Can you tell us about yourself?
Well, I’m a Chartered sport psychologist who has worked in the field for some 20 years. I work with individual athletes and coaches across the world, international, professional and elite amateur levels helping them to perform at their peak.
My sports clients have included European Tour golfers; International and British & Irish Lions’ rugby players; Olympic and Paralympic athletes; professional footballers and clubs; pro ice hockey teams; boxers and mixed martial artists; and, senior county teams and individual performers from Gaelic sports.
I am married with two sons and live in Dromore, CountyDown.
Tell us about your first book. What was the genesis behind it?
I was that archetypal ‘I have a book in me’ person. For many years, prior to writing my first psychological training book, (Facing Frankenstein – Defeat Your True Opponent in Sport) I experienced a growing urge to put my mental game concepts, techniques and strategies into a comprehensive self-service book. It was also stimulated by many of my clients urging me to do so. This gave me the additional confidence I needed to move from idea to action.
I have to say that bolstering my commitment to compiling the book was a strong wish to place on record a truth that no other sport psychology book has ever acknowledged. I wanted athletes to know the real reason why they need a mental game – that it’s not because competitive sport is mentally demanding!
What made you decide to do it as a career?
I probably wouldn’t call my writing a ‘career’ as such. When I wrote my two books (the second of which is titled Secrets of the Mentally Tough Athlete), I started to be asked to write short articles for the print media on issues to do with the mental game of sport. Writing the books also spawned work in the broadcast media. A notion to pen a third book meanders through my mind on occasion!
What platforms do you use now to promote your work?
I have been extremely well supported by my publishers, David J Publishing (DJP), who promote all of its authors’ books. I have a website and also use Twitter to reach the public.
Was it a harder journey than you thought it would be?
Writing Facing Frankenstein – Defeat Your True Opponent in Sport took me close to three years to complete. It was a tough enough venture that made me appreciate Olin Miller’s quip that “Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.” I count myself very fortunate to be taken on by David J Publishing who made the transformation from manuscript to publication a relatively straightforward affair. It is vital for authors to have strong support from their publishers during the editorial phase and onwards to publication and promotion.
What can people expect from the book?
Both of my books are non-fiction in the category of ‘sport psychology’. Facing Frankenstein – Defeat Your True Opponent in Sport is in two parts, with Part One explaining to the reader why any athlete needs a mental game at all. Prepare to be surprised at my explanation. This first part also sets out what mental toughness actually is and offers the reader an opportunity to assess how mentally tough he or she is. This then leads neatly to Part Two which offers the reader a powerful psychological skills training programme, The Six Pathways to Mental Toughness. This programme is jam-packed with over eighty exercises and techniques spread across six training modules, or pathways. By following the programme, readers will:
- Become self-driven to attain massive progress in their sport.
- Develop unflinching belief in themselves and their ability to master situations.
- Develop the ability to create their own reality.
- Learn how to attain a quiet but focused mind during competition.
- Discover how to prepare for competition in the most powerful way possible.
- Perform with poise, having the ability to control their emotions, before, during and after performance.
This programme will not only enable an athlete to develop a world-class mental game, but also it will return him to his natural state – to the boundless potential he entered the world with.
In Secrets of the Mentally Tough Athlete I unpack the champion mindset by providing a practical insight into the specific concepts, skills, strategies and routines adhered to and employed by world-class sportspeople.
Each mental toughness secret is presented in an accessible and straightforward way, and has proven its effectiveness in the crucible of elite sport.
Describe the feeling when you held the very first copy of your book?
Surreal, overjoyed, and overwhelmed!
How involved are you in deciding on the cover?
The cover of Facing Frankenstein was conceived in my mind but brought to creative splendour by Adrian Lutton, graphic designer and artist. I was also heavily involved in the design for Secrets… .
How important is networking for you?
Without getting yourself and your work known there is little if any chance of making a difference to peoples’ lives, including your own! You have to ‘get out there’ and spread the word, without being annoyingly pushy.
It was once said to me that being a writer is the loneliest job in the world. Would you agree?
Well, I suppose loneliness is a state of mind, and if you are absorbed in your writing and in the goal you have set for each day, then you don’t feel so dreadfully isolated from the world. For me, it was essential to factor in planned breaks and times when I met up with friends and chatted about frivolous matters, rather than spewing out self-absorbed monologues about how tough it is to write my book. I learned very quickly that few want to hear about the trials and tribulations of a frustrated, tired and self-pitying author!
What kind of writer are you? Do you write to a schedule or do it when the zone takes you?
Initially I waited until the notion hit me, until I discovered that I often waited a long time. So, instead, I designed a schedule and for the most part stuck to it. I went off schedule when I was on too good a roll, or when I was stuck and becoming increasingly agitated. However, with practice I developed a decent pace.
What has been the greatest lesson you have learned since becoming a writer?
That I had more in me than I thought. That none of us should ever underestimate of capacity for achieving our heart’s desire.
What advice would you give to any budding writer out there?
Without a doubt, I would say “Go for it!”…. but have a plan…. and supportive people around you. Be prepared to feel frustrated at times, but persevere as the end result is worth it. Remember too that motivation alone will not get you there. It is commitment to your plan that is required, and in bucket loads. Commitment means doing the work even when you don’t feel like it. I would go so far as to say that your success lies in those moments when you persist in the face of inertia.
Also, identify the right publisher for your type of work. You’ll know when you meet them whether or not they are right for you too. I have to say that I feel very lucky in this regard as DJP have been very supportive, patient and expert at their job.
Where can people find your book?
Both of my books are available on AmazonUK, and can also be accessed through my website, as well as on the Publisher’s site. The link: are:
Dr Mark S. Elliott at David J Publishing: