Mental State as a Governor of Human Performance

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Tony Ricci


Perception, Cognition, Anxiety


For decades, athletes and coaches have touted the magnitude of the mind and its governance in human performance. Bobby Jones once stated that “golf is a game played on a five-inch course, the distance between your ears.” Sport psychologists and mental performance coaches collaborate with athletes in an effort to find, define, and replicate the optimal mental state when performing. The optimal mental state is often referred to as the “zone”, or “flow.” This is a state in which an athlete performs to the best of his or her ability”. While there is some understanding of this mental state, questions remain as to what extent the mind can impact human performance and/or affect physiology. Can one’s unwavering belief (perception) in their ability to accomplish a task at hand upregulate physiological qualities that determine such capacities? The breaking of a milestone in human performance, the sub 4:00 minute mile and the subsequent efforts certainly allows us to entertain the aforementioned question.

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