Time to Read

6 Minutes

Points of Interest

  • Balancing mental and physical training
  • Mental training techniques
  • The competitive mindset


When it comes to professional and top athletes, maintaining healthy psychological state is as important as physical health!

Negative psychological circumstances can lead to mental barriers, causing disputes in focus and development, reduced performance and, in many cases, injuries.


A Balancing Act

Athletes can drastically improve their careers and lives when they achieve the perfect balance between these two aspects of human existence.

Dedicating a few minutes daily to special psychological exercise techniques can greatly impact your overall state and readiness.

If an athlete is facing psychological barriers, this can create physical disorders such as muscles cramping, shivering and raised perspiration. To fight these dominant effects, coaches and athletes can focus in their preparation period on various tactics such as goal setting methods, visualisation and determination.

Some athletes, who maybe are not as trained or physically strong as their competitors, can still activate their inner strength and become winners.

Certainly, not everyone can win at the Olympic games, but, a vital point here is the right combination and balance of psychological and physical training.

An athlete that gives 100% in their physical training and doesn’t forget the psychological aspect of the training, has a much greater advantage and chance of becoming a winner!

The 5 brainwaves

Our brain contains a partial electrical quantity like any computer device. In our brain, there are several million neurons. Scientists have calculated that we are born with around 80 million.

Our brain is able to store information which is can use for decisions and problem solving. Unlike the computer, the brain works at a frequency that is not alternating, sometimes electrical stimuli are transported faster, sometimes slower and divided into five cycles.

  1. Delta - occurs when we come to deep sleep.
  2. Theta - occurs when we are deeply relaxed
  3. Alpha - occurs when we are relaxed
  4. Beta - occurs when we are alerted and focused
  5. Gamma - occurs when there is a requirement of high performance

Now, 95% of people utilise lower Beta frequency, and only 5% uses the Alpha frequency. For some people this happens naturally, but anyone can develop this skill by training your brain.

The brain exercise techniques for entering and staying on the Alpha level

The power of affirmation has been a subject of many studies and various sports psychologists recommend it. You can talk to a professional or get informed on affirmation techniques for athletes by performing wider research on this subject. The research on its own is already a sort of mental training. Among others, Mental training for peak performance is a popular book on this subject.


If you are looking for an example of affirmation techniques, here’s a simple exercise:

  1. Repeat the following words: Every day I become better, better and better
  2. Then say to yourself: "I’ll count from 1 to 5, when I get to number 5 I will open my eyes and I feel very good and very healthy. Much better than before."
  3. Slowly count backwards from 100 to 1 with the frequency of seconds.
  4. When you reach number 1, concentrate on imagining your success. For the easiest application remember the last time you felt your greatest success. Try to recall the whole stage of this success and feel that you have evolved.
  5. When you wake up in the morning, remember the best feeling you had after achieving a personal record.

The importance of numbers

Our mind can not relax completely if our body is not relaxed. The reverse counting makes us relaxed while the normal counting is activating us. Counting 3, 2, 1 calms us, while counting 1, 2, 3 is the same as saying ready, get set, go.

Now, imagining yourself to be relaxed is an extremely good approach to really becoming relaxed. This image creates a perfect combination of relaxation and motivation for success! The words we repeat in a relaxed state activate all parts of our brain.

With these techniques, you will be able to be stress-free, have better physical training and get completely ready for the race! Also, use your mind training for quicker recovery after injuries, and keep your body in good shape regardless of your age! You can improve your technique and results by training your mind. With these special psychological techniques in combination with your physical exercise you will progress like the best athletes in the world.

Visualisation technique

Visualisation is a technique that works miracles for many champions. Visualising the achievement of a specific goal or finishing the race with the glorious feeling of victory, to our brain feels like an actual event. Now you can add small details, such as the sound of your shoes, people cheering, colours, outfit or texture of the athletic track…

When we give these detailed images to our brain, it produces different sorts of positive reactions within the body, on both a physical and psychological level. These moments are really motivating because there’s almost no difference in the brain’s reaction whether we are visualising or actually living the moment. Our brain can’t tell the difference between real or imagined success.

It’s extremely good for us to remember our best results and how we felt when we achieved them. Reaching for that specific emotion can activate the will to achieve it again and become even better!

Positive impact of competitive mind

Many psychologist wrote about the impact of competitive thinking in sports. Competitive spirit is something natural to humans and if used properly, it can serve as a great motivator.

However, there are many talented athletes who lack the right amount of competitive spirit.

If you are not naturally competitive, then you can practice your competitive spirit by setting goals and competing against your latest record. This will place your focus on beating your own best result, which will lead you to perfecting and improving your performance in each next competition.

Conclusion: We should train our minds with equal passion as we train our bodies!

Understanding an athlete’s psychology is something that we as humans have been exploring and studying from the times of ancient Olympic games in Greece.

The saying, “Healthy body, healthy spirit”, emphasises the importance of physical training and how it balances with mental well-being. Today we know that the emphasis should not be placed on the physical training alone.

About The Author

Apollonas G. Kapsalis is a personal trainer, nutritional therapist and founder of www.greekgoesketo.com

April 01, 2019 — Apollonas Kapsalis

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