When we think of athleticism, our minds instantly conjure images of people doing a lot of sweating! While there’s no denying that it takes a lot of physical practice to climb a mountain or run a marathon, we often overlook the mental effort it takes. The perseverance and willpower required to break records are skills that can only be developed through mental training. There to help athletes do just that is Selma Köhn, a mental performance coach who was a swimmer herself in her teen years. We sat down with her to know all about what it really means to be ‘mentally fit’.
Along with being a mental performance coach, Selma Köhn is also a transformational therapist and works with kids and teenagers. Being German with Egyptian roots, she has no trouble working with people from diverse cultures and age groups. She fluently speaks Arabic, English, and German.
“I aspire to constantly evolve, attain new knowledge, and pursue different things. I always like to stay updated on the latest techniques in my field of work,” she said.
What is mental toughness coaching and why is it important for athletes?
In sports, there is always a 50/50 chance of winning or losing. Very often, both contestants are equally good. What differentiates one from the other is their control over their minds. This is where mental coaching comes into play.
Thoughts produce mental instructions that are translated into actions. In the same way, you train your techniques, strategies, and muscles, you also train your mind. With certain mental practices, athletes can enhance motivation, increase confidence, improve motor performance, and prime their brains for success. So, they’re better able to play as the best version of themselves.
When did you decide you wanted to be a mental performance coach?
A few years ago, I realized that this was a missing part of the sports field in Egypt. I, myself was a swimmer back in Germany but dropped out during my teenage years.
“So I know how significant it is to be mentally present when pursuing your goals. I understand the mental and motivational challenges athletes face on a daily basis.”
Tell us about Mental Fitness Me
With MentalFitnessMe, I actualized my dream to offer customized services for the sports field. When working with athletes, sports coaches, and even parents, I always focus on the relationship people have with themselves.
My philosophy is that we live from the inside out.
This comes through in the training, lectures, and courses I provide. I teach athletes as well as coaches self-development and mental training tools in both 1-1 and group sessions. I have a “Top Performance Athlete Coach Program (TPCP)” for coaches and a “High-Performance Athlete Program (HPAP)” for athletes.
What does it mean to be mentally fit?
Being mentally fit means that you become able to control your thoughts, your inner voice, and your emotional state at any moment.
Mastering this leads to mastering your overall performance, which enhances your chances of winning the game.
Which groups are your services most popular with?
I have clients from all sports fields, ages, and genders. I’ve coached individuals as well as teams. Some of my clients are high-ranking athletes and prestigious sporting clubs in both Egypt and Europe.
What are some of the biggest mental challenges athletes face?
Maintaining control over your mental performance (or as I call it mental game) is a huge challenge for almost every athlete.
At the end of the day, we’re all humans and carry our own personal struggles with us no matter what we do.
So as an athlete, it is even more difficult to perform at your best when you have to. Here, concentration, believing in yourself, and staying positive are the most crucial elements. Controlling your inner voice is a skill each athlete must conquer.
What do you love most about your job?
Seeing my clients become the people they’d like to be or didn’t even know they could be and guiding them towards achieving their goals is extremely fulfilling. It’s what life is all about, isn’t it?