Mental Skills Training – Dr. Ken Hodge and Critical Action Response Strategies


Flying Lizard Race Team Pit Stop

Podium’s Podcast of the Week – An interview with New Zealand’s Ken Hodge

by Stephen E. Walker, PhD, CC-AASP

New developments in the use of achronyms to help athlete’s remember key focusing routines during competition have gained acceptance in recent years.  Dr. Sarah Castillo from West Point’s Center for Performance Enhancement is known for W.I.N. – a drill she’s done with Army’s basketball team calling for the immediate shift in focus to “whats important now.”  She uses the drill several times during the season to teach each player “how” to make a quick mental shift through transitions on the court.  The drill calls for the team to announce on cue – their immediate point of focus. Every time there is a change in possession, a score, a mistake, or a turnover – her whistle results in the verbal announcement of each shift in focus….which often sounds like the rapid descriptions offered up by a play-by-play announcer….only the play-by-play is coming from each player on the court as they yell their personal “task at hand” in real time.  WIN has a place amongst the mental skills taught in the Army.  So does CARS – amongst athletes and teams that work with Dr. Ken Hodge, one of New Zealand’s top sport psychologists.

Hodge has presented research in a multitude of seminars internationally and has pioneered his technique of “Critical Action Response Strategies” while working with Rugby teams especially.  As a key resource to New Zealand’s Olympic teams, Hodge has found a special niche with CARS.  Is it any wonder much of his work has recently drawn him into the wildly popular emergence of professional motor sports.  Hodge specializes in training pit crews using the CARS technique and he is thoroughly at home in either environment.

Don’t be misguided by the acronym’s simplicity.  As Hodge explains, the process is systematically and sequentially taught in series with multiple repetitions.  The drills are practiced frequently, a requirement if the teams are to master the skill.  Enjoy listening to our interview with Ken Hodge as he teaches us about CARS and its application amongst highly functioning teams.  As you can tell he’s having a great time working in either sport. Hodge is also a faculty member in sports sciences at the University of Otago and well known consultant amongst New Zealand’s Olympians.  I hope you enjoy listening and learning from him as much as I did.

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Click here to listen to the podcast:  Ken Hodge – Critical Action Response Strategies CARS

2 thoughts on “Mental Skills Training – Dr. Ken Hodge and Critical Action Response Strategies

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