Mental Training, Inc. client Olivia Raymond is a special gymnast who recently won back to back meets at some of the most well-known competitions in the country. Even more amazing is, she did it after quitting the sport. The addition of mental skills training has enabled her to re-enter the sport with strengthened motivation, focus and confidence.
Why do some athletes handle adversity and other stumble? Some say it’s genetics, others say it’s great coaching and parenting. Certainly all of those are necessities. But as athletes move up in the ranks, those factors become commonplace. So what separates the good from the great? What enables athletes like Olivia Raymond of Wayne, Pennsylvania to stand out and win back to back Level 10 competitions? There’s got to be something else.
Eleven year old Olivia Raymond was living in Dallas, apart from her Pennsylvania-based family, to follow her dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast. However, the distance from her family and the rigorous training and competition schedule was too much for her. She lost touch with what she used to love about gymnastics and decided to quit.
In June of 2011, her Mom brought her to see Dr. Bob Neff at Mental Training, Inc. She just wanted the best for Olivia, whether that meant as a gymnast or not. Through her work with Dr. Neff, their initial focus was on coping skills to prepare her for the transition to “civilian life,” because the decision to quit had already been made. Olivia moved back to Pennsylvania and took up dance (her mom was a trained dancer). Dr. Neff and Olivia continued to work long-distance to learn thought and emotion control skills (mental toughness), since that would be needed in dance as well as whatever else she decided to do in her life.
One day, Olivia decided to go to “open gym” at a local facility, and the spark she used to have for gymnastics was reignited. The sport felt fun again. Her burnout and anxiety was not there, and after a year off, she enrolled in a gym in New Jersey to begin preparing to compete again. Olivia was back in gymnastics, but this time it felt different. She had tools to allow her to better deal with the enormous challenges involved with high level gymnastics. In her first season back, she won first all-around at the season-ending Regional meet.
Flash forward to February 2014 and the prestigious WOGA Classic in Frisco, Texas. This meet was hosted by the gym where she used to train, and where Olympic champion Nastia Liukin learned to compete. Amongst all the adversity of seeing her former teammates and coaches, she won the All-Around competition for Level 10. As if that weren’t enough, she then went on to win back to back meets the next week in Virginia Beach at the Excalibur Cup. According to Dr. Neff, “Olivia Raymond is not only a fantastic gymnast, she is a beautiful person. Her positive, optimistic outlook on gymnastics and life is contagious. I am very proud to be her Mental Trainer®.”
Olivia has aspirations of competing at the College and/or Olympic levels. Regardless of whether she achieves that, she’ll have the mental skills necessary to succeed at life.
About Mental Training, Inc.
Mental Training, Inc. was founded in 2006 by Robert Neff, Ph.D. with the goal of helping good athletes become great. MTI and its team of Certified Mental Trainers® offer 1-on-1 mental training for amateur, professional, and Olympic athletes. Services also include programs designed for teams, associations and school districts. Extending beyond sports, MTI also works with executives, managers and salespeople, helping them control their thoughts and emotions while equipping them with the mental tools to perform their best when it matters most.