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Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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1 Chris Hoy’s story

Chris Hoy’s diverse childhood sporting background supports what was written in previous sessions about not ‘making it’ early. In Box 1 you will look at his route to cycling, before watching a video about his use of psychological skills at a key point in his career.

Box 1 Chris Hoy’s route to cycling

Chris Hoy was one of Great Britain’s most successful track cyclists, but he had an indirect path into cycling. In adolescence, he participated in rugby, athletics and rowing. He was proficient at them all, especially rowing, which he loved, but found that he was most physically suited to cycling. After international BMX racing from age 7 to 14, he transferred his skills to mountain biking, then road racing. Eventually, when he was 17, he found track cycling and he was smitten with the experience.

His father emphasised the benefit of Chris not being a child champion:

He [Chris] was never up there but he just kept plugging away. You’ve seen other kids who were winning all the time and when they get beaten they don’t like it so they stop what they’re doing. As long as they’re enjoying it and they’re doing pretty well, there is not a lot between first and second.

(Hoy, 2013)

Activity 1 Chris Hoy’s experiences of using psychological skills

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Watch the following video, in which Chris Hoy catches up with Michael Johnson. Which of the psychological skills does he describe as the most useful to him? You may find the PCDE list from the previous session useful.

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Chris Hoy discusses his use of sports psychology and how seeking psychological support can allow athletes to be as prepared as possible when going for gold. He talks about his visualisation technique, which psychologists would call imagery. He used this in his preparation and pre-performance routine for the 2004 Olympic final. He discusses focusing on the process of performance and what he could control, so it partly relates to the focus and distraction control part of the PCDE. Before using such techniques, he describes the anxiety he felt before crucial competition and, in particular, a time when he panicked and finished poorly.

Chris Hoy’s story of excelling under intense pressure should help you to identify in more detail what performing under pressure entails.