Mental Toughness for Sports Performance Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

Jan 14 2011 | Tags: Emotional Intelligence

Mental Toughness for Sports Performance Just Got A Whole Lot Easier

The Emotional Intelligence Sports Inventory (ESi™)

How many athletes and coaches really understand the mental side of sport? How many are diligent in trying to improve this critical area of performance?

We all know the vital importance of the mental and emotional game in athletics, where performance in athletes is always separated by their mental and emotional capabilities. “Mentally tough” athletes can perform under the high levels of athletic pressure, they are consistent, they make clear decisions and they save their best performances for when it really counts. As the athlete moves to higher levels, the mental and emotional skills become the clear separator between contenders and pretenders.

Coaches and athletes know this so why isn’t mental and emotional development more of a priority?

Most coaching models have one clear limitation. While coaches are often strong in the technical, physical and strategy parts of coaching, the mental/emotional part of the coaching model is normally the weak link. Simply, the technical, physical and strategy are easily quantified with drills, physical training, chalkboard discussions, video and other tools to help the athlete become bigger, faster and stronger. But, the conversation between coach and athlete to help the athlete become more self-aware, more resilient, more confident or more optimistic is not quite as quantifiable, can be difficult and awkward for the coach – and often avoided all together.

The corporate world has leveraged the latest technologies and created tools that quantify behaviors that separate average and outstanding performers. Since the late 90s, organizations have utilized “Emotional Intelligence” tools to highlight strengths and limitations in leaders and coach these leaders to higher performance. The tools have been simple and easy to use offered in handsome online formats, utilizing powerful, up-to-date technology.

If this can be done in the corporate world, is it possible to create a tool that could do the same thing in the athletic world – specifically for athletes?

The answer is yes, and the simple, science-based Emotional Intelligence Sports Inventory (ESi) is the new tool that can be used by coaches to strengthen their coaching models and inspire athletes to improve their performances.

Developed over a five year period by collecting and analysing data from some of the worlds most elite athletes, the ESi represents an exciting advance in our understanding of the building blocks that are scientifically linked to elite sports performance. Unlike traditional, personality based psychological inventories that measure general personality traits, the ESi was specifically designed and developed to measure the mental and emotional “fundamentals” of athletes.

Performance data was collected from amateur and professional athletes from around the world in a wide range of sports. It was then scientifically validated by comparing results with a number of other well-established measures of sports performance. The ESi was then administered to professional groups of international elite athletes – including national sports teams. Results revealed strong relationships between the 10 mental and emotional fundamentals or “competencies” defined and measured by the ESi and outstanding sports performance.

Recent independent studies have provided additional support for the accuracy and reliability of the tool and further international research projects are currently being completed by Universities in Ireland, Wales, Finland, Singapore, China and Korea.

Of course, the real value of the ESi is not only in being able to measure mental and emotional skills, but in delivering a blueprint to develop them. By focussing on measuring emotional competencies rather than measuring personality traits, the ESi provides coaches with a clear roadmap to assist athletes in developing measurable improvements in their skills.

Feedback from some of the world’s top professional coaches has confirmed the immediate benefits that the ESi delivers. Comments such as those from top PGA golf coach Steve Bann are typical:

“The ESi is an accurate and useful assessment tool, both Stuart Appleby and Nick Flanagan had immediate tournament success as a result of implementing the recommended strategies after taking this assessment.”

Leah Allinger, Assistant Coach of the National Champion, University of British Columbia Women’s Volleyball team outlines a benefit of the ESi for her high level team: “the ESi really created awareness for our players of what they might like to work on and helped them understand how important mental and emotional preparation is to competing and winning.”

Both individual athletes and teams are using the ESi and getting to the next level in their mental and emotional athletic development.

The ESi is a brief, simple-to-use measure that can be completed online in only 20 minutes. Along with scores on the ten mental and emotional skills that support elite performance, the ESi Sports Report is packed with eighteen pages of individualized coaching tips and tactics for developing sustained performance. The package also includes a developmental “Action Plan” helping coach and athlete apply the results to their everyday performance.

The ESi represents an innovation in the field of sports psychology and early indications are that developing mental toughness for sustained sports performance just got a whole lot easier!

By John Haime & Martyn Newman

Click here for more information about the ESi™. 

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