What separates good from great? Why do some perform in the clutch moments while others fall short?
Joel Curtis is a sports psychologist who aims to unlock an athlete’s peak mental performance.
Athletes are known for the physical prowess, for amazing feats of strength and endurance. But what often separates the best from the rest is what goes on between the ears.
There’s a reason a team with Johnathan Thurston is never out of the game. A reason why a team led by Richie McCaw always has more in them.
Those types of players have built immense mental strength that allows them to not only perform on the big stage but inspire their team to as well.
Joel says that those players who have great mental strength do so due to a combination of factors.
They have experience, trust in their own abilities and belief in themselves.
A player like Johnathan Thurston can perform when it matters because he focuses on the controllables.
Often when we see a player unable to perform on the big stage, it is due to one of two factors.
- They either overplay their hand, trying to do too much and are concentrating far too hard on the scoreboard.
- They don’t have full trust and faith in their abilities to do the job.
Joel says the great athletes, when the pressure is on, go through a routine or a number of steps in their head. They know they may not win the event in one play or one performance, but if they simply concentrate on executing their skill or plan, they’ll emerge victorious.
When I spoke to World Champion discus thrower Dani Stevens, she said her best throws were when she was only concentrating on executing a good throw. Her worst throws were when she was trying to reach a certain distance, which caused her to be tense and unable to produce the power needed.
In this interview Joel goes through what he coaches athletes to do, how the greats perform when needed, and why sports psychology is important for coaches and players alike.