Episode 112 | Annie Vernon: Mind Games

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In Episode #112 of the LEO Training Podcast, I interview world champion and Olympic Silver Medallist Annie Vernon.

Annie is the author of the book, Mind Games: Determination, Doubt and Lucky Socks – the psychology of elite athletes .

The book aims to show how elite athletes train their mental skills in exactly the same way that they train their physical skills. Our chat takes you through some of the key elements from her book as well as her experience as a world class rower.

Enjoy the show!


Interview Topics:

Chapter 3 | Coming to Violence over Trivial Pursuit. Competitiveness and Elite Athletes

  • Everyday there is a spreadsheet working for you.
    • Athletes are very used to having a lot of their training tracked such as HR, sleep, sleep quality, flexibility, ergo scores, 1x or 2- racing, 
    • Why objective judgement is the critical part of the jigsaw.
    • Intrinsic vs. external competitiveness and why the internal opponent is tougher than the external one.
    • Why competitiveness is dangerous if nothing is ever ‘good enough’. How can or does this spill over from sport to life and why may this be a negative. P 70.

Chapter 4 | Choosing Training Over Cold Turkey. Motivation and Happiness

  • When you were 17 you rowed because you loved it and enjoyed the internal motivation of getting better and having fun. Moving to international competition it switched to extrinsic as the focus and goal became success and winning. Let’s discuss how you and others keep training over years and years and finding the motivation to do evolves as times goes on. Winning is addictive and staying at the top. – Pinsent and Grainger P 86-87
  • Frances Houghton. P 91 Why shifting motivation and freeing oneself from stress can release higher performance.
  • Happiness in elite sport is different from happiness in everyday life. Why is this a critical piece for non athletes to understand and how it can impact friendships, family and relationships?

Chapter 5 | Personality. Every family has an odd member, and if you don’t know who it is, it’s probably you

  • The Three Step Theory of Athlete Personality
    • 1. Boredom Threshold
    • 2. Mind control
    • 3.mindfulness and reflection
  • Why mental skills are different for each sport
  • Pain and pain tolerance

Chapter 6 | The Confidence Wand. Sourcing, building, maintaining, and utilising confidence

  • Confidence doesn’t mean not self questioning, but it maybe means not self-criticizing
  • World class work ethic and moderating it
  • Over vs under comfidence and riding the line

Chapter 7 | How to be Tarzan, How to be Jane

  • Anna Watkins. Hyped up vs. anxiety. Finding the right balance to perform
  • Performing med ball slams on race day
  • Training your brain to deliver your routine under any cicumstance
  • Brainwashing and switching off for your best performane
  • What is ‘red mist’ moment?
  • How Pinsent and Redgrave raced on their ‘worst days’ and Why

Chapter 9 | Becoming a Carrot Farmer. Coaching

  • Athlete qualities vs. coaching qualities
  • ‘The line betwen coaching and therapy is tiny.” – Adrian Cassidy
  • All the responsibility but no power over outcome wants competition begins.
  • Telling others what to do and giving athletes ownership of themselves.
  • CD Player story about you from Adrian Cassidy
  • Coaching from the inside out
  • Do you take the right tools out of the toolbox, at the right time? – Stuart Lancaster

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Show Notes: