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Psychology and elite performance in sport and business

 

Introduction:

The recent Leaders in Performance conference at Chelsea FC, brought together an impressive selection of the best sport science and sports medicine professionals, from across the globe. It was an opportunity to network and exchange ideas about best practice, latest scientific developments, and various performance systems used by the different sports codes, including international and Premiership football (soccer) teams, American football (NFL), basketball (NBA), rugby union, UK Athletics, GB cycling, Formula One motor racing and many more.

Performance skills:

Various invited speakers talked about their approaches to optimising performance and the role that sport science is playing in elite performance. There was a very strong emphasis on physical, technical and tactical preparation, as well as the role that nutrition is playing in performance. At the elite level, however, most of the speakers agreed that all of this is only going to come to fruition if their players can execute and apply their skills in high pressure situations. Hence, the role of psychology as a performance factor was highlighted continuously. Andy Barr, Head of Performance Therapy at the New York Knicks (NBA), and Gerry Ramodiga, Head of Performance Therapy at UK Athletics and the Seattle Seahawks (NFL) both emphasised that although they almost had all possible sports science support systems in place, they still needed to add regular sport psychology to their respective setups as a priority. Dr Steve Peters from GB cycling talked about the work he was doing with cyclists such as 3 time Olympic gold medallist, Sir Chris Hoy and illustrated how psychology has developed as a science to assist elite athletes under pressure.

Facilitative skills:

In addition to performance skills, psychology also plays a very important role as a facilitative skill i.e. to create an environment and culture in which people can perform optimally. Not only is this important in elite sports, but also in the business environment. Kevin Plank, CEO of the billion-dollar-a-year sports clothing company Under Armour highlighted a) sound values, b) healthy attitudes, c) surrounding yourself with like-minded people (i.e. the importance of selecting and employing the right person) and d) clear communication as key elements of their success. Geoff McGrath, Managing Director at McLaren Applied Technologies, also emphasised the role which sound organisational values play in innovation and performance. All of these are factors that can be incorporated and facilitated through good psychological intervention.

Conclusion:

At LPP Consulting, not only are we aware of the major role that psychology is playing in elite performance (sports or business), but we have been delivering these services and results over the past three years in various elite sports and multi-national business settings. At the top level there is a fine line between winning and losing and between being successful or being average. That is why our aim is to help individuals and organisations to enhance their performance under pressure by focusing on these relevant foundation, performance and facilitative skills. A combination of appropriate psychometric assessment instruments, empirical evidence and a team of expert clinicians give us the ability to help people optimise their health, enhance their performance and make a meaningful difference. For more information on how we do this, please see the LPP Consulting website – ‘Our Services’.

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