Mental training sessions beneficial to athletes of PCHS

Normally the body gets exercise to improve performance, but what about the mind?
The first of two Alberta Sport Development Centre mental training sessions got underway in the cafeteria of PCHS on Nov. 5.

By Kim Hutchison

Staff Reporter:

Normally the body gets exercise to improve performance, but what about the mind?

The first of two Alberta Sport Development Centre mental training sessions got underway in the cafeteria of PCHS on Nov. 5.

Athletes, coaches and teachers gathered to listen to Doug Swanson, a retired Red Deer College professor who currently works with Canada’s U22 Women’s National Hockey Team and the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes among many other professional teams and organizations, give a presentation titled “Champions are Different.”

The presentation, which focused on how athletes can set themselves up for success and learn the skills needed to be mentally prepared for training and competition, began with the importance of hard work.

“People say you get what you think of most the time, but you get what you but that’s not true,” Swanson told the crowd. “You get what you think of most of the time only if you’re willing to do the hard work required to get there,” he said which was followed by an intriguing butterfly analogy.

If you find a cocoon and can see something inside that appears to be struggling and you decide cut it open because you think you’re helping it out, you’ll kill it. If you let it do what it needs to, it will become a bigger and better organism. When you’re in a practice and you want your coach to take it easy on you or give you break and he or she does, you’re both ultimately killing your potential.

“It’s human nature to take available shortcuts and to avoid stress, but champions embrace stress and go the extra mile when the average person would quit. Hard work is required to become an achiever and there’s no way around it,” he said.

Topics introduced included focusing, mental imagery, relaxation, self-talk and training along with many pieces of motivational advice relevant to everyday life for people of all ages, such as the importance of staying left of your but. This means learning how to eliminate everything in your sentence that follows the word “but” because what follows is usually an excuse to lose.

For example, if you say, “I want to win this game but I think the team is better,” disregard “but I think the team is better” and your left with, “I want to win this game.” Or if you say, “I would love to go for a walk this evening but I have too much to do tonight”, keeping left to your but leaves you with, “I would love to go for a walk today,” making what you want to do more achievable.

He concluded by speaking about the importance of living in the moment instead of dwelling on the past or contemplating the future emphasizing the fact that if you’re in the moment, you’ll be able to give 100% of your focus, attention and ability.

Swanson has been an educator for over 35 years so he has been motivating and inspiring minds for the majority of his life, but he began concentrating on mental training sessions in 1995. If there is one thing he would want everyone to take away from his presentation it would be, “Focus on what you can control and live in the present,” he said.

The second presentation titled “Getting to F.I.R.S.T: The Athlete Performance Cycle will be taking place at PCHS on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m and is open to anyone wishing to attend. Register in advance at the main office at PCHS or contact Holly Riske at 403-783-4411.

For more information on the Alberta Sport Development Center, visit

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