The Benefits of Mental Management by Eadaoin Ni Challarain – Irish Olympic Canoe Competitor
I met Lanny Bassham two years after competing in my first Olympic Games (Sydney 2000) and, by then, I was desperately searching for real ways to train my mind for top level performance. I was familiar with many sports psychology techniques and had read avidly, any material I could find on the sporting mind. What I had not found was a good approach that focused solely on winning, until I discovered Mental Management. Now, I have an effective system to train my mind. Every session I do involves training my mind to allow my body to perform optimally, and it is working.
I race in Canoe-Slalom. My event is a sprint race, of up to 110 seconds, on a whitewater river. The aim of the game is to go fast from start to finish and to go clean through hanging poles called gates above the river, where a time penalty is incurred with a touch or miss. There are many variables to this sport. Races are held on different rivers that can vary hugely in character. The gates and path of the race go up the night before the event and so practice is all in the mind. We get two runs - no practice. This is a mind game above all else.
What I have learned, specific to my sport, but applicable to most, is that I can change my habits and attitudes, for example, I have changed a nervousness I previously had to upstream in the flow( a particular technique in canoe-slalom), to a confidence now, that this is a strength of mine and it has become an edge.
I work constructively now to reinforce the aspects of my training and life that build me as a winner. I have a clear vision of were I am going and how. I race with a clearer and more focused mind. My results are better. Mental Management has been, and continues to be a vital tool for me in my quest to winning in my sport. I just hope my competitors don't hear about it!