Author: Annie Vernon (Downing 2001)
It's well known that to reach the top in elite sport, you need to have spent years honing and perfecting your physical ability. However this is only part of the template required to win – the other half is about mind games.
Throughout her career as one of the world's top athletes, Annie Vernon struggled with existential questions about the purpose of sport in our comfortable, first-world society: Why do we do it? What is it in our psyche that makes us push ourselves to the limit? What allows us to mentally overcome the physical pain?
Now retired from competition, Olympic silver medallist and world champion rower Annie Vernon has decided to look for answers to these questions. Drawing on her personal experiences and interviews with some of the best coaches, athletes and psychologists from across the world of sport - including Lucy Gossage, Dave Scott, Katherine Grainger, Matthew Pinsent, Brian Moore, Brian Ching and Dr Steve Peters - Annie discovers the secrets of how athletes train their brains in order to become world beaters.
From competitiveness and confidence to motivation and performing under pressure, elite athletes learn - through years of trial and error - how to set up their mindset so it works for them, and Annie is here to reveal their secrets.
In Mind Games, Annie debunks the myth that elite performers are universally cool, calm and brimming with self-assurance. Through exploring the bits on the inside that nobody can see, Annie instead creates a new understanding of what it takes to be successful in sport and uncovers that, in fact, an elite athlete is not that different from you and me. It's simply a question of mind games.