The genius of The Genius of Athletes is that it condenses tonnes of endurance sport psychology research into one place in a really handy toolkit to see what best practice we can take from the elites to put into our own sporting endeavours.

The first five chapters provide a toolkit of psych techniques that elite endurance athletes will regularly use. They are themed around goal setting, emotional regulation, focusing, self-talk and building confidence.

The next seven chapters offer the types of scenarios that these techniques could be used in. This section really shows how adaptable the techniques are as we see learning just a few techniques could help us in many different situations. Situations covered are those that endurance athletes regularly struggle with and often include within their ‘what if’ plans of all the things they worry about going wrong: Starting off badly, confronting scary things, maintaining momentum, trying not to overthink, making difficult things feel easier, trying not to quit and pushing through to the end.

It is clear both the authors are dedicated runners – many of the athletes quoted and held up as exemplars are runners. This means for runners the book is likely to be utterly captivating. The athletes quoted and studied all offer specific and clear examples and bring their points made to life in a way that just can’t be done without stories.

It is also clear there is an academic brain and rigour behind the book in Noel Brick as the research is wide and deep. Great examples of the experiments that have led to best practice and good descriptions of how this can be used to our advantage. There are loads of studies I hadn’t heard about in here that I will now use to explain the benefits of different tools to my athlete clients.

The book would benefit from a summary of the best actions to take or some key takeaways at the end of each chapter. There were some really great points highlighted by the research that stuck out (such as motivational self-talk is more effective if you say You rather than I, the differences between flow and clutch states or the different types of resilience) that would be really powerful if extracted and highlighted as takeaways.

Also, and this may well be my interpretation, but it felt as if the book was pitched to the everyday person to learn the techniques of elite athletes in order to thrive better in life, but there was such a focus on the sport elements (without linking to day-to-day examples or scenarios) that it felt like it missed the mark on this and just didn’t really connect with the non-sporting life. However, for serious amateur endurance athletes learning these techniques would help their sport and cut across well into their work and family lives too. So, I would say that for runners who want to build a mental toolkit in order to up their game, The Genius of Athletes would be a brilliant place to start.

Techniques covered:

  • Goal setting
  • Chunking
  • If Then planning
  • Habit setting
  • Emotion manipulating
  • Journaling
  • Emotion labelling
  • Gratitude
  • Worry time
  • Breathing (inc Progressive Muscle Relaxation)
  • Grounding
  • Associative strategies
  • Control mapping
  • Pre-performance routines
  • Post-performance routines
  • Trigger words
  • Self-Talk
  • Distancing
  • Self-talk diary
  • Imagery
  • Self-modelling
  • Strengths training

You can purchase the book at