There are lots of theories on how to train the body so that athletes can push themselves harder and to achieve their ultimate goals. Many athletes push themselves to the limit, increase their physical fitness and ability, eat healthily, take all the necessary supplements but don’t achieve their goals. The reason for this is that they have not trained their mind to be in the peak performance zone, they have worries, fears and do not feel confident enough to win a race or an event. Mental training is proving to be vital for an athlete and may be the key between winning or coming second.
WE CAN TRAIN OUR MINDS TO PERFORM BETTER
Here are two stories of athletes that chose to improve their physical performance through mental training. Nathalie Bergstrom and Nedene Cahill are mountain bikers who have achieved many incredible results in their cycling careers. They have both won gold at the Mountain Bike World Championships, here they explain how mental training with Andrea Kellerman at EQ-Advantedge has helped them to win gold.
What does a typical session look like?
During their mental training intake-sessions they had to explain what their training and racing consists of. For example: they had to describe their thoughts, feelings, sleep patterns, what the races were like, what made them feel worried etc… Negative thought patterns, behaviours and beliefs were then eliminated in a guided visualisation session. During the session, the conscious mind relaxes and we could work with the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is like the policing system of our mind that helps us make conscious decisions.
The subconscious mind, that is about 90% of our mind’s capacity, is the part that stores our feelings, experiences, automatic behaviours and beliefs. When the mind is relaxed, we can work with the subconscious and help to create positive thought patterns and feelings. We can also help the mind to see the perfect outcome of a race or an event, which increases confidence and strength. In the relaxed state, the mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and fiction, which means that the newly created positive outcomes are seen as our new reality and we can repeat them in real life. The sessions are taped on a CD and we can shape a permanent behaviour and thought pattern change by listening to the CD over a number of weeks.
“I was always very anxious, nervous and worked up before my races – losing energy and essentially the race before I even started. Even the slightest of hiccups would make me very negative and I saw everything as a problem and not as a challenge. It was recommended to me to try mental training and it was the BEST thing I ever did”, said Nathalie when asked why she came to our mental training sessions.
Nedene on the other hand said that her coach told her to come and that the mental training helped her to stay focused and positive. She had lost confidence in herself as she had a number of bad incidences during races. She was strong and made good progress in her training sessions but during races she would not be able to implement that. Her performance had dropped, she was getting sick more often, worried about her nutrition and felt she wasn’t as strong as she needed to be.
The mental training helped both of them to believe in themselves, to be completely focused, positive and determined.
On the day of the World Championship Nedene was able to visualise the “Perfect Race” and to remain focused no matter what happened. She arrived at the start line in a positive frame of mind and was so determined to win, nothing was going to stop her!
Nathalie reported that the mental training changed her in her way of thinking and approaching races. She was a lot more relaxed and not so stressed. At the start of the World Championship she went in totally focused, confident, relaxed, ready and determined to win it. That state of mind was not the norm for her before she started with the mental training. On top of needing to be more confident and focused she battled with two severe injuries, one being a knee injury where she was told they had to operate.
In addition, Nathalie believes that if she hadn’t trained her mind she wouldn’t have WON the World Championship and might not even have started as the training helped her to overcome her two injuries that she incurred leading up to World Championship. Furthermore, it helped her to tackle the most technical sections without any doubt or hesitation.
Both athletes agree that they would most certainly encourage all top competitive athletes who need to stay focused and positive to come to EQ Advantedge for mental training. “It shifts your mind into a very strong positive place, makes you focus and approach your event in a calm relaxed mode. It also makes you focus on YOURSELF and YOUR race and not on your competition.”
Don’t just train your body but also train your mind to become the best you can be! For more information on our brain and mind training visit: www.eq-advantedge.co.za or phone 031-2668563.