How are the best athletes in the world able to function under the immense pressure of competition? By harnessing the potential of their minds to train smart, stay committed, focus, and deliver winning performances with body and mind when the time is right.
This book is about getting into a winning state of body and mind for your performance – whatever that might be – sales pitches, presentations, leadership, strategic thinking, delivery, and more.
In What Business Can Learn From Sport Psychology you will develop the most important weapon you need to succeed in business: your mental approach to performance. This book reveals the secrets of the winning mind by exploring the strategies and techniques used by the most successful athletes and professionals on the planet.
Who this Book is for
This book is for any business person who wants to develop their
business skills and deliver peak business performance. Performers in
other fields, such as the arts and academia, will also benefit from
What Business Can Learn From Sport Psychology.
This book is for any business person who wants to develop their business skills and deliver peak business performance. Performers in other fields, such as the arts and academia, will also benefit from What Business Can Learn From Sport Psychology.
Who are the authors?
Dr Martin Turner is a Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology in the School of Psychology, Sport and Exercise at Staffordshire University. Martin is an active researcher and a Chartered practitioner psychologist. He consults with professional athletes, teams, and coaches, and works extensively with business professionals and management in multinational organizations.
Dr Jamie Barker is Associate Professor of Applied Performance Psychology at Staffordshire University, and a Chartered psychologist. Jamie is an active researcher and contributor to the Centre for Sport, Health, and Exercise Research (CSHER), works with business leaders and professionals across many disciplines, and is the co-author of the acclaimed Bennion Kearny title: The Psychology of Cricket: Developing Mental Toughness, amongst others.
What is Sport Psychology?
Sport psychology is a rapidly growing discipline in which scientific and well documented psychological principles are applied to sport. In other words, it is based on evidence from scientific research and is used to help athletes, coaches, and anybody else involved in sport, to be the best that they can be.
Sport is an ideal place to apply and study psychology, as it reflects a natural laboratory where individuals must undergo extremely tough training schedules, and ultimately produce skilled performances when it matters most - under the utmost pressure - if they are to reach their goals and survive at the top.
Because athletes often have to function under extreme pressure, sport psychologists have learned a great deal about how the human ability to thrive - when the going gets tough - can be developed and nurtured. Indeed, athletes (like all human beings) are not born with the ability to deal with the high demands of performance; this ability is better described as a set of skills that can be learned and developed, so long as the motivation to succeed is strong enough.
What can Sport Psychology do for business professionals?
Amongst the many things we have learned about how athletes make it to, and remain, at the top, is that the skills they learn and develop are not reserved for the sporting arena. That is, anyone can use the principles of sport psychology in their day to day lives to help achieve peak performance.
But if there is one domain where sport psychology principles can make a difference, it is the business domain. Successful performance in sport is largely about being able to perform well in tough situations; the same can be said in business. Successful sport performance involves the bringing together of complex skills and abilities directed towards achieving specific and meaningful goals and targets and it is the same in business.
To reach the top, athletes must develop a resilient mindset that withstands setbacks and which remains focused in the face of pressure. These are just some of the many psychological similarities between sport and business.
Business people love sport, not only for the marketing and sponsorship opportunities it brings but also because it allows business people to live vicariously through the exploits of others. With most major sports sponsorships - if you look deeply enough - you will find a detailed business case conveniently supporting the idea of sponsoring the Managing Director’s favourite sport or team. The London Olympics showed how business people and sports people can not only work together to produce an amazing games but also how they can both learn from each other as well as recognise how much they have in common. This works both ways as the concepts of Kaizen (The Japanese approach to continuous improvement pioneered in the 1960s and 1970s) and GE’s Six Sigma approach are very similar to British Cycling’s concept of looking for hundreds of minor improvements to lead to competitive advantage.
Technological changes over the past 5-10 years have made a significant difference to the pressures faced by individuals in their working lives. This has meant that there is a lot less certainty and job security as jobs are more easily moved to the cheapest location or replaced by technology completely. People are also finding it more difficult to switch off as they can now access their emails at any time of the day or night in any part of the world. These two factors, together with many more, have led to increased levels of reported stress and even depression amongst the workforce as people struggle to cope with the perceived demands.
Sport and the lessons of high performance in sport offer great opportunities to engage and motivate employees to both manage the stresses of working as well as improve their own performance. In both sport and business there is a tendency to prioritise technical or physical training over the mental aspects of the game or business approach. The majority of ‘Leadership Programmes’, especially those run by large business schools, are watered down MBAs with little focus on real leadership. In sport there is a lot of talk about how ‘it is all in the mind’ at this level but little evidence of structured and planned training plans for improving the mind’s ability to cope. The feelings and physical reactions an individual experiences in the lead up to an important interview for a job they really want, or a game they feel they must win, are the same. In this way the football managers who used to criticise players who admitted to feeling stressed by saying ‘They should see what it’s like to face redundancy’ are wrong. To the body and mind it’s the same.
Martin and Jamie’s book is a valuable contribution to helping business understand how we can support our employees to achieve their potential and manage difficult situations. Most leaders in business will have faced situations where there is a star sales person, software engineer, or trader, who is disruptive to the team and faced the dilemma of how to manage this. Leaders will all have had people in their teams who have great potential but don’t seem to deliver when it matters due to nerves or a lack of confidence. Leaders will have people in their teams who have great vision and talent but lack the ability to turn this into actions and deliverables. Martin and Jamie have provided some great tools and approaches that will allow these leaders and individuals to address these issues in accessible and practical ways. I strongly believe that there is enormous untapped potential amongst our workforce and that our current leadership approaches are getting in the way of unleashing this potential. This book is a great contribution to the journey towards creating an environment for people to thrive - whatever the circumstances.
Senior Vice President