With the 2012 Summer Olympics just months away, Michigan State University Professor Daniel Gould traveled to London this week to present his research on the psychology of Olympic excellence.
An internationally known expert on coaching, Gould has mentally trained Olympic champions and conducted a series of studies for the U.S. Olympic Committee. He gave a keynote address and talked with British sports coaches during the 2012 Annual Meeting of the British Psychological Society (BPS), April 18-20.
“I am delighted to be in London during the year of the Olympics and to share what I have learned along the way,” Gould said. “I have been lucky enough to be on the U.S. Olympic coaching committee for a number of years, and work with Olympic athletes and coaches as a performance enhancement consultant.”
When the public watches the Olympic Games they see performance factors influencing an athlete’s outcome, but many other factors play out behind-the-scenes. Gould’s research has showed how issues such as a snoring roommate, attending the opening Olympic ceremonies, transportation hurdles and family concerns can play a major role in the final results.
Research on how Olympic athletes handle mental preparation and the pressure to perform has implications for many types of practicing psychologists and for coaches and athletes at all levels. Gould, who also serves as director of the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at MSU, led a free workshop for athletic coaches from the across the United Kingdom as part of the BPS conference.
The workshop was especially valuable for those who design and deliver training opportunities for other coaches.
“We are pleased to organize this event, to give psychology away to other professions,” said David Lavallee of the British Psychological Society’s Division of Sport and Exercise Psychology. “Public engagement is an important element of our work and we wanted to make sure coaches in the U.K. would have the opportunity to meet Dan Gould while he was here.”