Health & Fitness

Sports sophrology and mental preparation

Sports sophrology is a little-known field, yet this technique aimed at well-being and relaxation is an important tool for the mental preparation of top-level sportsmen and women during training or in preparation for a competition. Discover its benefits and how to use it wisely to improve your athletic performance, achieve your goals or even sleep better.

What is mental preparation for an athlete?


Mental preparation for an athlete refers to all the cognitive processes put in place to optimise performance. It aims to improve well-being, motivation and concentration. Even if the practice of a sport is often centred on physical work, the psychological conditioning is very important, both during training and before a competition:

  • It encourages confidence and optimism, allowing you to put your failures into perspective and learn from your mistakes while valuing each effort or progress made.
  • It helps to keep your nerves in check when anticipating an event, whatever the stakes.
  • It improves motivation, thanks to better knowledge of oneself and one’s abilities.
  • It promotes physical performance by cultivating different cognitive faculties: Focus on the important points, concentration, precision of gestures, management of resources to reduce the feeling of tiredness, etc.

Mental preparation and sophrology


Sophrology uses speech to affect the body and mind. Non-touchable, it is based on breathing, visualisation and muscular relaxation exercises guided by a therapist’s voice. It is used to improve the ability to cope with difficulties, to relieve pain or reduce stress, for example.

What are the advantages of sophrology in sports?

When applied to sports, sophrology has many advantages:

  • Sports sophrology exercises help to better understand one’s body in space and to focus on the present moment, which contributes to perfecting technical movements, overcoming blockages, learning to manage one’s resources during effort and gaining self-confidence.
  • Sophrology is one of the simplest solutions for controlling your emotions. This helps to: Reduce the risk of injury, relieve stress before a competition, avoid anger in the event of failure, and remain lucid and concentrated following a victory during a match, among other benefits.
  • When used in conjunction with a fitness programme, sophrology can help regulate sleep and calm anxiety linked to a change in diet or training plan.

Information to be taken into account when considering sports sophrology

Before considering the practice of sophrology for a sports event, there are a few things to know:

  • Several sessions are usually necessary to perceive real change.
  • The choice of the practitioner is crucial for the success of the approach: You must feel confident and preferably select a qualified or trained sophrologist.
  • The sessions can be private or in a group, but, in order to be in good condition for an important competition, a personalised follow-up led by a sophrologist experienced in the mental preparation of the sportsman or woman is more efficient.

How to integrate sophrology into your sports preparation


Sophrology sessions last about an hour and can take place in the office or in the gym, for example. After a few sessions, your sophrologist will probably give you the keys to  practice sophrology independently at home.

A visualisation exercise to achieve one’s objectives

This visualisation exercise practised in sports sophrology is designed to help make each step of one’s objectives concrete, to reach them more quickly and improve one’s self-confidence:

  • Focus your attention on an object located in the room where you are: Hold it in your hand, mentally note each of its characteristics (size, weight, texture, colour, smell, etc.).
  • Put the object down and close your eyes.
  • Relax with a deep breath and imagine the object as accurately as possible.

With a little practice, you will be able to get an increasingly complete picture of the chosen object. Do the same with your athletic goals: Detail them, project yourself in a successful position, winning a match, crossing a finish line or performing a movement.

A sophrology exercise to help you sleep better

Sophrology, which includes active relaxation exercises, is also great for help with getting to sleep:

  • Stand with your arms at your sides, feet parallel and relaxed, loosening your shoulders and keeping your head straight.
  • Close your eyes and, with your hands in front of your face, close your ears with your thumbs and at the same time, place your index fingers on your eyelids and your middle fingers on your nostrils, to isolate yourself completely from the outside world.
  • Take a deep breath in through your mouth, then block the air for a few moments, leaning forward. Exhale through your nose, relaxing your arms along your body.
  • Repeat the exercise 3 times before going to bed.

Check out our Health & Fitness page for more advice.