Issue No. 13
Free Sports Psychology Report What Makes a Team Successful? Mental Training for Physical Success

How to train your mind to increase your physical performance

When physical skills are evenly matched, it is often the competitor with the stronger mental approach, who can control his or her mind before and during events, who wins.

However, many athletes wrongly assume that mental aspects of performance are innate and unchangeable when, in reality, systematic mental training can have a similar impact on performance as physical workouts.

Read on for effective mental training techniques that will improve your performances…

Plus, where does the will to win come from? You don’t have to accept your lot here either...

Read on for nine top tips to increase your will power…

Also, what makes a team work?

Read on to discover England football team coach Sven-Goran Eriksson’s eight attributes for team success…

In this issue of How To Win:

  • The major factor that distinguishes successful athletes from the rest
  • What happens to your body before competition
  • The key to an appropriate pre-competition mind set
  • How to control your emotions to enhance your performance
  • Using imagery for good technique
  • The ‘quick set routine’ – combining the emotional and physical in the seconds before competition
  • How to fortify your mind and develop your will to win
  • What makes a team successful?
  • Free Sports Psychology Special Report

The importance of the mind

Getting into the correct mind-set prior to competition is one of the most crucial aspects of top performance.

In fact, a study of Olympic athletes by Orlick and Partington (1) showed that the combination of mental and physical readiness was a key factor that distinguished more successful athletes from their less successful counterparts in the Olympic Games.

Perhaps even more impressive is the finding that, of the three states of readiness assessed (mental, physical and technical), only mental factors were statistically linked with final Olympic rankings.

Pre-competition strategies — using increased emotion to increase your performance

During the lead-up to an important competition, the body starts to prepare for the demands to come by releasing hormones such as epinephrine into the bloodstream, setting in motion the physiological changes associated with increased arousal (sometimes referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response).

In addition, changes occur in the attentional system, as athletes become more focused and alert, with increasingly active minds. This overall increase in arousal can be your best friend or your worst enemy: and the key to achieving an appropriate mind-set is to analyse the changes in a rational manner and channel your emotions in a positive direction.

Many élite athletes associate increased arousal with excitement as the body readies itself for competition, and use it as a cue to focus on pre-planned routines.

This positive interpretation of the arousal response usually leads to more positive emotions and optimistic outlooks.

Conversely, some athletes interpret physiological changes like an increased heart rate as anxiety, worry and apprehension, with a negative impact on emotions that is not conducive to good performance.

The most important thing to remember is that your interpretation of physiological changes directs your emotional response.

However, the relationship between thoughts and emotions works in both directions: although emotions are the result of cognitive interpretations, they can also impact on your thoughts, giving rise to a vicious circle of negative thoughts and emotions.

Gain control by altering your focus

The good news for athletes who experience unhelpful emotions before competition is that you can gain more control by altering your focus of attention.

The next time you feel these unwanted changes occurring try going through the following psychological routine:

1. Tell yourself ‘this is my body preparing me to perform well’, and repeat the affirmation as necessary;

2. Try to recall an image of yourself either winning or performing well, and connect this with the feelings you experienced at the time.

You will need to practise this routine on a regular basis in order to establish it as a habitual response that will help you feel more composed and energised before competitions.

If negative images jump into your mind during this time, try to visualise the most successful athlete in your sport and the way he or she runs, competes, enjoys performing – in short every positive thing about them. Then visualise yourself with similar positive attributes.

All these training techniques appear in The Peak Performance newsletter.

Mental preparation

The mental aspects prior to performance should involve focusing on what you are going to do during the event. This can include specific strategies, and the establishment of optimal attentional focus.

Some athletes will like to use imagery to recall positive past experiences and generate a sense of confidence.

Many people use imagery simply to see themselves winning but it can be employed to imagine good technique, coping with difficult situations, recreating emotional feelings and rehearsing the upcoming event in the mind.

