Ronan O'Gara drops the winning goal

How to program your mind for mental fitness to make your dreams come true

A LEADING brain training coach has explained how the power of the mind inspired hero Ronan O’Gara to kick Ireland to Grand Slam success for the first time since 1948.

The man who scored the winning drop-goal in March’s Six Nations decider with Wales used the same brain training methods that inspired Team GB at last year’s Olympics. And Sonia Saxton, one of Europe’s leading experts in the techniques, has revealed how imagery and the power of visualisation can help players at all levels to improve their game.

Britain secured a record medal haul in Beijing after competitors learned how to imagine what winning was like. O’Gara used the same techniques to visualise a successful kick in the vital seconds leading up to his late drop-goal in Cardiff.

The technique – a form of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – has been successfully used to inspire success in America and Russia for decades. Saxton is an international NLP expert and trainer, whose business, Saxton Partners, runs NLP courses that inspire people to achieve in sport and business, and to communicate better as a team.

“The Irish rugby team have always had ability, but they didn’t truly believe they could win,” she says. “The Grand Slam is proof that Ronan and the rest of the squad now have that belief.

“If you don’t know how to train this way, you don’t know how to achieve.”

O’Gara (pictured, watching the ball fly between the posts) vividly recalls the build-up to the drop-goal which clinched the 17-15 win. “I was roaring for the ball for 30, 40, 50 seconds,” he says. “I was very confident.

“I had my imagery done. I’d visualised the kick going over and had my point picked out. I took the ball about 15 yards from Peter Stringer and the Welsh got a running start, so I had to concentrate on getting the ball up rather than driving through like a normal drop-kick. It flew ugly, but it flew straight and I was delighted to see it go over.”

Key Points:

Create a mental picture of yourself crossing the try-line or landing the winning kick

Visualise what it’s like to hear the crowd and your team-mates celebrating victory

If you visualise what it feels like to win, it becomes a reality to you and your mind shifts its perception of what is possible and enhances your performance.