26 Jan Psychological Profiling
With completion of the initial physical tests and phase one of training under way, focus now turns toward examining and training psychological qualities. This begins with a measurement of my current capacity and awareness, and the introduction of another member of the team.
“If your why is strong enough you will find the how”
Working closely with the Performance Manager and myself, the Performance Psychologist co-ordinates the delivery of an approach that is not only physically, but mentally achievable. The psychologist will monitor my mental well-being and ensure that the project is kept on track through an exhaustive programme of strategies and solutions.
Dr Philip Clarke, Performance Psychologist on the Fastest Cycle Across Europe team, explains the science behind training the mind for multi-day endurance events.
PRELIMINARY TESTING – The first step in supporting an athlete towards successfully achieving a goal is to understand their drives for completing the event. The initial psychology session ascertains the “why” behind Leigh’s decision to complete this world record attempt, it is only with this in place that a strategy can be built to facilitate the “how”. Determining a solid “why” is essential given the severity of the challenge ahead, to make certain of this, we must develop Leigh’s self-awareness skills.
Whatever happens on the event, we’ll have a strategy to incorporate
Understanding Leigh’s extrinsic and intrinsic drives provides a concise resource of unique motivations, from which the performance team can personalise psychological tools for Leigh in every adverse situation.
PERFORMANCE PROFILE -Performance profiling helps athletes identify the most important personal qualities necessary to achieve success in a particular event. This also helps recognise personal strengths and weaknesses. Such profiling not only develops self-awareness but is crucial in allowing the team to monitor changes in psychological qualities over a prolonged period of time. Quantifying these changes provides evidence of progress and can be used to motivate the athlete toward achieving their target.
This task involves 5 steps:
Step 1: Identify the key characteristics that the athlete feels are most important for success in this event
Step 2: Provide specific, detailed descriptions of exactly what is meant by each concept
Step 3: Ascertain the athlete’s current ability of each characteristic on a scale of one to ten
Step 4: Identify where they want to be on the same scale
Step 5: Calculate the discrepancy between values from steps three and four
Psychological profiling not only gives a performance psychologist a better insight into an athlete, but from it, tailored and specific interventions can be developed. The implementation of interventions and continual revision of this process will ensure that, by June, when Leigh gets to that start line in Portugal, he is mentally prepared for the challenge that lays ahead.
Throughout the preparation and the attempt, I will be bringing you weekly behind the scenes videos and blogs, documenting what it takes to prepare for a world record. Next week I’ll be looking back at my seven year round the world cycle adventure, how it prepared me for this, and why I am attempting The Fastest Cycle Across Europe.