Why Mental Skills Training is the Next Big Thing in Athletic Performance

22 Feb 2023
3 min read

David Joyce is an internationally recognized high-performance expert, having worked with thousands of athletes, many of whom have gone on to win some of the world’s biggest prizes in sport. He is the co-author of three bestselling performance texts including High-Performance Training for Sports. David is a highly sought-after performance thought leader and consultant, and is Optimize Mind Performance’s strategic advisor. 

Over my two-decade long journey in elite sport across the world, I’ve seen all the waves of innovation crash on the shore of athletic performance. Some have genuinely transformed athletic performance (think of the Nike Vaporfly as a recent example), whilst many other are incremental upgrades of their ancestors (such as the boom in massage guns, for instance).

For those of us involved directly in enhancing athletic performance, what is consistent, however, is the fact that most new innovations seem to focus on the physical side of things. I suspect there will always be gains to be had here, but they are likely to be incremental in comparison to the greenfield opportunities that lay ahead in the field of mental skills training.

We’ve all heard the rhetoric that winning happens between the ears, and yet the problems unlocking the black box in an athlete’s head remain almost unchanged. Sure, part of this is the complexity of the mental side of the game, but too often we hide behind this complexity excuse. One of the biggest issues is the fact that for all the value that sport psychology provides to our athletes (some of it is genuinely transformative), the delivery model compromises its ability to scale its impact.

I have had the opportunity to conduct over 500 hours of interviews with people all around the world in the field of elite human performance, seeking to divine the future forces of sporting performance. After all these conversations have been analyzed, it’s evident that mental skills training is one of the top two forces expected to transform the playing field over the coming decade.

Never being one to sit idly by and wait for the waves to crash, I wanted to be able to take advantage of movements in the mental skills space, which is why I started working with the team at Optimize Mind Performance around two years ago.

I’m delighted to be involved in something truly revolutionary, using technology to scale and amplify the wisdom of the world’s leading mental skills coaches, allowing anyone to enhance their knowledge and practical skills in this area.

I’ll always be wanting to get athletes fitter, faster, and stronger, but I recognize that now, the greatest impact will be enhancing their mental skills. After all, winning happens between the ears.



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