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Mental Training Key to Success for Olympians Amidst Security Threats

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SOURCE Dr. Aimee Kimball

PITTSBURGH, Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- With the start of the 2014 Sochi Olympics days away, fear is mixed with excitement for both the general public and the athletes themselves. Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, has said the security threat at the 2014 Winter Olympics is "the greatest I've ever seen." Such concern has led some athletes to urge family and friends to stay home. That same fear and concern could very well impact the performance of the U.S. Olympic team.

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140204/NE58896)

"Olympians don't just prepare themselves physically, they prepare mentally as well. When it comes to competitions where you get one shot at succeeding, if you aren't mentally tough your chance of success is significantly smaller," said Dr. Aimee Kimball, Mental Training and Peak Performance Consultant. "When you add fear of one's safety to the mix, mental training takes on added importance."

Dr. Kimball works with professional, collegiate, high school, recreational, and youth athletes in a variety of sports. She has assisted the Pittsburgh Steelers in analyzing potential draft picks and has been the Pittsburgh Penguins' Mental Training consultant for eight years.

According to Dr. Kimball, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) hired its first sport psychologist in the mid-1980s to address the pressure faced by athletes competing on the international stage.

"Since then, the idea of making sure one's mental game is in line with their physical talents has become commonplace for athletes at all levels of competition. That is still the case now but there are many more factors – fear in particular – that could threaten athletes' performance in the 2014 Olympic games."

All athletes, Olympians or not, can benefit from mental training according to Dr. Kimball. "Creating a mindset through routine and self-talk is totally under athletes' control. Once they know how to think in order to perform their best, despite security distractions, it's up to them to make sure they think this way in all situations."

About Dr. Aimee Kimball

Dr. Aimee C. Kimball is the go-to Mental Training Consultant in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. For the past nine years she was the Director of Mental Training at UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. Aimee received a PhD from the University of Tennessee where she specialized in sport psychology, a Masters in Sports Behavior and Performance from Miami University (Ohio) and an undergraduate psychology degree from the Pennsylvania State University. She is an Association of Applied Sport Psychology Certified Consultant (CC-AASP), and is a member of the American Psychological Association, the United States Olympic Committee's Sport Psychology Registry, and the USA Swimming Sports Medicine Network. 

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