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SportMap sets path for young athletes



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The next workshop speaker was Dr. Dana Sinclair, a sports psychologist who gave a presentation on motivation, planning and goal setting. While most athletes are dedicated to learning skills and training the body, she believes athletes are neglecting the mental skills that matter most when they are called upon to perform.

"If you talk to any successful athlete, ask them how much of what they do is mental, they’ll tell you 75 per cent, 80 per cent," said Dr. Sinclair. "Good mental preparation is something that every great athlete has in common. It’s the way they prepare for a competition, what is going through their minds up in the start gate, the way they handle adversity, that gets them to the top."

She took athletes and coaches through a series of exercises athletes can use to self-regulate their mental processes leading up to and during a competition, including technical cues, what you tell yourself, visioning exercises, and behaviours that build confidence.

"You can wake up in the morning and everything feels good, everything works, but how often does this happen?" Dr. Sinclair asked. "Can you count on it? The answer is no. Sometimes competing is the last thing you feel like doing, but you’re not going to have a choice.

"The key is mental toughness, the ability to perform to your potential any time, anywhere. It’s confidence."

Following Dr. Sinclair, the group broke up into three training and competing seminars: one for athletes with Olympic physiotherapist Allison Megeney and strength and conditioning specialist Neil Purves; one for coaches with Dr. Sinclair; and one for parents with Lynda Cannell, the director of SportMedBC since its creation in 1982. Cannell’s presentation was called "Parenting an Elite Athlete," and was tailored to help parents foster mental, physical and technical skills in their children while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

SportMedBC develops and co-ordinates educational programs and services for the provincial sport system by connecting coaches, athletes and sports medicine practitioners.

Following the seminars and a dinner break, Whistler’s Britt Janyk gave a short speech relating her own experiences on her way to the national ski team.

"There are always times when you feel frustrated or disappointed in yourself and wonder what you’re doing out there. When that happens I always take a second to remember why I got into racing in the first place, and that’s because I love to ski and I love the mountains. And racing is just another aspect of skiing."