Posts

Champion’s choice: resilience

Resilience is the quality both physical and psychological that enables you to bounce back from adversity or setbacks. Some people equate resilience with mental toughness, personally I reject the whole concept of mental toughness. Resilience is so much more. It is nerves of steel, not letting setbacks get in the way of progress. The resilient athlete looks at adversity as opportunity. A chance to test themselves in a new way, to strengthen their resolve in pursuit of their goals. Read more

What makes champions?

My interest in what it takes to be a champion started early. As a youngster I was always questioning why? Why was that player better? Why did that team win all the time? As I got older and played football in college there were clear differences that became apparent. At first, I thought it was just talent. If you have talent you were successful, it was that straight forward  or was it? If that was the case, then why was one of the most physically talented guys on the team sitting next to me on the bench? Then why did teams that appeared to have less talent consistently win? Read more

Optimism in coaching: helpful or harmful?

Are you a better than average driver? In an interesting study from the early 80s, researchers asked a small group of American and Swedish study participants this very question. Their answers were illuminating; 93% of Americans believed they were better than average drivers, as did 69% of Swedes. Logically, this makes no sense; only 50% of people can be better than average drivers, and yet, these study results suggest that many people are unable to accurately understand their true driving ability relative to others. Read more

Quantifying the placebo effect in sports performance

Last month, I wrote about how the coach may act as a placebo, potentially exerting performance enhancing effects through a variety of means. The research discussed in that article was just s small part of recent efforts to better understand the influence of placebo effects on sporting performance. An upcoming special issue of European Journal of Sports Science aims to dig even more into the area, including another paper on the potential to further enhance our understanding of how placebo can affect performance. Read more

The coach as a placebo

One area of sports performance that I constantly find myself fascinated with is that of placebo effects, and its related cousin, expectancy. I find it really interesting that an inert substance can exert clear performance enhancing effects, as this has potentially huge implications for sporting performance. Read more

The words we use matter

If you’re a big athletics fan, and you have a good memory of semi-obscure sprinters, you may well have seen me race a couple of times. In bigger races, such as those at the Diamond League and major Championships, the camera pans across the competitors as they are introduced. Whilst it is the fashion these days to appear relaxed and jovial, earlier on in my career—in the immediate post-Maurice Greene era—athletes tended to be a bit more serious during this pre-race segment. If you go back and watch races from that period, you will often see athletes talking to themselves, and this is a technique I liked to utilize pre-race. Read more

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

Psychological considerations for strength coaches

“What allows you to perform at your peak in the season?” mental performance coach Julian Coffman asked a room full of America’s top developmental skiers last summer. “Confidence,” one of the athletes offers. “And where does that confidence come from?” Julian counters. “From trusting in your preparation and in your summer training,” the athlete replies. Read more

Can you catch anxiety?

Yawn.

Just reading that word will cause many of you to yawn. In fact, the more I mention the word “yawn”, the more likely you are to carry out a yawn. Are you yawning yet? 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