Jonathan Pye Publisher Peak Performance How important is psychological training to sports performance? I am about to demonstrate why psychological preparation is as crucial to success as training, recovery, kit, hydration and nutrition. No longer is sports psychology regarded by coaches and athletes as a subject for wimps needing an excuse for poor performance. Ten or fifteen years ago, that might have still been the case, but the adoption of ‘mind coaches’ (otherwise known as ‘mental game coaches’) by top athletes like Tiger Woods and professional sports clubs throughout the world soon put paid to that. Today sports psychology is recognised as an essential component of sporting success. That’s because, the more accomplished the athlete, the bigger the role the mind plays in performance. After all, if you’re a beginner in a sport, you’re probably still working on mastering a basic competence in physical skills and not worrying about your mind game. Moreover, we now know that it’s not simply a question of harnessing the power of the mind to achieve peak performance on the day of a big event. The correct mindset must underpin an athlete’s efforts all year round. After all, the best-designed training regime won’t help if you’re not sufficiently focused and motivated to follow it, week in and week out – or if you’re liable to ‘choke’ at the critical point in major competitions because you haven’t done the proper mental preparation for the event. That’s why research into sports psychology has accelerated considerably in recent years, mirroring its more general acceptance amongst the sporting community. Today, sports scientists are scaling new heights in their understanding of the mental factors that underpin peak performance – and, equally, those factors that can undermine it. I strongly feel this is an area athletes must pay considerable attention to if they want to achieve real success and the fact I have commissioned two separate reports on the subject of sports psychology really highlights that belief.