An In-depth Look at Mental Training as Perceived by 2012 Canadian Olympic Athletes




Quinlan, Alison

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This study examined four Canadian Olympic athletes’ attitudes towards mental training and their implementation strategies before, during, and after the 2012 London Olympics. This study interviewed four athletes who competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Athletes were represented from rowing, swimming and track and field. Their interviews were written-up as in-depth narratives to provide a rich, insight into these athletes’ perspectives and unique experiences. The narratives were analyzed individually and were then compared and contrasted across all four. Regarding the current attitudes of the athletes, all athletes interviewed expressed a positive attitude towards mental training. However, they differed in their underlying beliefs as to whether this was a fundamental or supplementary component to their preparation and subsequent performance. Themes that emerged as influencing the development of these attitudes include prior experience and maturity of the athlete. In regards to their implementation methods, the athletes all used mental training but their approach ranged from implementing holistically to a narrower approach. Future research should investigate the different factors that may impact an athletes’ attitude towards mental training such as team versus individual sport, gender, and years of experience. Additionally, exploring what a holistic mental training plan would look like compared to a supplementary approach and whether they result in differences in athlete performance.



mental training, Olympic athletes, Sport psychology, Narratives