Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Rugby World Cup: Bowe and Best ready, thanks to Dr Mark

Dr Mark Elliott will be up with the lark tomorrow for Ireland’s eagerly-awaited World Cup quarter-final clash with Wales.

And the leading sports psychologist will be an even more interested television viewer than most because two of his clients — Tommy Bowe and Rory Best — are crucial to Ireland’s chances and have been central to Declan Kidney’s side’s march to the last eight.

Ireland beat Italy 36-6 last Sunday to secure a place in the knock-out stages and it turned out to be quite a day for Dr Elliott as he watched Bowe and Best in inspirational form before another client, golfer Michael Hoey, won the Dunhill Links Championship, picking up a cheque for £510,000 in the process.

The only sour note was a shoulder injury to Ulster skipper Best which he appears to have shrugged off in time for tomorrow’s game.

“An amazing day all round, ebbing and flowing between excitement, worry and ecstasy,” said Dr Elliott, who reveals just what it takes to be a winner in his new book ‘Facing Frankenstein’.

“A great Ireland win, but tainted by worry over Rory's injury. I hope he will be okay.

“Then one of my other clients, Michael Hoey, wins the Dunhill Links in Scotland. Heart-pumping stuff! I think I've aged by a decade!”

Dr Elliott would love to see Bowe and Best propel Ireland into the World Cup semi-finals for the first time ever — and possibly beyond.

“In terms of watching the guys performing in New Zealand, my main feeling is one of utmost trust and pride,” he said.

“They are willing to go that extra mile, and then some, for their team.

“Both Rory and Tommy have solid mental games and prepare for matches in ways that ensure they reach their Ideal Performance State.

“By the time I see them line up at the beginning of a match, I know that they are ready to carry out their individual roles with maximum effort and a quiet, yet focused mind.”

Dr Elliott continued: “Top performers know their roles in the same way a London cabbie knows his landscape.

“It is an intimate understanding that allows them to ‘just do it', without much, if any, thought.

“The best athletes in world sport perform in the moment they are in. They do not dwell on mistakes and do not engage in celebrating ‘victory' before the final whistle blows.

“These things steal their focus away from what's happening in the here and now. And what's happening in the here and now is the match!

“The Rory Bests and Tommy Bowes of this world are locked in to the now moment, doing their jobs on the pitch with full focus, determination and commitment.

“They will have prepared in a deliberate way for crucial moments, knowing that a trained brain allows their talent to shine through on the pitch.

“They also know that a surprised athlete is an athlete in trouble.

“So no stone will be left unturned in their preparation and in their pursuit of excellence.”

His recently published book is written for athletes across all sports and at all levels of ability who want to be the best they can be.

The book challenges the mental game sceptic as much as it refreshes and nourishes the enthusiast.

Best has written the foreword to the book and Dr Elliott’s other clients come from a wide range of sports and include Todd Kelman, Paul Kirk, Martin McElkennon and Brian Magee to name but a few.

“Without doubt, working with Mark was the turning point in my career,” revealed Best.

In Facing Frankenstein, Dr Elliott reveals the truth about why competitors need to be mentally tough — and it’s got nothing to do with sport itself.

Instead, competitors create a mental monster that is more cunning, clever and capable than any physical opponent.

The book is published by David James Publishing.