How to win at the Olympics – use your mind!

All top-level athletes – like the the 17,000 that will descend on London for the Olympics in July 2012 – will probably have the optimal genes to compete at their chosen sport. They will have been training for years, and their diets will be finely honed. But it is in their minds where medals will be won or lost.

It’s only in the last decade or so that psychological training has been recognised as equally important to sporting success as the physical side. The psychologist to the British Olympic team runs twice-monthly sessions for athletes in the final year of the run-up to the Olympics. A pair of psychologists in Israel implement a four-year programme of psychological training with their athletes, which starts as soon as the last games finish.

Medal-winners tend to be those who are best able to control their emotions and focus their attention, and are brimming with confidence, motivation and optimism. The idea of psych-training is to help athletes reach this state of mind through strategies such as goal-setting, imagery, simulating the competitive environment and even talking to themselves. Learn more here.

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