Think your way to a better performance!

Looking to gain that extra edge on your sporting performance? Trying to calm that temper? Or hold back those nerves?
Trying to train your players more efficiently? and help them deal better in match situations?
Then this is the place for you! Brain SPEC is the product of Mark Simpson. A table tennis player himself he is using his experiences and what he has learned from his sport psychology training to help you enhance your own or your players' performances!



Thursday, 18 September 2014

Struggles of a training athlete

Recently Sam Priestley, the protege of the Expert in a year project being led by Ben Larcombe, has released his own recent thoughts about his training and his progress in the project. It is a great read and really gives an insight into the thoughts going through his head, the highlights and particularly the struggles that he is going through. A lot of these are common struggles that a lot of athletes go through, both professional and recreational, in their quest to improve.
In the a series of posts I will discuss these troubles in more depth and give some tips to help overcome these struggles and continue to improve your performance.

To understand the starting position for these posts read the words of Sam himself here

So from this here are some of the struggles that he and I am sure many of you have

  • Overtraining - Sam got sick of training, lost motivation and his training was suffering
This is a difficult one because lots of people think that not training as much as physically possible to fit in is laziness. But a sustainable schedule is important, as Sam found, your motivation suffers and as a result the quality of training both physically and mentally suffers. Bad habits form, injuries occur, and all of this is definitely bad news in both a short and long term viewpoint. For the in-depth ways to look at if you're overtraining and how to avoid doing this read the full article Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

  • Focusing on one thing at a time - Sam was very happy in Denmark and Hungary because he could focus his mind on just the one thing and saw big benefits to his motivation, general mental health and also performance
Not everybody is able to take weeks off from work to train full-time, and even if you can you will still need to balance work/school/family/everyday life with your training. The key is switching off each of those things when you're training and vice versa. This is a difficult thing to do but is key to getting the most out of your training. There are some methods to do this discussed in this article in the series HERE

  • Difficulty transferring training performances into matches - Sam had the basic technique and good shots but in matches he is finding it difficult to transfer this and perform well.
This is a very common problem that almost everybody has at some point and few people find a way to truly overcome it. There are a few ways to overcome this including altering your thoughts in both training and matches and altering your training to help transfer these skills into a match. These are discussed in depth in this article of the series HERE

  • Being professional in your training when others aren't - Sam found this part of the camps he visited to be very good but this shows the contrast to what happens if these conditions/mentality of others is not as good
Staying focused and training at 100% when other people aren't taking it as seriously is a difficult thing. As humans we are naturally swayed by social interaction and observation, so how do we shut out that and really get the most from our training? Read about a few tips HERE

  • Fear of wasting other peoples time - Sam talks about not being good enough at blocking for his practice partner and feeling the need to apologise
The only way to improve is to push yourself slightly beyond your capabilities (read the article I created on the ZPD here) therefore practicing with players better than you needs to happen So how do you keep them happy, while being able to get the most out of it for yourself? I discuss this in this article of the series HERE.

(Not all these articles are yet written and will be added as they are completed so, if there is no link where it says there should be, please be patient!)

Don't forget to check out the rest of the goings on at Expert in a year and the rest of my blog, and comment below some more of the problems you are having. I will read each one and look into writing posts on how to overcome these in the future.
If you are interested in working on a more individual, tailored basis, contact me via email at and check out the services page of the website for ideas as to how I could potentially help you to improve you/your teams training and performances.


  1. I totally agree that over training is a big struggle for a lot of athletes. You want to be your best, but preparing to much can have negative side effects. Last thing you want is to be injuries while training. Like you mention setting a doable schedule and sticking to it is very important. Thank you for the great article.

    1. Thank you for you kind comments. Personally, growing up as a person and an athlete, setting plans seemed pointless and stupid. But as I have grown up and matured I have come to realise that sport is all about being prepared. unprepared people may get one day where it all comes together and they play 100% to their potential but when it doesn't click play at 50% or lower. Well prepared people will consistently stay at 80% with that same potential to still hit that 100% occasionally.