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Taking on the mental challenge with Athletics
12 August 2017


Athletics: Nutrition Workshop

12th August 2017, DSR

Story by Kat Downie, WAIS Swimmer, 2012 Paralympics


Wonderful times at DSR on Saturday afternoon learning about an athlete’s greatest asset, our brains!

The brain is a wonderful thing and in particular, once you learn how to use it positively, it can unlock your hidden potential. Positive use of your brain is what the experts call sport psychology and it is what most elite athletes use to get the edge on their competitors.

Together with the young athletes from Athletics WA and Sport Psychologist Heather McGregor-Bayne, we developed an understanding of the methods of sport psychology and how the athletes can apply it.

We learned about positive thinking. Basically you trick your brain into thinking positively and the rest of you will follow, it is as simple as changing how you think. My favourite quote that nicely sums this up is: "Those who think they can, can. Those who think they can’t, can’t.”

Mental imagery – visually imagining your race before you race it. Make it as realistic and as positive as possible. This gets the little neurons in your brain firing before you race, meaning it’s like a warm up for your brain. This is one of my favourite exercises as it’s something that was really effective for myself and my sport. However, I do use it outside of swimming too.

We also learned about optimum performance arousal – figuring out where you need to be emotionally before you race and having methods to either excite you or relax you so you are in the optimal performance range. This can be as simple as listening to upbeat music to get your blood pumping or soft dolphin noises – basically whatever works for you is fine. 

With everything, sport psychology takes practice and refinement, however I thoroughly recommend any young athlete to take it seriously because your brain is your secret weapon.


I really enjoyed this workshop, the athletes worked really well and took part in the activities with enthusiasm. I wish them all, all the very best on their journey to becoming the best version of themselves and to enjoy every moment on their individual journeys.

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