Training the mind is a key part of attaining sporting success

Sportsperson and mindfulness coach, Sue Redmond.
Sportsperson and mindfulness coach, Sue Redmond.

Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon

Adopted Claregalway woman Sue Redmond quips that “the mind is a funny little place”, noting, more often than not, the difference between achieving and under-achieving – even winning and losing – can come solely down to a single thought.

As both a sportsperson and mindfulness coach, Redmond – who this year worked with the Monaghan senior footballers – has an innate understanding of this subject.

She recently published a book entitled The Athlete’s Secret Garden – Tending the Mind for Peak Performance, in which she investigates the power of the mind through mindfulness, sports psychology, visualisation, self-hypnosis and other “core elements”.

“I love the theory and the academic background of it all but I am very practical. When it comes to something like this, I always want to know how is this relevant to me right now? How can I take this and apply it right now so that it is going to have a meaningful change in my life?” she says.

Consequently, the book is more of a practical guide, although Redmond notes there is a small amount of theory in it but only to use as a sort of “clothes hanger” on which to drape the core elements of her message on.

“So, you can get a lot from reading this. I even picked it up myself when I was racing at the weekend. There is stuff in here that I think will never get dated because it is really down to how we see reality. It is often our mind that makes something a great experience or not. We can be our own worst critic and that often can take from the experience.”

Redmond not only says that as mindfulness-based stress reduction teacher, but also as a sportsperson. In addition to holding a black belt in Tae-Kwon Do, she competes in triathlons, nationally and internationally, with one of her achievements having completed an Ironman in Sweden in 2013. She has also run five marathons, surfs regularly and practices yoga.

From an early age though, the Wexford native had a fascination with the power of motivation – and the mind – and one of the humorous anecdotes she relays is of her father bribing her with a bottle of Coca Cola to run a 100metre race.

She ran it, and won it, and yet it was not the joy of receiving the fizzy drink that stood out. Rather, she saw what could be achieved if motivated to do so.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.