Glasgow 2014: How athletes stay focused for success

Psychological preparations of the Commonwealth Games athletes are a key element in when preparing to battle for a medal spot

With the Commonwealth Games less than seven weeks away, top Scottish athletes are entering the final phase of their training. And with a home crowd and high hopes for medals the pressure is stacking up.

That is why many of those competing at elite level, are focusing on mental preparations for the Games.

Jak Scott is training hard, combining training in the pool at Stirling University with work on his mind.

Lap after lap, turn after turn, the 23-year-old spends 30 hours a week training in the pool, but when it comes to the Commonwealth Games, he will have less than two minutes to get everything right if he is going to win a medal.

Jak was part of the 4x200m relay team that won silver at the 2010 Games in Dehli, this year he will have a home crowd to perform in front of.

In the world of elite sport, it is small margins that make a difference, hence the importance of sport psychology at the top level.

Before competition Jak gets so nervous, he is sometimes sick.

He says: "I get really nervous. There's a lot of apprehension and worry when it comes to racing. What could happen? What's the overall performance going to be like? And disappointing people is a massive factor in that."

Many of the Scottish athletes taking part in this year's Commonwealth Games will regularly meet with psychologists to help them work on techniques to stay calm on race day.

Swimming lanes The swimming competitions at this year's Commonwealth Games will take place over a six day period

Misha Botting is a sport psychologist based at the Sportscotland institute of sport. He works with the swimming team, and was with the Scottish curlers who took part in this year's Winter Olympics.

He said: "Technical preparation is fundamentally important, however, without the clear mind, the calm and the focused mindset, all these elements can potentially fall apart."

The mind games begin in what is called the call room. It is where the competitors gather from the changing rooms just ahead of the race.

Jak says: "In the call room, there's a lot of pressure. There's a lot of people anxiously looking at people but I like to put my music in and try to block it all out and not really think about the race until I absolutely have to, behind the blocks and there's no turning back then."

At the University of Stirling, Prof Robert Eklund has published the world's first Encyclopaedia of Sport and Exercise Psychology.

He says: "Elite performers all have grand capabilities and are all really talented so it all comes down to how much they have their head together on any given day and so the psychological component becomes very important."

Back in the pool and Jak and his team-mates will soon be reducing the intensity of their training ahead of the Games but when it comes to winning or losing a medal in front of a home crowd, the pressure is now on.

More on This Story

Glasgow 2014

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Scotland stories


Scotland Live

    08:32: Read all about it...

    The aftermath of the referendum continues to dominate the agenda in this morning's papers.

    Scotland's newspapers

    "Honour the Vow" is the headline in the Daily Record, which urges the Westminster parties to keep their promise of new powers for the Scottish Parliament.

    Labour and the Conservatives are "at loggerheads" over the issue, according to The Scotsman, while The Times says Mr Brown is "clearly furious" at the Tory proposals.

    Read our full newspaper review here.

    08:27: Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    Join me at 08:50 when we'll be talking about the backlash over plans to chase voters who registered for the referendum for unpaid council tax.

    Elsewhere, we'll be asking whether GPs should be open seven days a week.

    Lines are open now. Call 0500 929500, email or text 80205.

    Louise White
    08:20: Constance eyes SNP deputy leader role

    Scottish Youth Employment Secretary Angela Constance is launching her bid to be SNP deputy leader, with a focus on making the case for independence.

    The MSP will formally announce she is running at an event in her Almond Valley constituency.

    She will compete against Transport Minister Keith Brown and SNP Treasury spokesman Stewart Hosie for the job.

    Scottish Youth Employment Secretary Angela Constance

    Ms Constance, a member of the Scottish cabinet who is also responsible for training and women's employment, has been an MSP since 2007.

    The SNP's new leadership team will be decided in a vote by party members and announced in November at the SNP conference in Perth.

    08:10: Referendum 'boos'

    A number of staff at a Scottish independence referendum count were replaced during the proceedings because of their behaviour.

    A group of four people were relieved of their duties at Highland Council's count in Dingwall on 18 September following complaints.

    It was understood some were seen giving the thumbs up and high-fiving each other when "Yes" votes were opened.

    Votes being counted at the Scottish referendum

    It was claimed boos were heard when "No" votes were opened.

    Highland Council has confirmed it received complaints during the count.

    08:04: Weather update BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Morning all - Gillian with you again. It'll brighten up nicely today, but feeling much fresher than yesterday, 14-16C, rather than 18-21C. After a damp start, rain will become confined to the Borders by afternoon, plenty of sunshine elsewhere. Just a few showers in the windy north west.

    08:02: MoD jobs boost

    The Ministry of Defence has awarded £3.2bn of contracts to support the management of UK naval bases and says 7,500 jobs will be secured.

    The money will also be used to maintain and repair the Royal Navy's fleet of warships and submarines.


    Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the investment at Faslane, Devonport and Portsmouth naval bases was the "second biggest defence contract placed by this government".

    08:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and welcome to Scotland Live, as we bring you the latest news, sport, travel and weather between now and 18:00.



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.