The ‘quick set’ routine

Psychologist Jeff Simons has described one of the best ways to organise the last 20-30 seconds before competition in what has become known as the quick set routine (5).

This three-phase routine is designed to provide a quick focus that can be used just before competition or as a means of refocusing quickly following a distraction.

It is minimal in content, which appeals to many athletes, and involves a physical, emotional and focus cue. An example for a sprinter could be:

  1. Close eyes, clear your mind and maintain deep rhythmical breathing, in through your nose and out through your mouth (physical cue);
  2. Imagine a previous race win, see yourself crossing the line first and recreate those feelings (emotional cue);
  3. Return your focus to the sprint start, thinking of blasting off on the ‘B’ of the bang (focus cue).

In our Free Sports Pyschology Special Report, you can read more about effective pre-competition strategies.

Training the will-power

Professor McDougall, a famous psychological writer some 40 years ago, stated that the seemingly useless practice of each day taking all the matches out of a matchbox and, one by one, arranging them in a line on a table, was an exercise that would strengthen will-power.

We don't hear much about will-power training in sport. We often hear about 'the will to win' but where does this will come from?

Are we born with it or can we acquire it?

Oscar Wilde aptly summed up the weak-willed when he said: 'I can resist everything except temptation'.

Athletes have to resist certain excessive social behaviour patterns, which are accepted as the norm elsewhere in society. This is defensive use of the will.

Can we go on the offensive?

We can - and in doing so, improve our performance.

A middle-aged female took up running for the marathon. She had not participated in sport of any kind for 25 years. She was told to run for one minute and each successive day to add a minute.

Because she had such a short stride, her leg strength was tested by making her hop 25 metres. She took 22 hops to cover the distance (world-class middle-distance runners can do it in nine). She was told to do hopping exercises every other day.

After 100 days this woman was running for 100 minutes and had reduced her total hops to 15.

The secret of her success was to start with a very minor challenge and to build on it.

Nine top fortifying tips

In summary, here are my nine top tips for fortifying the mind:

  1. Start each day with a declaration of intent: 'I am going to enjoy this day'.
  2. You can run; many cannot and will not run. Some have never known what it is like to run. Make the most of it while you can.
  3. You can train every day for at least one hour. There is no excuse not to.
  4. Train with a goal in mind.
  5. The method of achieving this goal must involve rehearsing the activity and aids to that activity.
  6. Competition must not only include the specific event but other events which will test endurance and speed.
  7. Exercise your will specifically by daily devoting time to the task you dislike most in training, or to a known weakness
  8. When it comes to competition, if you have trained diligently and intelligently and done your best, you have succeeded. You are only a failure if you have not done these things.

Read on for your Free Sports Pyschology Report...

What makes an effective team

In his book on football psychology, Sven-Goran Eriksson, the England footabll team coach, talks a great deal about how the ‘we’ mentality can raise the performance of all the players in a team and help reduce the pressure associated with big matches.

He describes eight key attributes of an effective team, and I invite you to note that all are task-oriented and have nothing to do with social relationships. The ‘good team’, according to the England Coach, has:

  1. a common vision
  2. clear and definite goals which go hand-in-hand with this vision
  3. members who share their understanding of strategy and tactics
  4. great inner discipline (meaning they act professionally together)
  5. players with characteristics which complement each other
  6. a good division of roles among the players, with all members treated equally
  7. players who put the common good before their own interests
  8. players who take responsibility for the whole team, with everyone accepting mistakes as long as people do their best.

The Free Peak Performance Sports Psychology Report contains more research and practical advice on what makes a successful team.

Personal access to the world’s greatest and most costly training secrets

Substantial amounts of money are pouring into worldwide research and scientists spend millions to find ways to improve the performance of competitive athletes. Their discoveries have changed our understanding of how the body and mind work.

But! – You won’t find these breakthroughs reported in the national press. As you’ve no doubt noticed, newspapers and over-the-counter magazines are far more interested in personalities, events, disputes and scandals. Even when interviewed, the athletes and their coaches give little away.

