Managing expectations

27/07/2012  -  11.14

Dr Tracey Devonport, Course Leader for MSc Applied Sport and Exercise Science

During the world swimming championships in 2009, Rebecca Adlington took third and fourth respectively in the 400m and 800m freestyle events having won both at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Reflecting on her performances she said: “I let the pressure and expectations get a little bit too much for me.”

Rebecca remains a high profile member of Team GB and the public expected her to medal again. The Aquatic Centre crowd and everyone watching at home were therefore delighted to see her win a bronze medal in the 400m freestyle yesterday.

We next see Rebecca compete in the 800m - her stronger event - on Thursday.

I would encourage Rebecca or anyone perceiving performance pressures to mentally re-play recent successes to increase confidence leading up to a competition.

In Rebecca’s case she could re-live recent national trial successes in the Olympic pool.

Rebecca has said she likes to swim “happy and relaxed”, so I would advise her to use strategies that help her to feel happy and relaxed when preparing to compete.

This could involve listening to music, chatting with others or imagining past successes.

What would you do in a similar situation?