New book tells how to spot a world champion athlete

五月 28, 2002

Brussels, May 2002

Leadership, confidence and mental toughness are among the main psychological qualities which keep athletes like Ian Thorpe, Tiger Woods and Venus Williams at the top of their professions, says the author of a new book on sports psychology.

Ellis Cashmore - professor in culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University in the UK - profiles sporting personalities in his book 'Sports Psychology - The Key Concepts', which was published two weeks ago by Routledge.

In his book, Mr Cashmore argues that athletes at the top level of their sport are so similar in terms of physical condition and skill level that psychological qualities make the major difference between the champions and the runners up.

"Improvements in our knowledge of nutrition, training, lifestyle factors and performance enhancing support, such as hypnotism, biofeedback and cognitive modification, have led to an equalisation," he said. "The differences in capacity between top athletes is minute. So, the athlete with the psychological edge usually ends up the winner."

Psyching out the competition

The book lists a number of sporting heroes and explains, among other things, what one 'winning' psychological characteristic best represents each of them.

For example, under the characteristic 'aggressiveness', he puts the American boxer, Mike Tyson.

Steve Waugh, the Australian cricket captain, is noted for his 'cognition'.

While Tiger Woods, the world's number one golfer, is lauded for his 'composure' under pressure. Marion Jones, the American Olympics gold medallist in track and field is recognised for her 'confidence'. And US champion, Venus Williams, is accredited for her 'intelligence' on the tennis court. The giant New Zealand rugby player, Jonah Lomu, is noteworthy according to Mr Cashmore for his 'intensity'. While 'focus' is the characteristic most attributed to the young Australian swimming sensation, Ian Thorpe. England football captain, David Beckham, is acknowledged for his sporting 'intelligence', and sheer 'mental toughness' goes to Formula One racer, Michael Schumacher. Lastly, the Tour de France winner, American Lance Armstrong, is represented by the psychological characteristic 'motivation'.




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