Exercise has been proven to have more benefits than just that of physical health. Did you know it also helps you in your career? I know, I know. You’ve probably seen way too many articles on the benefits of exercise. They always go something like this: you’ll cut the risk of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart attacks… etc etc. I won’t be parroting more facts to you that you’ve already heard– here’s an amazing twist to the benefits of exercise.
"If it's important to you, you will find a way. If not you'll find an excuse."
An admirable statement. Promoting perseverance in the face of obstacles is the aim of many motivational quotes that stress the importance of hard-work and effort. It also happens to simplify often complex and difficult scenarios into one distilled, punchy phrase. It represents an ethos that we celebrate in our heroes, where dedication and application are the stuff of legends; the foundation of many of the stories that we tell our children and future stars.
Currently the field of sport psychology in South Africa is engaged in the challenging process of finding its feet. In many senses the identity of a sport psychologist, and the field of sport psychology has yet to be firmly established. There have been a number of attempts in the last decade by academics and professionalsto rectify this situation, the most recent of which has been the establishment of a South African Society of Sport and Exercise Psychology (SASSEP). As a very young organisation with a large task ahead of them, this group posed two central questions to the public and those working in the field:
The recent highly publicised scandal regarding some of the top-brass at the world’s football governing body FIFA got us thinking about the pressure of an increasingly profit-driven, politicised and commercialised sports arena on an athlete’s mental state. Words like “match-fixing”, “team politics”, “corruption” and "doping" immediately spring to mind.
People say there is no “I” in “Team”, but that can be a big mistake to make or perhaps just a naïve mentality to adopt. A team, any team, is made up of a group of individual’s after-all. In this blog post we take a glimpse into the dynamics of a team consisting of unique individuals with unique skill-sets, and how performance & sports psychology brings them together as an effective team with the goal of enhanced performance potential!
How much of a role does confidence play in a one-on-one matchup? Can an individual athlete be too confident? How much ego is enough ego? With the Mayweather VS Pacquiao fight behind us we reflect on what went down and attempt to answer some of these questions in this blog-post.
Looking back on the #FightoftheCentury, we must admit we’re secretly disappointed with the result. As good as Mayweather is, we would have loved to have seen him taken down a peg, and Pacquiao seemed like the perfect man for the job...
How do we channel the buildup leading up to a big clash? Well, the answer’s not that simple since there are a million different approaches, some proven and some hotly contested. In this post we take a look at two of these distinct mindsets leading up to the Floyd Mayweather VS Manny Pacquiao fight tomorrow, and try to understand how they will influence these two great athletes’ performance when the big moment arrives.
In this post we take a look at Jordan Spieth’s recent record-breaking win in the US Masters at Augusta - and explore what it takes to tackle an extended challenge and overcome all the odds.
So, just to get the proverbial ball rolling, here’s something interesting to mull over before you start reading: Jordan Spieth was only 21 when he won the US Masters on Sunday at a very challenging Augusta. He took the lead from Day 1 of the competition making him only the fifth winner to ever do so,
I spent last weekend in the beautiful South African sunshine watching a festival of rugby at the Takelot Cape Town 10's. It was really encouraging to see the number of people that were involved in some way in this growing event. I think it says something about the popularity of rugby in South Africa when a 'non-competitive' event like the 10's can attract such a large number of spectators and participants.
Winning and losing. Often it seems like that’s all there is. Results are read out in assembly, posted on websites and in newsletters, “the U14A’s won 5-2”. But we all know that there’s more to it than that. We tend to value some victories more than others, and even some defeats more than some victories. We intuitively understand that results aren’t always the best measures of success in sport. Yet somehow we still place so much emphasis on them.
Watching the opening rounds of the 2014 FIFA Soccer World Cup I found myself wondering about the past few months of preparation for the teams and athletes taking part. With players having been dispersed all around the world involved with their various clubs, I started to question the environment that these players would enter into as they begin preparing for their respective World Cup games. The idea of players coming from different setups, different ways of operating and being exposed to different coaching structures and methods and then having to ‘gel’ together as a competitive unit for the World Cup is fascinating.
Unpacking success can be a difficult and complex task. There are obvious ingredients such as physical attributes, technical skill, and mental ‘strength’. However, these are not ingredients that you can pick up at your local supermarket. They are the product of a multitude of different factors including genetics, practice, environment, coaching and experience. Over time we have gotten closer to the ‘secret recipe’ of success through a process of constantly refining two particular areas – physical conditioning and technical skill. Despite paying specific attention to these areas, it is commonly acknowledged by athletes and coaches that 90% of their success is mental.
It has long been recognised that sports injuries, and particularly those resulting from contact sports such as boxing and rugby, have the potential to cause long term cognitive consequences when injuries involve the athlete’s head. The term cognition refers to our mental capacities, and includes a wide range of abilities such as sustaining one’s attention for a period of time, remembering events from the past, being able to organise one’s behaviour, act rationally and make sound decisions. As part of the assessment and treatment process following a sports-related head injury, neuropsychologists are responsible for identifying acute and chronic cognitive and emotional sequelae that an athlete may be presenting with or at risk of post-injury.
I recently asked the question 'Do coaches see errors by Rugby players as weaknesses?' the other day on Twitter (@RossRugby) after I wondered why Rugby at almost every level has become so structured with coaches taking ever more control of attack, an aspect of Rugby that was once solely controlled by the players' decisions on the field. Why has Rugby Union attack, even at schoolboy level, become so boring, predictable and largely uninspired?
In part one we looked at James Loehr’s (1982) model of the Ideal Performance State which gave us a brief insight into the power of the mind-body connection. We came to understand that fear is an emotion that we attach to a certain situation based purely on our perception of that situation or of a past experience of that situation. We need to learn how to change this perception. We need to alter the mindset to overcome this fear.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to be on a skiing vacation in Austria, and it was within this majestic setting that I found the inspiration to write a small piece on what I believe is a fundamental psychological element of performance, or lack thereof. The element of FEAR.
Headstrong had the opportunity of chatting to Chad le Clos a short while before the 2012 Olympic Games. Looking back on that interview after Chad’s amazing performances in London, raises some interesting points for our understanding of mental performance at an elite level.
Myths can sometimes become reality when enough people repeat them without question and this is what I believe has happened with the common held belief that fancy passes or offloads, commonly referred to as 50/50's, are the cause of teams losing games. The problem with this belief is that instead of losing games, I believe the 50/50 passes actually win games...
In today's world, it is rare to see individuals competing for pure pleasure, relaxation and innocent recreation. Rare too is the phrase "it does not matter whether we win or lose" – a mantra which is considered increasingly old fashioned. The world in which we live today is seemingly more obsessed with success and with the desire and drive to "win". Perhaps it is the thought of being the best, the thought of being the most powerful or the most intelligent that is captivating and encompasses our drive for success. In almost every endeavour that humankind embarks on there exists the drive to be at the top, or to continuously improve at the very least.
Throughout the last few weeks I have been lamenting the lack of skills in schoolboy players as well as opining my reasons for this shortfall. I have also spoken about my belief that team practices should rather be based on individual skills instead of the current focus on game plans and unit skills, what I have not outlined as yet, is how I came to believe in the philosophy of players first instead of the traditional team first approach.
Over the course of my brief coaching career I have been fascinated with the individual player’s execution of the basic skills and the techniques needed to make them work under pressure. During this time I have spoken to many coaches and players at various levels of the game to find out about the correct techniques needed to execute each skill correctly. This learning process has taken me a number of years and during this time I have formed a few opinions about the way I think coaches and players have approached skills coaching in the past and the way I believe we should approach skills coaching in the future.