“Everyone is pretty much at the same level physically –
The difference comes down to who can hold it together mentally”.
(Michelle Davison, American diver)
Being in top physical fitness alone is not enough for sustained success in professional sports. Over recent years, there has been increasing awareness of the vital importance of mental resilience in enhancing peak performance in elite athletes. Your ability to hold it together mentally when under pressure is essential for making you a winner in the sport you love.
Furthermore, research shows that professional sports athletes suffer from stress-related conditions more than the rest of the population (Fullerton, 2002, Mann, 2007). This can be due to the amount they are required to balance – the demands of the sport, celebrity status, media attention, pressures of sponsorships, family and everyday life.
For example, a recent study by FIFPro (2013) found that one in four professional footballers suffer symptoms of anxiety and depression. The mental health of recently retired professional footballers was even more concerning, with one in three reporting signs of anxiety and depression. Retirement is also a critical period that can put many professional sport athletes under a lot of stress. Retiring from the sport you’ve been devoted to can mean multiple losses and adjustment to finding a new life.
Benefits to You:
Dr Aoiffe Kilcommons established the Resilience in Mind Centre as a result of her work with professional sports people. In association with the Bridgewater Hospital, she designed the innovative ‘Mind of a Player Resilience Training Programme’ to help professional athletes stay mentally tough and achieve peak performance under pressure. This training was delivered to Premier League Football Clubs in 2012/2013. She also has experience of working on a 1:1 basis with elite sportsmen (active and retired) at the highest level from various professional sporting arenas e.g. Premier League Football, Gymnastics, Rugby, Boxing – to name a few.
The Resilience in Mind Centre aims to support athletes and coaching personnel in the professional sporting arena to enhance their ability to perform their best under pressure. This mental resilience work is focused on a preventative and treatment level and has the added bonus of improving the well-being and lives of those involved in sports. Our approach features educational training and skills development, draws upon evidence-based and holistic approaches and supports the use of research to enhance the performance and health of the sports population. The training can be done in individual and group format.
Services you can benefit from include:
We all experience stress and emotional pain at times – as human beings there’s no avoiding it. Life doesn’t always go our way and can even knock us off our feet from time to time. Our ability to get back up, dust ourselves down and keep going in the direction we want to go is what I call resilience. In other words, resilience is our ability to reside in that place of “I’m OK” inside, no matter what happens on the outside.
Emotional intelligence is a key element of mental resilience and can be described as our ability to access, use and regulate our emotions to get what we want out of life.
Under threat, we can all struggle with upsetting thoughts and feelings. Despite not wanting to be stuck in our pain and suffering, we all know it can be hard to steer ourselves towards feeling calmer and happier. What goes on in our heads can have a huge impact on how we feel and how we cope.
Simply put, if our minds are cluttered with negative thoughts, we feel bad. If we have clarity of mind we feel good.
The same applies in the sporting arena.
If your mind is cluttered with negative thoughts, you perform poorly.
If you have clarity of mind, you perform well.
Clarity of mind is vital for allowing you to stay calm and achieve pinpoint focus so you can perform your best under pressure.
Facing an important competition, you can expect to feel some pressure and stress. This is normal. You probably already know that a certain amount of threat arousal will actually increase your focus, concentration, increase your strength and stamina, speed up your reaction time and ultimately enhance your sports performance. This is what’s known as your zone of optimal performance.
But say you underperformed and didn’t win last time and preparing for your next competition, your mind is filled with self-doubt and self-criticism triggering powerful distressing feelings such as anxiety or frustration. Naturally, you then struggle to think clearly or start to over-think your moves rather than allow your body to lead the way. You can’t get into your flow and you end up choking and performing badly. To make matters worse, you’re then filled with self-criticism after the competition and may end up feeling bad, frustrated, deflated, or a failure. You can’t stop going over and over in your mind how you performed, the mistake you made, or trying to figure out why. Your confidence takes a massive hit and then worry about performing badly again starts to creep in.
When feeling the pressure, your ability to respond to negative thoughts and feelings, achieve clarity of mind, and stay focused is key to supporting you to realise your sporting potential.
The good news is that you can learn how to perform your very best under pressure by strengthening your mental resilience. Developing your emotional intelligence skills is a crucial part of the process. The first step is for you to understand how your emotions, mind and brain work. This lays a firm foundation upon which to learn skills to use your emotions and mind to achieve your sporting goals. To get the mental advantage over your competitors, you need to be able to calm yourself down quickly and retain sharp focus when things don’t go your way.
To be the best in your sport, you also need to know about the costly mistakes that will seriously undermine your ability to be mentally strong under pressure. At Resilience in Mind centre, we can teach you how to avoid the mistakes that can interfere with a winning performance.
At the Resilience in Mind Centre, Dr. Kilcommons is passionate about using what works to help you or your team/club achieve your full sporting potential.
All sessions are held in the strictest of confidence.
Just hit the button above or call Dr Kilcommons on 07378 302 335 to discuss your requirements.