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Mental preparation in Olympic weightlifting

Summary of interviews with non-elite Olympic weightlifters on mental techniques and skills they use to improve their performance.

Who

7 non-elite Olympic weightlifters (2 females, 5 males) aged 24.1 ± 3.2 years (Cyprus). Athletes had on average 3 years of experience and competed at least once in the national competition (5 athletes competed internationally).

Design

In-depth semi-structured interviews

Outcome measures

  • Perceptions on mental preparation

Main results

  • All athletes thought that mental preparation in important, especially during competition.

  • Some athletes thought that there is a connection between mental state and performance / physical state. They thought that if you are not ready mentally, you will not be able to utilise what your body can do.

  • Two main themes from the inteviews were:

    • “mental techniques” - factors allowing to feel prepared:
      • “extrinsic self-confidence”
      • “intrinsic self-confidence”
      • “self-efficacy”
      • “mistake coping”
      • “consistency”
      • “competing against self”
      • “emotional arousal”

Olympic weightlifting mental preparation factors

  • “mental skills” - processes to prepare mentally:
    • “imagery”
    • “self-talk”
    • “routine”
    • “distance”
    • “focus”
    • “push for maximum”
    • “sense arousal”
    • “arousal control”

Olympic weightlifting mental preparation processes

  • all athletes recognised “mistake coping” as important, as it relates to performance, but did not name specific processes to achieve it.
  • external vs internal comfidence were mentioned by the athletes. As internal confidence was described as more important, athletes should audit their reliance on social environment for confidence.
  • avoiding others (opponents) was considered vital
  • almost all athletes used audio-visual materials like slow-motion videos of lifts.
  • overuse of “push for maximum” may promote overuse of the body and injuries, therefore should be used wisely.
  • imagery was used by all non-elite athletes in this study, but each person had a preference to use either external of internal imagery. Olympic-level athletes has shown to use both types.
  • ability to “focus” used by all athletes was also recognised in the literature as a skill separating successful from unsuccessful athletes.
  • breathing (especially deep breathing) was used to control arousal.

Take home message

For a clinician
Non-elite Olympic weightlifters are using imagery, self-talk, mistake coping and focus as metal preparation to help their performance. They could benefit from extending the imagery to use both external and internal imagery, and learning techniques to control arousal and cope with mistakes.
For a parent
Non-elite Olympic weightlifters are using imagery, self-talk, mistake coping and focus as metal preparation to help their performance. They could benefit from extending the imagery to use both external and internal imagery, and learning techniques to control arousal and cope with mistakes.
For an athlete
Non-elite Olympic weightlifters are using imagery, self-talk, mistake coping and focus as metal preparation to help their performance. They could benefit from extending the imagery to use both external and internal imagery, and learning techniques to control arousal and cope with mistakes.

Original article

Phylactou P. Inside the Mind of Weightlifters: The Mental Preparation of Greek-Cypriot Olympic-Style Weightlifting Athletes.Journal of European Psychology Students. 2019;10(1):1-5.

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