Archive for the ‘Athletic Performance Intervention’ Category

Athletic Performance Intervention

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Mindsets for Optimal Performance

Endurance sports are a unique breed of competitive events. Athletes compete in such events to see how far they can push their bodies and their minds in order to accomplish an impressive goal, such as completing a marathon. However, because of the mentally and physically difficult nature of such events, many athletes are faced confronting strong self-doubts at least at some point during the race. As we know from established sports psychology research, the difference between those who excel in such events and those who don’t often revolves around the mental aspect of their training/racing. That is, all things being equal, those with a more adaptive psychological frame of mind will do better compared to those who allow negative self-talk or self-doubt undermine their performance. This form of self-dialogue, or ‘self-talk’ is the focus of our research. When this self-talk turns negative, we can reliably predict that performance will similarly be negatively affected. In contrast, when athletes are able to sustain positive and encouraging self-talk, performance can be expected to improve as well. The work that we do is aimed at targeting some of the psychological barriers that undermine athletic performance in competitive situations, and to identify the components of positive self-talk among athletes that can have beneficial effects on performance. This cutting edge research will maximize athletic performance among athletes of all levels, and will help inform future training regimens for sports psychology.

In order to inform our intervention content, we began by capturing insights and experiences from elite athletes at the Olympic and professional levels to identify critical components of their cognitive processes that are associated with optimal performance during endurance events. We intend to use some of those insights, along with well established psychological theory–although rarely applied–to provide athletes with the best psychological tools they need to excel during a racing environment.