LISTEN: Training Starts and Ends with Strengthening the Mind

Dr. Duncan Simpson emphasizes mental fitness over physical training in athlete development, discussing strategies on The Sport Psych Show.

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Physical fitness is essential for any athlete. Technical training builds a framework for players of all ages to understand and retain a sport’s basic mechanics. For Dr. Duncan Simpson, the Head of Mental Skills at IMG Academy, training starts and ends with strengthening the mind.

In an interview on The Sport Psych Show, Dr. Simpson spoke with host and Sports Psychiatrist Dan Abrahams about the methods that go into training young athletes. “It’s a process of long-term conditioning and learning with regards to the mental game,” Duncan explains, “it’s not about a one-off presentation. We’re talking about conditioning the athlete over a long period of time.”

When it came to discussing training and school, Dr. Simpson explained the collaboration between the two. He recognizes that at some points, school must come first, and, other times, tennis will take priority. A necessary balance helps each student-athlete grow in each important area of life.

To beat an opponent, Dr. Simpson believes that you must first understand what they’re thinking. “The best tennis players are the best detectives,” Duncan says, “they figure out what they’re doing and anticipate their next moves.” He also believes that a player should mentally prepare first, so they can focus on playing well and stay out of their own head.

Want to hear more from the discussion? Give the full clip a listen below.



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Dr. Simpson goes on to discuss how tennis camps and practices should be run efficiently, with each drill having a purpose. He would ask his coaches, “What is the intention behind this activity? Does this transfer? Is there going to be retention?” These questions allow their team to structure an act-based framework to build technical prowess so competition can have a strategic focus.

Listen to the podcast for a full rundown of Dr. Simpson’s method to achieving mental strength. To sign up for a tennis camp or another program, check out the links below.

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