Mind Over Matter
Dr. Dave Schroerlucke Launches Mental Performance Consultancy
Dr. Dave Schroerlucke wants to help you perform better under pressure. After years of watching people struggle to overcome performance anxiety, he realized that performance pressure is simply part and parcel of the human condition. Rather than trying to help people avoid stressful situations, he has designed systematic methods for confronting them head on.
In January 2019, Schroerlucke launched Ripe Minds, a sport and performance psychology consultancy that deals in the business of what he calls mindset training.
“At Ripe Minds, my mission is to help individuals, teams and organizations develop mindsets that promote self-awareness and optimal performance, particularly within the context of high-stakes or stressful environments,” Schroerlucke says.
Simply put, Schroerlucke wants to help people achieve success under stress.
Schroerlucke’s lifelong fascination with the mental side of performance led him to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology, with a specialization in sport and performance psychology. His doctoral dissertation, “Choke Artists and Clutch Performers”, involved a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on performance under pressure.
“The goal of the review was to distill what we’ve learned through decades of research down to the essential psychological traits and skills that distinguish people who excel in high-stakes situations from those that falter,” he says.
The idea of focusing on the effects of performance pressure came to Schroerlucke over the course of 15-plus years as a math educator, during which he developed a special interest in helping students who are plagued by math anxiety.
“Many people suffer from a debilitating fear of math that can be a major deterrent to pursuing a career in science and technology, and, for many students, a huge obstacle to earning a degree of any kind,” Schroerlucke says.
Having created professional development courses to help teachers better understand and combat math anxiety, Schroerlucke has become a recognized expert on the topic and has been asked to share his insights at national conferences for math education.
Schroerlucke’s experience in academics allowed him to pinpoint ways in which he can extend his practice to a variety of other performance domains, including sports, performing arts and business. Ultimately, he wants to bring the benefits of performance psychology training to everyone and dispel the myth that systematic mental training is only for world-class athletes, rock stars and Fortune 500 CEOs.
“At the end of the day, we are all performers,” he says. “In life you are constantly being asked to deliver results, whether by a boss, a customer or a significant other, and your ability to meet the demands of life is largely the product of your mindset and mental preparation.”
To distinguish himself from motivational speakers and self-help gurus, Schroerlucke stresses that the Ripe Minds approach is not based on trite platitudes and hackneyed slogans, but instead requires a disciplined commitment to a specific course of training.
“To get the most out of your capacities, you will need to ground your vision and mission in something that provides durable intrinsic motivation, such as a sense of personal meaning or life purpose,” he says. “Once that commitment is in place, we will work together to develop a psychological framework that will allow you to effectively allocate your attention and energy during both the preparation and performance phases of training.”
So how does it work, exactly? In its boiled-down form, the Ripe Minds system employs a two-step program that is personally directed and implemented by Schroerlucke.
“Step one is guiding (clients) through the deep inner work required to create a personal philosophy and coherent vision of personal excellence,” Schroerlucke says. “Step two is implementing a suite of practical, evidence-based strategies that provide a foundation for mental performance that is robust enough to stand up under stress. This type of mental training involves cultivating a collection of mental attitudes – things like confidence, optimism and mental toughness; habits – things like mindfulness and goal-setting; and skills – things like mental imagery and positive self-talk.”
Schroerlucke is quick to caution against viewing his program as a one-size-fits-all endeavor.
“There is no secret sauce or silver bullet that will inoculate you against performance pressure,” he says.
Because every individual or team comes with a unique set of circumstances, the process always begins with a collaborative assessment aimed at clarifying the goals and expectations for the consulting relationship. The mental training program is then tailored to the client’s needs and customized.
“Obviously, there’s no owner’s manual or trail map available for your particular journey, but there are certainly some familiar landmarks and helpful signposts available to guide us along the path to performance excellence,” Schroerlucke says.
What makes Schroerlucke’s methodology so potent, he says, is its assimilation of a wider body of philosophy and psychology. The Ripe Minds overarching framework is what Schroerlucke calls integrative, in that it brings together evidence-based psychological skills from modern performance psychology, as well as insights taken from both Eastern contemplative traditions and Western existential psychology.
“This integration of cutting-edge science and time-tested wisdom will provide a template for fashioning a mindset that is anchored in a disciplined yet playful commitment to the lifelong journey of self-discovery and personal growth,” Schroerlucke says.
As of March 2020, Schroerlucke and Ripe Minds will officially become part of Mandala House, a community outpatient mental health center located in the Louisville Highlands neighborhood. Mandala House offers access to a wide range of mental health services including psychotherapy, psychiatry, psychological assessment, and neurofeedback treatment under one roof. As a licensed clinical psychologist, Schroerlucke will split his time at Mandala House between providing psychotherapy services and developing a comprehensive sport and performance psychology training program.