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Sports Psychology Therapist Cristerna Joins USAT High Performance Team

Nov. 06, 2015, 11:07 a.m. (ET)

(November 6, 2015) -- USA Taekwondo is pleased to announce that Jinnie Cristerna will be joining the USAT High Performance Team as sport psychology manager. Cristerna brings with her with a wealth of experience, knowledge, and success in working with taekwondo athletes at every level of development. She has worked with Olympian Nia Abdallah and dozens of Senior and Junior National Team members who have brought home an array of medals from the Junior and Senior World Championships and Youth Olympic Games. 

A licensed clinical social worker in Illinois and a graduate of the University of Chicago, Cristerna has worked with taekwondo athletes for over a decade and has competitively sparred herself, winning medals at national and international tournaments in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2013. In addition to working with athletes, Cristerna provides psychotherapy and coaching for lawyers, doctors, traders and programmers around the world and is the resident therapist and blogger for the largest and oldest African-American magazine in the country, JET Magazine. She has also served on a number of non-profit and private boards for over 15 years. Currently she serves on the University of Chicago’s Alumni Board of Governors. 

As the sport psychology manager for USA Taekwondo, Cristerna will report to High Performance Director Patrick Wentland. She will create and license to USAT three sport psychology courses specifically designed to meet the needs of athletes, parents, and coaches, write blogs for USAT members to access, attend select athlete development camps, and develop and deliver sport psychology webinars. Cristerna will also work with individual USAT athletes or schools at a discounted rate, and participate in select regional and national trainings.

"Some of you may know that Jinnie is the resident and founder of International Sport Achievers (ISA)," said Wentland. "ISA has successfully worked with a number of our athletes which is why we wanted to develop a stronger relationship with the expertise. Although ISA will still exist, it will no longer be affiliated with USAT so long as Jinnie is the sport psychology manager. We look forward to expanding our working relationship with Jinnie Cristerna and having her mentally strengthen our athletes to perform better at international competitions."

Sport psychology is a specialty that focuses on helping athletes manage their mind and emotions so they can perform at optimal levels. Athletes have a life just like everyone else and sometimes life's challenges can get in the way of their performance. While some athletes may need help sorting through everyday challenges, others struggle with performance issues such as: focus, confidence, self-doubt, fear, anxiety, anger, etc. Sport psychology can address both personal and performance issues an athlete may be experiencing. 

“The body can only do what the mind allows," Cristerna states. "That’s why training your mind is just as important as training your body. Training one and not the other is like running a race in flip flops.”