Seven ways to develop a ‘pro mindset’ and become a better cyclist

Pro cyclists don’t just have different genes from the rest of us, their minds work differently too. Sports psychologist Josephine Perry highlights the mental traits inseparable from success

 Amateur male cyclist sprinting on the left, Pogačar sprinting on the right
(Image credit: Future / Getty Images - DAVID PINTENS)

When in 2009 UK Sport commissioned the Great British Medallists project team at Bangor University to explore what makes multiple medal winners different from the rest of us, their goal was to help identify the stars of the future. The researchers found that genes play a huge role in sporting potential (up to 80%) – no great surprise there. They also found a number of serendipitous advantages such as being born early in the school year, having a trauma-free childhood and growing up close to sporting facilities. By the time we’re fully grown, the die is cast. However, there is one thing we can change to become more like sport’s top performers, and that’s our minds.

Aside from the accidents of birth listed above, there are myriad psychological differences between pro athletes and the rest of us. These mental traits, studied and taught by sports psychologists like me, come naturally to many pros, but they can also be consciously nurtured. So even if you didn’t win the genetic jackpot, you can still expand your potential by learning to think like a pro. And here they are – seven ways to develop a pro mindset… 

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Josephine Perry

Dr Josephine Perry is a Chartered Sport and Exercise Psychologist whose purpose is to help people discover the metrics which matter most to them so they are able to accomplish more than they had previously believed possible. She integrates expertise in sport psychology and communications to support athletes, stage performers and business leaders to develop the approaches, mental skills and strategies which will help them achieve their ambitions. Josephine has written five books including Performing Under Pressure, The 10 Pillars of Success and I Can: The Teenage Athlete’s Guide to Mental Fitness. For Cycling Weekly she tends to write about the psychological side of training and racing and how to manage mental health issues which may prevent brilliant performance. At last count she owned eight bikes and so is a passionate advocate of the idea that the ideal number of bikes to own is N+1.