In fact, unless you subscribe to the Peak Performance newsletter, you are unlikely to know of even the biggest breakthroughs.

The Peak Performance newsletter

The information contained in the Peak Performance newsletter comes from dedicated sports scientists working at the cutting edge of discovery.

You’ll have the same information as the world’s top athletes and sports people. In each issue you’ll discover new, tested techniques that are currently being used to push the limits of physical achievement forward.

How to benefit from these new techniques

If you want to beat the competition, or just get super fit, then take a trial subscription to Peak Performance – and avoid the errors that slow down so many uninformed enthusiasts. Here are some of the things you’ll learn:

  • Traditional strength training in the gym does not develop optimal strength for your sport

  • You will almost always fail to reach your pinnacle of performance on the accepted diet of hard workouts

  • You can’t fully develop your competitive ability using high mileage training

  • You’ll never reach your full potential until you start to use specialised exercises

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Receive your free Sports Psycholgy Special Report with your trial subscription to Peak Performance newsletter. You won’t find these techniques in the national press!

10 examples of how the Peak Performance newsletter can boost performance and improve fitness

By subscribing to Peak Performance you’ll have the same information as the world’s top coaches and competitors – the ones that come back with medals and trophies from international events.

In each issue you’ll discover new, tested techniques that coaches and sports therapists are currently using to extend the limits of athletic achievement. These are for you to use in your own sport.

Here are ten examples of how Peak Performance can begin to improve your performance right away:

  1. Boost your oxygen supply: discover two ‘cheats’ to increase blood volume to exceptionally high levels before important competitions. These techniques will reduce the heart rate during exercise and deliver more oxygen to hard-working muscles

  2. Slice away body fat, build muscle: use our easy, short workout just three times a week to carve away body fat and replace it with lean muscle

  3. Increase endurance performance by up to 17%: simple strengthening exercises can improve:

    • Strength
    • Power
    • Economy
    • VO2max
    • Lactate threshold, the best predictor of endurance performance
  4. Instantly available injury treatment: read how a simple two-minute procedure can handle most cases of knee pain

  5. Achieve outstanding speed in distance events: achieve your highest level of performance and build functional strength with ‘neural training’ – fine-tuning the nervous system

  6. How to outgun the rest of the field: one of the oldest training methods, forgotten for most of this century, has been rediscovered – and is being used to win events

  7. Increase muscle strength the easy way: we show how to cut out time-wasting exercises and build muscle strength the fast way

  8. Sports nutrition: there are some energy drinks that will help you – but which are they and when should you take them?

  9. On-line access – a wealth of ‘best practice’ advice: free access to the World Sports Science Library web site, now established as a national centre for practical, performance-boosting tips and the latest advances

  10. Reduce dehydration and get more from your exercise: scientists have discovered a safe, natural chemical that reduces dehydration during training and competition


With your first trial issue of Peak Performance you receive a Sports Psycholgy Special Report. You won't find this information in the national press! Your report gives you more practical advice on:

  • Pre-competition strategies
  • How to control your emotions and direct your nervous energy towards winning
  • How to adopt the correct mind set to maximise performance
  • Using imagery for winning, good technique and coping with problems
  • Warming up for the mind and the body
  • A variety of techniques to help you focus effectively
  • Cope with distractions
  • Deal with mind games from opponents
  • The necessity of training for mental as well as physical preparation
  • The true importance of team cohesion in achieving success
  • What aspects of team cohesion really matter?
  • How a team can be successful even if they don't like each other!
  • Why you should plan what you are going to think about during training and competition and how to do it.
  • From Olympic 400m Hurdles Gold Medal Winner, David Hemery: how to increase self awareness and responsibility, two attributes that invariably stand out in top performers
  • (For coaches, parents and fans) what type of encouragement makes a difference to performance. Yes it matters.

To order your US$1.99 trial subscription, your free Sports Psychology Special Report and your three free issues of Peak Performance, please click here.


Sylvester Stein
Peak Performance

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