Performance Mind Academy – Open For Business

The following is an article provided by Palatinate.

How many times have you seen an athlete fail to perform under pressure?

On an individual level, Jana Novotna snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the 1993 Wimbledon Final, losing from 4-1 up in the final set against Steffi Graf. Three years later, Greg Norman collapsed in similar fashion at the Masters, losing a six stroke lead to Nick Faldo after carding a disastrous final round 78.

It can happen to collectives, too. The South African cricket team are perennial underachievers at tournaments. Despite being one of the best-performing nations across all formats of the game, the Proteas have only ever won one knockout match at a World Cup.

Witnessing world class athletes, in the heat of battle, all of a sudden consumed by an inability to perform to their maximum, is a fascinating sight. It’s also a reminder of the importance of mentality in sport.

Yogi Berra, the legendary New York Yankees baseball player, once famously said that his sport is “ninety percent mental and the other half physical.” Despite Yogi’s obvious mathematical failings, his point is a valid one. Sportspeople are occasionally let down by their bodies, but more often than not they’re let down by their minds. Losing your nerve because of the enormity of the occasion is a mental issue, not a physical one.

Sportspeople are occasionally let down by their bodies, but more often than not they’re let down by their minds.

While the concept of mental toughness may not be a new one, the idea that mental performance can be improved is definitely a modern-day notion. While physical and tactical elements of sport have long been coached, the mental and emotional components were, for a long time, neglected.

The last twenty years, however, have seen an attitude shift – athletes are rightfully more concerned than ever with their mental performance.

In light of this, Team Durham have introduced the Performance Mind Academy. Run by Graeme Foreman, this is a new initiative in 2015/16 which can help people in all fields, from sport to business, enhance their performance and achieve their potential.

The clinic is at Maiden Castle and is open all day from Tuesday to Saturday. Graeme, whose background is in tennis as an ex-player and coach, has lectured in sports science, coaching and psychology. Speaking to Palatinate, he emphasises that there is a correlation between physiology and psychology and the clinic helps athletes to understand how their physiology and psychology affect their performance.

During the sessions Graeme, or some of his colleagues who help run the clinic, will review both your sporting and non-sporting life. This is because on-field performance is influenced by all aspects of daily life – unhappiness with work or at home can translate into a dip in form in whatever sport you pursue. Therefore, at its most basic level, the Performance Mind Academy helps build confidence, manage stress and anxiety and develop positive mindsets.

Performance Mind Academy helps build confidence, manage stress and anxiety and develop positive mindsets.

Furthermore, Greame is a certified Heart Math professional and he can use a number techniques to measure your heart rate variability. He’s also qualified to administer, interpret and feedback Psychometric Assessments on Personality and he uses these to gain an overview during initial assessment before targeting specific areas more profoundly. Mindfulness and visualisation also play a big role in the programme.

“I see the Performance Mind Academy as the missing jigsaw piece in most people’s lives,” says Graeme. “Not everyone is able to bring 100% every time they compete but we can certainly add value to that performance.”

Graeme highlights that the margins in sport can be minute. “Team Sky talk about marginal gains and that 1% increase in performance in the world of sport can be the difference between silver and gold.”

One team who are already reaping the rewards of the Performance Mind Academy Durham are the men’s tennis 1sts. Graeme has been travelling with the squad to away matches this season and has seen them record 12-0 wins against Exeter, Bath and Sterling. DULTC Head Coach, Johnny Binding, has nothing but praise for Graeme and the new initiative:

“Graeme has worked hard with the tennis club over the last few months and the results so far have been pleasing. He has worked closely with several individuals within the club and spent time travelling to support the players both on and off the court.

“He has had a positive influence on the club as a whole, improving the culture and helping us to conduct ourselves in a more professional manner. He has brought his knowledge and expertise of tennis combined with his own psychological interventions to create a base from which players can access. I look forward to working with Graeme throughout the rest of the season to reach our potential as a club.”

In addition, Graeme has been involved with the Hockey Club for over a year. Gareth Weaver-Taylor, an England U21 & Development Coach, as well as the University’s hockey Performance Coach, is delighted that Graeme is now part of the growing support services at Team Durham:

“Working with Graeme for the last twelve months has been a great journey of development in a number of areas from emotional control through to leadership styles. Graeme has introduced a number of strategies to improve me as a coach and as a person.

“I would 100% recommend Graeme to any player and coach within Team Durham; he is an extremely beneficial support structure.”

Performance Mind Academy MOT – Special Palatinate Offer

Session 1: Understand your background and objectives

Session 2: Assess your strengths and areas of development

Session 3: Action plan and follow up support

£25

Book Tuesdays between 9am and 5pm. Valid until January 2016.

Image: Graeme Foreman