Mental Skills & the Preparation Strategies of Olympic Gold Medalists – I

Olympic Gold Medal by disneymike.

Podium Sports Journal’s Podcast of the Week – An interview with Drs. Noah Gentner and Vanessa Shannon

by Dr. Stephen Walker, CC-AASP

Sport Psychologists recognize the importance of mental skills and preparation strategies before key athletic events.  Most athletes understand that these things are important as well.  But, what do these athletes actually do to prepare and keep themselves at the top of their game when the Olympics only come around once every four years.  Podium Sports Journal features key articles and research that illustrate how mental skills contribute to athletic and coaching success.  Qualitative research is unique in that it requires several interviews with the athlete over time.  In each interview, the medalists were asked to review certain aspects of their training and the Olympic experience which they believe contributed to their success.

This podcast was the first of a two part podcast with Dr. Noah Gentner and Dr. Vanessa Shannon on qualitative research they conducted with Olympic Gold medalists from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.  The interview was given at the Association for Applied Sport Psychology annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky October 2007.

This study evolved over a number of years in a series of interviews focused on identifying and describing the mental techniques and preparation strategies used by world champions.  The key exploration focused on how these premier athletes differed from those less successful athletes in their preparation and mental conditioning.  A total of nine male and female athletes from six different sports comprised the sample for this qualitative research effort.  Some of the techniques employed included self-talk, attention cues, process focused physical moves, smart “techniques”, short-term and long-term goals.  Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of this interview.

Dr. Noah Gentner is a sport psychologist consultant in Toronto, Canada having moved recently from an Asst. Professor in Applied Sport Psychology from Georgia Southern University.  Dr. Vanessa Shannon is a coaching education specialist and Assistant Professor at West Virginia University.  Both were students of Dr. Craig Wrisberg  and Leslie Fisher Gould at the University of Tennessee.



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