How Athletes Train Their Minds for the Olympics

Sports psychologists weigh in on the challenges of being among the best in the world

Curse at Self-Doubt

“Physiologically, our bodies like to respond to Olympic moments as if we are in danger. This is much like how your body responds when you watch a scary movie. You might calm yourself down by telling yourself, ‘It’s just a movie.’ Well, athletes also remind themselves that they aren’t in danger by altering their outlook about the pressure, focusing attention on the strengths they have implemented to achieve high-level performance and talking, or even cursing, at the self-doubt. The athletes who tend to run into performance problems are the ones who don’t hold themselves accountable to any sort of positive action, and instead go through the motions of a performance, with their body out there competing but their mind disconnected—as if they are watching themselves compete and hanging back to see what the result might be.”

Caroline Silby, sports psychologist for the U.S. Figure Skating Team at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games

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