NCI Blog

Winning: The Mindset for Success

Posted by Emma Henderson on 06 March 2014


NCI's psychology series continues with Dave Malone of Paralympics Ireland

High performance is all about coping at the edge of chaos, we were told at the latest in NCI’s series of free lunchtime events, In The Psychologists’ Chair. The events, in association with The Irish Times, continued with guest speaker Dave Malone, one of Ireland’s most decorated Paralympics athletes and the recently appointed Performance Manager for Paralympics Ireland. If you would like to study psychology in Dublin, this series is a must.

Dave, who was born with a rare bone condition, had his right leg amputated at age 7, followed by his left a year later. Fitted with prosthetics, he was determined to get back on his bike and out kicking a ball just as soon as he could. He cites his parents as huge influences on developing the positive mindset which has stayed with him since: always supportive, they encouraged him to make his own choices and to face and overcome his challenges in an independent way.

In swimming, Dave discovered a world of teamwork, perseverance and discipline where he was defined for what he could do, and not what he couldn't. Winning the silver medal (for the 100m backstroke) at the '96 Atlanta Paralympic Games, he devoted the next four years to ‘getting stronger, developing race strategies and exploring the psychology behind becoming the best athlete I could be”.

During that time he was unbeaten in every race, held multiple records (including 3 world records which he held for a decade or more) and went on to take the gold at the Sydney Paralympics in 2000. He won another silver in Athens in 2004, and retired after the Beijing Games in 2008, where he placed tenth.

Now responsible for motivating elite athletes across 14 sports for Paralympics Ireland, some of Dave’s tips for success include the ability to adapt and change in stressful situations. Focus and dedication are important, he said, but the most important thing is to relax. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or others and use humour to ease the tension. Dave also emphasised the power of visualisation and imagining scenarios from every possible angle so you are mentally rehearsed.

It's obviously working: in the London games, the squad he managed broke all their lifetime or seasonal bests, with 5 of 6 making the finals and the 6th being a reserve.

The series continues on 13th March with Dr Suzanne Guerin on the reality of cyber bullying. Make sure you're signed up to our mailing list, via the bottom right hand corner of our homepage, to be the first to hear of this and other free events at NCI.

Read more about NCI’s psychology courses in Dublin, including our 3 year BA in Psychology, or check out the further events in this free-to-attend series, which all take place from 1-2pm at NCI’s IFSC campus. We have plenty of other interesting articles on psychology. So why not have a read of our chilling article on the Mindsets of Psychopaths or our insight into Cyberbullying

Read about our BA (Hons.) in Psychology

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Topics: Psychology, Undergraduate