Recently I was asked by a journalist the following questions about my work with Olympic sailors. The following were my replies:
What key needs did you focus on in the lead up to this Olympics.
i)Optimising information processing efficiency between Coach & Athletes during trainings, pre regattas & with debriefings. But also in finessing the language used between helm & crew particularly during heat of battle.
ii)Establishing routines & processes – systemising their approach pre race days, pre race, between races & post races. Assists with optimising preparation both physical & mental prior to a regatta & helps with resetting between races.
iii)Raising self awareness – helping the athlete understand their performance strengths & their behavioural tendencies. Heightening awareness allows us to work on strategies & interventions for improvement or change that may be necessary to enable improved performance outcomes.
What interventions are you most proud of? may have been impactful for the athlete? Or game-changing in terms of their development or performance?
i)Ultimately it was helping them understand the connection between “what they see, what they think & what they do” so that they learn that mental preparation & one’s mindset influences performance outcomes. My staff and I developed programs specifically for Cognitive Training using the Dynavision and the Versus. If you would like to know more about my cognitive training either get in contact or watch this space….
ii)Professionaising their approach – mentoring their dedication to the smaller incidentals that contribute to readiness to train & compete but also their wellbeing. This covers their dedication to weight gain & behavioural changes required for their eating; monitoring sleep; monitoring & managing mood & energy levels; role delegation & role appreciation with day to day management of household chores, boat equipment maintenance & regatta planning.
What would you like the public to know about a psychologist’s work in this sport?
That our roles are all consuming. From liaising & mediating with NSOs, coaches & other Scientists etc to travelling with Athletes & forging strong bonds with athletes/coaches in order to embed an ability to be able to utilise that relationship to impact change.
Any particularly memorable moments or funny anecdotes you would like to share about your time together with these athletes/this sport?
Travelling with the athletes & creating a fun yet hard working culture in how we went about our preparation for a regatta. Taking them sight seeing & sharing historical information about the location & connecting relevance to their own journeys; being silly & teaching them humour when little things go awry eg when a shared toilet got blocked & making it a fun challenge to source tools & to sing when fixing it. When there was a sailing accident & the boat had to be fixed & we all got busy in our roles staying up late & somehow I screwed up simply cooking rice. The highs & the lows all contributing to understanding that the little things count. That it’s how we work on ourselves & each other as well as mastering our craft. High performance can bring out the best & worst in you. We don’t have to be perfect but we have to be dedicated & forgiving, & dedicating to forgiving. And always trying to find a way to laugh.