Kevin’s winning mindset

by Karl Graham

KEVIN McManamon has hit back at critics of sports psychology, claiming that he would not still be playing for the All-Ireland champions if he hadn’t worked on his own mindset.
The St Jude’s star completed a masters degree in Applied Sports and Exercise Psychology and now has his own company helping other athletes and school kids.
Analysis of the mind has become common place among the world’s best athletes but there are still people who question its merit, notably Joe Brolly in his Sunday Independent column.
McManamon, who was speaking at the launch of Dublin GAA’s new partnership with Subaru, took the opportunity to have his say on the matter.
“It’s absolute nonsense from people who don’t deeply understand what they are talking about. When you talk about the difference between winning and losing, people don’t say ‘that team was stronger or fitter’; they always talk about how they performed under pressure, and self confidence so why wouldn’t you train it?
“I think it is naive to bash it although I don’t think it was as simple as bashing sports psychology. It was bashing positive thinking, which is another area altogether, where there are people who probably aren’t as trained as they should be working in the area.
“Working on your mindset is a no-brainer for me and I wouldn’t have had the success I’ve had if I hadn’t worked on mine.”
McManamon has regularly had to make do with appearances from the bench for Dublin as he endured talk of him being best used as a “super sub”.
However, starting both finals as Dublin retained the Sam Maguire for the first time in 39 years last year was a big moment for McManamon, one that he says probably would not have been possible were it not for his attitude towards sport psychology.
Another contributing factor, according to the 30-year-old keen musician, was his ability to switch off from football.
“I have a lot of interest outside of sport and I’m getting better at not being a 24 hour athlete so when I’m at training I’m intent on putting everything into it, but when I’m not there I’m getting better at switching off.
“That was one of the big things that I felt I was able to do really well last year. It’s a skill I think we can all use and it is something that is giving to us by our management.”
When asked if he felt he had become a better player last year or was just giving more opportunity to shine, he was assured in his response.
“I feel I was a much better footballer last year and for me the change was being able to deal with the pressure of playing the big games. Over the years, I hadn’t done that particularly well.”

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