Warren Wilson College psychology professor Bob Swoap, Ph.D., has been hired to serve as the sport psychologist for the U.S. National table tennis team, helping Olympic athletes survive and thrive during the coronavirus pandemic. Swoap, who is a table tennis player himself, said this is one way he can respond with compassion to what’s happening in the world. Swoap is working with the athletes through weekly remote meetings that focus on emotional support and coping strategies for these challenging times.
Coping with the stresses of training in isolation, along with the uncertainty of when, and if, the Olympics will happen, poses unique challenges for elite athletes. “These athletes, who are so driven, are like tigers in cages right now,” Swoap said. “I think it’s really important to support anyone and everyone who is struggling during this difficult situation. This is a chance for me to connect with athletes who have lofty aspirations, and to help them move toward their goals.”
Swoap’s involvement with USA Table Tennis began when he was in graduate school at the University of Florida and held a one-year internship with the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. The connections he made at that time led to this most recent opportunity. Swoap’s knowledge of table tennis, and his background in sport psychology, make him uniquely qualified to help athletes develop the mental tools they need to succeed at the highest levels of their sport, despite the coronavirus. “Supporting young people during this time is something I really care about,” Swoap said.
At Warren Wilson, Swoap teaches and conducts research in clinical and sport psychology. He’s also a licensed clinical psychologist, using evidence-based interventions with patients experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma and other forms of psychological distress.
Above story excerpted from Warren Wilson College press release. For more info, click here.