Five Cardinal Mental Skills to Winning


ACSM SwimThe American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) advocates a mental skills model, the “emergence of mind-body practice …. into a holistic conceptualization of health and well-being”.  This approach to Sport Psychology is more than a mental construct, but rather an integrated approach to higher goals in everything from diet through exercise through greater achievement in sports goals.  The concept of Five Cardinal Skills  has “impacted industry trends, training of fitness professionals, and expectations [of the end users].”

Thus we’re seeing training certifications that go into further reaches of the traditional coach to “Health Coach”, “Wellness Coach”, “Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant”.  It seems that the traditional trainer role has expanded to include a larger portion of what we used to consider a “trainer”, now becoming more someone aligned with a life-style approach.

In this mode of thinking, according to ACSM “Incorporating a Mental Skills Model” there are five mental practices that have become paramount.

Relaxation: Can reduce anxiety and reduce heart rate, blood pressure and tension.

Concentration: During an important activity to maintain focus and attention has a large influence on performance.

Mental Imagery: The process of recreating the experience in the mind.  The coach that says “Play the tape in your head” before the race, again reducing anxiety, improving self confidence and awareness.

Self-Talk:  The words you use while performing or before performing the task has a direct impact, working through your unconscious mind while going about your business.

Routine:  This is really important in so many ways; the entering into a [competitive state of mind], predictability, consistency, accountability.  Just the process, repeated daily, in exactly the same way and same sequence, is enough to establish a firm foundation.

We often forget that these simple things will probably get us where we’re going in a straighter trajectory than a somewhat unfocused practice.  These things have been used by competitive athletes for many years…they are becoming more important in the day-to-day lives of those seeking greater life fitness.