Team GB coaches are undergoing mindfulness training to help them cope with the pressure-cooker situation of the Paralympics.
Psychologists have long been used to help directly prepare athletes for competition.
But now the trainers themselves are receiving help in dealing with the demands of top-level sport.
Professor Frank Bond from Goldsmiths, University of London has been mentoring the top trainers of Team GB's Paralympic table tennis squad ahead of the Paralympic Games.
He has used mindfulness techniques to help the coaches and their athletes manage their insecurities, thoughts and feelings during Olympic competition.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based approach to behaviour and change designed to increase psychological flexibility – our ability to achieve important and meaningful goals despite difficult thoughts and feelings.
Achieved through a state of mindfulness - the awareness and acceptance of feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without getting entangled in them – ACT has been shown to improve both wellbeing and effectiveness.
Having developed the technique in over two decades of research in the business world, helping organisations like the BBC improve the productivity and wellbeing of their staff, Professor Bond began training 32 sport psychologists responsible for Team GB's elite athletes shortly after London 2012.
Professor Bond, Director of the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, explained that ACT not only helps coaches recognise their own feelings, but to see situations from their athletes’ perspective.
He said: “In the run-up to the games I’ve been working with ParalympicsGB table tennis coaches to help them deal with their own anxiety and excitement so they can best help their athletes.
“It was very inspiring to see how ACT allowed coaches to understand the fears and concerns of their athletes, allowing them to focus on achieving their goals.”
Following the games, Professor Bond and his team will collect data to examine how improvements in the psychological flexibility of both coaches and athletes can help to explain the performance and psychological health of Team GB table tennis players at the Paralympics.
This research will examine which techniques can help other coaches to get the best out of their athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.