In July there will be over 17,000 of the world’s greatest athletes descending on London’s Olympic Village for the Summer Olympics. They have trained past the limits of most people in order to compete against the world’s finest, taking into consideration their diet, training routine and natural abilities. Most important, however, is the training they have done in their minds. This is what will win or lose the events.
It has only been within the last decade or so that psychological training has become part of an athlete’s regiment. It is finally recognized that no amount of talent can overcome a lack of confidence or inability to focus. Too much confidence is as detrimental as too little, so it is important to maintain a balance. Team sports players need to recognize that working as part of a team means releasing the ego and desire to become a star for the sake of the team.
In the final year of training the British Olympic team conducts twice-monthly sessions with psychologists. Israelis use a four-year psychological training program in order to maintain the mental toughness they need to succeed. They start their training the day after the last Olympics end.
Those who are able to maintain their focus, despite the noise from the enormous crowds and the psychological jitters that come from world competition are the ones who win the challenges. They are full of confidence and motivation that they can win, but realize there are others who are just as hungry to win the gold.
Trainers and their team have put together mind strategies that help the athletes, such as setting goals, visualization, and race simulation so the athlete is as ready as they will ever be, and their course can be run in their minds during conscious and unconscious times. Every detail counts, like the way notices are posted on the boards, and the information the athletes are given upon arrival at Olympic Village.
Being a winning athlete takes physical ability, usually
coming from their genetic makeup. For example, a certain form of the gene ACTN3 is beneficial for jumpers or sprinters because it gives them a fast-twitch muscle that is needed in order to maintain short bursts of speed and strength. The NRF2 gene is often found in athletes running endurance races, and it optimizes oxygen consumption.
A winning combination of genetics, training and mental toughness is what it takes to become an Olympic medal winner. Even the best athlete, with the best of all their training and genes, can not win without the mental power behind them needed to give it that extra push.
All the athletes who enter Olympic Village are winners before they were chosen for their teams. Unfortunately, there can only be one gold medal winner per competition. Sometimes it comes down to who wants it the most, and how hard they want to work their minds and their bodies to get it.
About the author:
Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion and memory training expert. As a memory speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.
New Scientists – How to Win at the Olympics: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228444.300-smart-guide-to-2012-how-to-win-at-the-olympics.html