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Mental strength

Mental strength can be broken down into two key components, U.S. Olympic Committee Sport Psychologist Sean McCann said. The first is an unyielding desire for victory and superiority in competition regardless of the pressure, which is known as an offensive mental aptitude, he said.

This allows an athlete to use the energy surges or adrenaline produced from high-pressure situations to enhance concentration, strength and execution -- rather than to produce nervousness, panic, muscle tightening or over-exertion.

The second component, McCann said, is a defensive skill, a resilience that allows an athlete to roll with unforeseen circumstances such as a bad lane assignment, a poor night's sleep -- or a head-to-head collision just before racetime


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