Athletes need to face the possibility of losing

A leading American sports psychologist has said that athletes need to understand that winning and losing are part of the same experience, it has been claimed. Speaking to the BBC, Senior Psychologist on Team USA Peter Haberl noted competitors cannot avoid thoughts of not performing as well as they would like.

Mr Haberl recommended people confront these issues head-on, rather than attempting to put such visions to the back of their minds.

He stated: "The more you avoid a certain thought, the more it is likely to surface."

Such matters form a big part of Mr Haberl's job at the London Olympics - which got underway with an elaborate opening ceremony on Friday (27 July) - especially as he will be required to console athletes who have unexpectedly failed to perform to their desired level.

He noted thoughts of both winning and losing can detract the mind from the present, adding disappointment can be similar to a period of grieving for athletes, who need to understand these painful moments will eventually pass.

Read more about the importance of mindfulness in sport on this website.

Or watch our video on the use of sports psychology in equestrian dressage, using mindfulness theories to allow the rider to perform at a higher level during competitions.