Shout Out: Holly Katz, sports psychology expert

Holly Katz, a Deerfield resident of more than two decades, is a sports psychology expert and high performance coach. She said she helps athletes, musicians, performers and test takers thrive under pressure. Katz and her husband Harold have two children, Lori and Jenny. We caught up with Katz at the Starbucks in Deerfield near Waukegan and Deerfield roads.

Holly, what’s the desired outcome of what you do?

I help my clients to overcome freezing and choking under pressure and help them feel confident and calm instead of anxiety and self-doubt.

Tennis anyone?

I’m a former nationally ranked tennis player. I’m more passionate about golf these days.

What did tennis teach you?

I know what it’s like to face intense pressure myself and I know the toll that anxiety and self-doubt have on limiting potential. I’m dedicated to helping people overcome these same barriers.

How are you embracing your career path?

I love it, I absolutely love it! I love working with teens, not only by helping with their pursuit of sports and the arts, but by making a difference for the rest of their lives.

Holly, what’s your shout out to the world?

I feel that compassion for one’s self is key to overcoming performance anxiety. And if compassion and kindness were obvious in the world in general, we’d all feel so much healthier, happier and connected. Compassion and kindness is key. It’s my underlying mission of what I do. It’s my purpose.

Karie Angell Luc is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

Parent Tip – How To Help Your Teen Athlete, Musician, or Exam Taker Perform at Their Peak

 Parent Tip – How To Help Your Teen Athlete, Musician, or Exam Taker Perform at Their Peak


 I have a question for all of you parents of talented athletes, musicians, performers?

What do you think kids dread the most when it comes to pursuing their sport or artistic endeavor?

  • Do you think it’s when they get cut or don’t get the part or the first seat in the orchestra?
  • Or do you think it’s when they lose?
  • Or when they make an error on the field or play a bad match?
  • Or when the coach or artistic director gets on their case?

In fact, it’s none of the above!!

A majority of my clients report to me that they most dread is the car ride home from the event.What happens in the car ride home to make my clients feel it is their least favorite thing about participating in their endeavor (sports or music)?

Frequently, parents become diagnosticians and coaches, telling their child exactly what he/she did wrong on the court, field, or concert hall.  Or worse, they give their child the silent treatment, or yell at them because they didn’t play well.

My clients tell me that these actions create fear of not wanting to disappoint their parents, the people most important to them. Or they fear they will lose their parent’s love if they don’t perform perfectly.  Fear in turn causes my clients to freeze, get tight, or choke when under pressure.  Even though parents are trying to help, they are actually created a situation where their child can’t perform at their peak.

Even worse than the fear of making a mistake, the child quits a sport they used to like because the fun is gone.Three ofevery fourparticipants in sports under the age of 14 end up quitting their sport because it’s not fun anymore.

What can you say to kids that changes this dynamic?  John O’Sullivan of Changing the Game Project recommends five magic words to say to your kids during the car ride home —“ I loved watching you play.”

Start using these words, letting your kids you loved being with them no matter how they perform and you will see improved performance and a remarkable positive difference in your relationship with your kids.  “I loved watching you play.”