Dr. Joe "Doc" Massimo
Dr. Joe Massimo was affectionately known as “Doc” throughout the gymnastics community.
Joe began his career in gymnastics in 1950. First as a competitor on the SUNY Cortland gymnastics team and then competed for the U.S. Army. He has remained active in the sport ever since.
He became a coach, judge, and journalist in the late 1950's. He was subsequently appointed to the United States National Coaching Staff in 1969 as a special assistant.
The position represented a historic moment in the growth of competitive gymnastics in our country by hiring the first psychologist to join a national staff.
In 1972, he was named the U.S. Gymnastic Team Psychologist, one of the very first clinical psychologists to be appointed to any Olympic team. He was sought after as a clinician at many regional and national training camps for the rest of his career.
From the beginning of his gymnastics career, starting with men’s teams and moving to women’s teams, "Doc" always placed an emphasis on the development of a “mental strategy/game plan” coupled with a vigorous physical training regimen.
Dr. Joe Massimo helped grow the sport of gymnastics in this country as a judge and journalist reporting national and international meets and results in Modern Gymnast Magazine in the 1960s.
He was also very involved in the transition of power from the American Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to the United States Gymnastics Federation (USGF), a predecessor of USA Gymnastics (USAG).
He helped propel our teams into an international presence while working with several World and Olympic teams and their coaches over the years.
Beginning in 1969, Dr. Massimo was the first psychologist to publish articles on gymnastics psychology and was given his own column titled “Psychology and the Gymnast” in Modern Gymnast, Mademoiselle Gymnast, and eventually International Gymnast magazine (IG).
He continued to be published in IG and USAG Technique magazines up to 2007. He also contributed monthly to The Elite Gymnastics Journal, a publication of the U.S. Elite Coaches Association beginning in 2012 until very recently.
Cover of Modern Gymnast Magazine- March 1969
First Published Article in the World on Gymnastics Psychology
Modern Gymnast Magazine - March 1969
Dr. Joe Massimo - Clinician -
1972 Olympic Gymnastic Team Psychologist
For more than 40 years, Dr. Massimo was a master clinician and lecturer on the regional and national circuits. He coached alongside many of the great coaches from our country's past.
"Doc" served on the United States Association of Independent Gymnastics Clubs Sports Medicine Council (USAIGC) in the ’80s and ’90s. He, along with Dr. Sue Massimo, conducted research on young competitive gymnasts as well as provided "psych sessions for the eager young athletes."
“Doc” was inducted into the USAIGC Hall of Fame in 1993 and to the USA Gymnastics Region VI Hall of Fame in 1994.
Dr. Massimo was appointed to the USA Gymnastics National Athlete Wellness Network as a Sports Psychologist in 1997.
He is listed in the World Sports Psychology Sourcebook, U.S. Olympic Committee Sports Psychology Registry, and the International Society of Sport Psychology.
Most people thought “Doc’ worked full-time in gymnastics, however, it was his part-time job until he retired. He graduated from Harvard University with a Master’s and Doctorate in Clinical and School Psychology.
For nearly 30 years, Dr. Massimo was the Chief Psychologist for a school system in the suburbs of Boston. Supervising a staff of 23 psychologists, he was charged with providing services to 18,000 youth within the context of school and their families. He also provided clinical care at Harvard's acclaimed McLean Hospital.
He also found time to teach as an Asst. Clinical Professor of Education at Harvard University and Asst. Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine. Plus, he was an Adjunct Professor of Sports Psychology in the B.U. Graduate School of Education as well as the University of Massachusetts.
His clinical work in psychology had been published in every major journal in that field at the time.
By Dr. Joe Massimo & Dr. Sue Massimo
Based on his school and educational background, Dr. Massimo was a strong proponent of supporting a healthy relationship between young athletes, their parents and the teachers and coaches who work with them.
He shared his insights, as an author or co-author with Dr. Sue Massimo (Dr. Sue), in over 200 articles on gymnastics psychology published between 1969 and 2020.
He and Dr. Sue also co-authored several books including Psychology and Gymnastics, Vol. I in 1986 and Vol. II in 1994.
Their latest published work is Gymnastics Psychology: The Ultimate Guide for Coaches, Gymnasts and Parents.
"Doc" and Dr. Sue were also collaborating on a 3-volume series on “Gymnastics Commandments” which will be published in the future.
Dr. Massimo worked one-on-one as a sport psychologist with a variety of athletes throughout his career.
He trained national, elite, and Olympic athletes from the following sports: figure skating, kickboxing, swimming and diving, soccer, ballroom dancing, track and field, bobsledding, and golf.
In terms of gymnastics, “Doc” began coaching men’s gymnastics then moved on the primarily women’s gymnastics.
He also traveled around the country providing gymnastics mental training at clinics and conferences for both athletes and coaches.
His passion for gymnastics and his willingness to help others was very evident in all his presentations and hands-on discussions.
Around the Boston area, “Doc” Massimo coached at many gyms and spent the last 30+ years at Massachusetts Gymnastics Center. "Doc" loved coaching and having “psych sessions” with the competitive gymnasts.
Even into his 80's, Doc continued to spend his time in the gym welcoming the young gymnasts and parents.
He loved all the kids, regardless of the age or talent, and could not think of a better place he would rather be than in the “gym.”
Happy 85th Birthday Card from Doc's Masstars Family
"‘Gymnastics Psychology’is dedicated to the thousandsof young gymnasts along withthe guidance and support oftheir coaches and parents,who strive to express theircreative energy through this art;many with small success,some with considerable,and a very few with much,but all with inspiring dreamsand abiding love.”
~Doc & Dr Sue~
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