All-Ireland winner Kevin McManamon has spoken about the power of positive thinking in achieving success, saying it has been vital to him in winning four All-Irelands.
Bring up the topic of positive thinking to a selection of members of the public and one is likely to be met with a variety of responses. Some people incorporate positive thinking techniques into their daily routine as a matter of importance, while others are more sceptical, perhaps seeing such practices as unnecessary for them personally. It might well be that such differences of opinion commonly operate along generational lines.
Sport psychology attracts a similar reaction. A certain J. Brolly has headed the criticism of sports psychologists and any time he does voice his disapproval there are those who row both for and against the Derryman. But there is also a wide appreciation of the genuine value sports psychologists can bring to a set-up. One man who often bears the brunt of Brolly's ire is Enda McNulty, despite the fact that McNulty has worked (and been praised by) sportspeople like Brian O'Driscoll and David Gillick.
(Keep an eye out for the year's first edition of the 'Hard Shoulder', the Balls.ie GAA podcast, which features an interview with McNulty and will be out this week)
Another All-Ireland winner trying to make his way in the sports psychology industry is Kevin McManamon, who has won four All-Ireland titles with Dublin and will be hoping to add to that tally in 2017. McManamon has an MA in Applied Sports and Exercise Psychology and is a practising psychologist himself - and he told press, including the Irish Times' Ian O'Riordan, that criticism of sport psychology is "absolute nonsense".
He had some interesting remarks on just how important psychology has been in assuring his longevity (and you can read the full article here) - but one particular example he gave showed how powerful a simple mental switch can be for a player:
Early in my career, I got very stressed before big games. And I was traditionally very hard on myself. I thought it would be a source of motivation, if I was hard on myself, that I’d try harder in training. Without realising that I was basically just chiselling away at my confidence. I give myself a lot more love now when I review my games.
You speak to players that score a hat-trick in a soccer match, then they miss one, and it’s all they can think about. It’s a very natural thing to do. But I’d be spending more time thinking about the hat-trick if I was giving the advice.
So next time you're playing 5-a-side and you miss an open goal, focus on the one you scored last week. Provided you did actually score last week. If you didn't, you might be struggling.