Wales and Mental Toughness

Wales have reached the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup, and have a good opportunity to reach the final.

There are a number of reasons for this, from talent to good coaching; from selection on form not reputation to a generation of young players without fear or the burden of previous defeats.

One particular trait they have is mental toughness, leading to peak performance and the ability to withstand pressure. This is on a team as well as an individual basis. Thus it applies not only to the goal kicker Rhys Priestland, who is very much alone, but to the pack at scrum time, who have to work together.

The team coaches test and work on mental toughness. The preparations for the World Cup included two physically demanding training camps in Poland, which left the players “cursing the coaches”. Not only was the training physically tough, so that the players were “puking in buckets”, but they were made to start at 5 am at times. The real reason for choosing Poland though was its cryogenic chambers, used by Olympic athletes. The squad endured up to four minutes at minus 140 degrees Celsius.

The result was a fit and physically hardly squad, confident in their ability to keep going. But the physiological toughening has also been shown to improve mental toughness as well, so there has been a double benefit from this regime.

Use of cryogenic chambers is not a practical approach to developing mental toughness in lawyers or law managers: luckily there are rather more civilised ways of doing so!

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