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April 2019 in review: mental training

Physically developing athletes is only part of the game. Champions require excellence across all pillars of sport, from the tactical to technical, from the physical to mental. Throughout the month we took a look at how athletes can improve their mental game, with a special focus on case studies of how concepts are put into practice by top coaches and athletes. We put together 3 new podcasts and 8 new articles from our team of coaches. Read more

GAINcast Episode 159: Sports psychology

Creating mentally strong athletes that can bring the right focus to training and perform under pressure is no easy task. While specialists can help in this area, every coach needs to understand that how they design training can also help develop the athlete mentally as well as physically. On this episode of the GAINcast we talk about sports psychology and how to integrate important concepts into daily training sessions. Read more

Are you tough or are you trained?

Mental toughness might be the most cliché term used in sports today. There is no way to the top if you don’t have “it.” When a team loses, coaches most commonly point to mental toughness for where things fell short. While it is easy to point a finger at mental toughness, it is harder to actually understand what all these coaches are talking about. Let’s take a minute to unwrap this idea. If mental toughness is so crucial to success, why do so many coaches struggle to define it or share a common definition, yet time and time again know it when they see it? Read more

HMMR Podcast Episode 195: The champion’s mind (with Adam Nelson and Szymon Ziolkowski)

We watch champion’s win all the time, but rarely do we get a chance to see what is going on inside their head. On this week’s episode we get to talk to two Olympic champions and see what their thought process is in competition, how they prepare, and how they’ve overcome some of the most difficult situations imaginable in sport. Tune in to hear shot putter Adam Nelson and hammer throw Szymon Ziolkowski share their experiences. Read more

An athlete’s perspective on mental training with Sergej Litvinov

Throughout the month we are sharing different viewpoints on mental training, but it can often be difficult to see how the theory translates into practice in this area. Last December we brought world class hammer thrower Sergej Litvinov to Zurich for a workshop. I’ve already written about his technical philosophy and how he rethinks drills for the hammer. But he also gave us a look inside his mental preparation and how an elite athlete integrates into physical training. Below are a few lessons he taught us. Read more

Mental toughness and mountaineering

Mountaineering can provide some great case studies in risk and mental preparation. The types of situations encountered by mountaineers are at the extreme and can really highlight the decision making process because each decision brings with it more consequences. As I wrote about earlier this year, you might think this environment would lead to more accurate weighing of risks, but often it presents a cautionary tale of what can happen when you’re too motivated to meet a goal. We can learn from where climbers have failed, but we can also learn from where they have succeeded and some new research looks at mental toughness among mountaineers. Read more

HMMR Podcast Episode 194: Mental skills (with Mona Pretorius)

Take a look at high level sport and the top teams often do not have much separating them physically. In the end it often comes down to the team with the mental edge. And just as athletes train their physical skills, they must also train their mental skills. World class weightlifter Mona Pretorius has competed on the international stage in three sports and studied sports psychology. She joins us on this week’s podcast to talk about the mental side of sport and training mental skills. Read more

HMMR Podcast Episode 193: Aim high (with Dana Lyon)

As a javelin thrower Dana Lyon was undersized and overlooked. It forced her to aim high and learn more about the event to succeed. She climbed her way up to become US champion. On this episode of the podcast she comes on the show to discuss how she developed her throw, her coaching philosophy, the competition mindset, and military life. Read more

GAINcast Episode 156: Chucking spears (with Steve Backley)

Watch the javelin in full speed and it is a thing of beauty. Watch it in slow motion and it’ll often make you cringe. In order to throw a spear the length of a football field requires athletes to put their body in extreme positions with massive amounts of force transferring through the kinetic chain. Mastering it is hard, staying at the top even harder. Steve Backley was not just one of the best javelin throwers of all time, but sat atop the sport for 15 years. On this episode of the GAINcast, Backley joins us to discuss how he developed in the sport, what creates the perfect throw, and becoming a better competitor. Read more

HMMR Podcast Episode 140: The pit crew (with Michael Lepp)

Stereotypes of NASCAR might not bring to mind physical preparation, but motor sports have joined in the training revolution over the past decade and NASCAR is leading the way. On this week’s episode Michael Lepp of Joe Gibbs Racing joins us to talk about the role of strength and conditioning in motor sports, the mental side of preparation, and more. Read more