people.” Her husband has helped her unconditionally. He is her rock. Shelley’s “circle” involves a long list of people, including her mother, stepfather, brother, everyone associated with her team, and many others. Shelley’s sporting life exemplifies the value women place on relationships providing a vital foundation for women and their athletic successes.
(Photos provided by Dr. Joan Steidinger)
Dr. Joan Steidinger is a sports and clinical psychologist with offices in Mill Valley and San Francisco. She has been practicing sports psychology with clients ranging from recreational to pro athletes for the past 17 years.
As an athlete herself, she has been a competitive ultrarunner, Ride & Tie competitor, and ultradistance cyclist.