Peters zoned in on relays
UK Athletics' new sports psychiatrist Steve Peters believes he can make a difference to Britain's appalling record in sprint relays.
In four out of the last five Olympics, the British men's 4x100m team have been disqualified, including the London Games this summer on top of the European championships in July.
The 'mechanic of the mind' Peters, attributed with a lead role in British Cycling's success, believes he and his two aides could have a significant effect to get the athletes "into the zone".
The track and field enthusiast turned down other offers, including from professional football, to work with UK Athletics and Neil Black, the new performance director.
He said: "My aim is to get the environment correct and get the athletes in a very positive, aggressive stance where they really want to get out there and are going into the zone.
"If I can get that when an athlete previously wasn't, that's my job to make sure that happens and give them that skill.
"If the girls or the lads say to me 'we can't pass this baton effectively because we don't have that mental ability or skill' then my job is to analyse what's going on in the mind as the baton moves around and how are they using focus techniques.
"We now boil down to the nitty gritty but it is too simplistic to say 'right what I'm going to do is give them five things and that's how the baton is going to go' because I need to know what each individual is thinking at the time they pass the baton, and how they work when they are warming up for the event.
"I work first with the individual and then together with the squad. If the relay team say 'we really would like your input' then fantastic - I will be there."
A vital strategy used by Peters is that of mental warm-ups for athletes immediately before their events. For example, he believes that without preparing mentally beforehand a hurdler is likely to be inconsistent, whereas one who does have a mental warm-up would be more likely to be able to jump the hurdles robotically.
However, Peters insists that he will not try to force his approach on any athlete.
Peters, who has been credited by cyclists Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton as having had a dramatic effect on their careers, added: "Some will have natural ability and will say they are happy with the way they are and don't need any advice and that's fantastic.
"The way I work is I am one piece of team jigsaw, the main part is the athlete and the coach.
"How much they want to tap in to my expertise and support is up to them. Sport is about winning and being competitive and I am in their hands they will guide into the environment they want.
"Some people will not want to buy in, but if they invite me in then my job is to come up with ideas to say 'this is how the human mind works and these are the rules of how the mind works and if you break the rules the consequences can be quite catastrophic'."
The sports psychiatrist also said that he would help athletes deal with pressure situations, which could include false starts.
He concluded: "The scenario where there has been some form of hiccup and your mind is going to take to a place you don't want to go with negative things and negative emotions is a common scenario in sport so there would be ways of dealing with that too."