Panthers Shrink Tank: Sports Psychologist Talks Cats

CHARLOTTE, NC (WCCB Charlotte) –The Panthers report for training camp in Spartanburg on Wednesday. The NFC Champs are scheduled to hold their first practice Thursday at Wofford College in front of thousands of fans.

This time of year is all-too-important for the Panthers as they prepare for the upcoming season on the field. But this time of year may be even more important because of the bonds built off the field.

“There are a lot of moving parts, players come and go, but how can they make this (team) a unit,” Dr. Desaree Festa, Sports Psychologist and Director of Mind Over Body at Southeast Psych in Charlotte said. “The best way you can do that is to get them away from the distraction and normal life and have these guys gel and mesh together.”

Last year’s 15-1 Panthers were the epitome of team chemistry. From team ‘dab’ celebrations, popularized by quarterback Cam Newton, to off-the-field collaborative work in the community, the team was a unit. But Festa warns that this year’s Panthers need not rest on their laurels.

“It’s not that you have it or don’t have it, it’s something that you always have to be intentional on how you enhance,” Festa said. “Always making sure that the team leaders are doing things to make sure they are joining things together.”

Festa says training camp and the early portions of the season are a good time for teammates to go through events and/or adversity together.

Festa is a sports psychologist for athletes of all ages. She works with players and teams in many of the major sports (NBA, NHL, MLB) and says these professional athletes have the same problems as the younger ones she works with.

“The common theme that does come up is managing expectations of others. How do you handle media attention? How do they handle privacy? How do they know who to trust and who not to trust,” Festa said.

Festa will be speaking at Mind Over Body’s Symposium on August 6th at UNC Charlotte Barnhart Student Activity Center on August 6th. Former Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas as well as former NBA player David Thompson are the two keynote speakers.