Why are more businesses turning to Sports psychology?

Elite sports men and women work on their minds as a much as their bodies. They are well aware that when they get their minds right, superior performance usually follows.

So why don’t business people do the same?

Is it not highly likely that if we also used the tools of sport psychologists in the business environment that we could enhance our performance? In this article I will refer to and quote some of the very best sports minds and phycologists; People like Gilbert Enoka, Enda McNulty, Niamh Fitzpatrick, and Gary Keegan.

Niamh Fitzpatrick who recently spoke on ‘The Sports Chronicle’ quotes:

‘When you come to a field of play, the pool, the track, whatever it is you come as a person first. You come with your sporting talent and your skills but also with your  beliefs, your core values, your personal; characteristics, as well as whatever’s going on in your personal life at the time of play. You’re a person first and an athlete second’

In business the rules are no different. Swap the track or the field for the meeting room or your customers board room.

Another great quote that from Niamh that stood out for me was:

‘To an elite athlete, it’s not just a game. Its your life. You empty your heart and soul into your sport. The wins are euphoric, and the losses are unbelievably tough. It’s so much more than a game. It’s what defines you.’

In business it’s widely known that 70-80% of all employees are dis-engaged from their jobs. During this pandemic that figure has changed because the majority of working people are now working virtually from their homes. However, most employees are now saying that they never want to go back to the office permanently – I wonder why?

How many managers and their employees can honestly say they celebrate each working day and give 100% all of the time?

Gilbert Enoka is not limited to the sports field. An old class mate of mine Barnaby Reddin who emigrated to New Zealand some years back once reminded me that Gilbert is more noted for his success in the board room, as he was integral to the success of New Zealand’s largest real estate firm Harcourts International. Barnaby also tells me that as his General Manager, Gilbert has led the success of ‘Harcourts’ for the past 12 years. In fact Gilbert rarely references his role with the AB’s.

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Here’s a list of the main techniques used by sport psychologists. Peruse them and pick three that you would feel would help you work faster, smarter and better.

  1. Smart Goal Setting

Make sure you set clear, achievable goals that stretch you and your team to perform at your best, then articulate a step by step plan for achieving each of them.

Gilbert Enoka the esteemed New Zealand ‘All Blacks’ Mental Skills Manager for over 250 test matches over a 19 year career transformed the mindset of the losing 2004 & 2007 loosing Rugby World Cup All Black team into back to back World Cup winners.

Gilbert has also worked with the NZ ladies Silver Ferns, and the Crusaders. Gilbert attributes re defining the goals in simple measurable goals – Some as simple as ‘Sweeping the sheds.’ Cleaning out the dressing rooms or meeting rooms after ever training session, game or team meeting. How often have you or your team left a team meeting leaving the room looking like a tornado ran through the room.

  1. Body Language – Winners

How you move greatly affects your mood. Carry yourself like a high performance champion and you’ll begin to ‘Think like a champion’. (For more on this check out Neuro Linguistic Programming).

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We all saw the recent appearance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel give a demonstration of total positivity and high performance body language in her meeting with Boris Johnson. If you have not seen the difference, I suggest you jump on ‘YouTube’ to remind yourself.

  1. Mental Imagery  

Take a few minutes day to mentally ‘see’ moving pictures of you performing superbly.

  1. Breath Control   

When you breath slowly and deeply, your mood never fails to calm down. Breath control is a rarely discussed secret to high performance, yet it’s a critical component of top best sports psychologist Gary Keegan. Bore that next sales meeting, or board room presentation – or Teams / Zoom meeting with your team. Take ten slow deep breaths.

  1. Correct Calm Intensity – Are you calm under pressure?

Monitor your intensity level, making sure it’s just right for the meeting of your next situation. Having a calm demeanour, not too tight, not too relaxed. Good commanders gel different leader to play as one. There are always Formal and Informal leader on the field of play.

  1. Personal Positive affirmation – Expect To Win     

Always speak to yourself and your business teams in a positive, can do, encouraging manner. It also pays to talk to be your own best supporter. If you are not constantly starting each day or meeting in a positive and uplifting manner, or supporting yourself through your internal dialogue. How are you going to positively mentor your team?

  1. Enjoyment  

History will remind you that ‘Business’ is always long game, if you don’t enjoy each day, each week or month then you and your team’s performance will eventually suffer.

Elite Top performers choose to enjoy every moment of every day. Ask Roger Federer, Martina Navratilova, Ruby Walsh, Aidan O’Brien or Johnnie Sexton.


Okay, these proven techniques in my view are the ‘Top 7 Factors’ of elite sports performance.

Which ones could help you perform more effectively in your business world?

Pick three or four, and focus on them over the next week. Then watch your business performance soar.  Even better would be to start practicing over the festive break and start the New year,  2021 in a different mindset.


Original Author: GMn Associate Tom McCabe