The Mental Edge 11 Nov 2023

11 November 2023

Mental Edge Newsletter

Helping You Gain A Mental Edge

Without Self Awareness Your Progress in Your Sport Will Stall

It’s celebration time for me, here at Inspiring Sporting Excellence where I’ve achieved a big feat.  The podcast that I planned in late 2019 and early 2020 before COVID-19 changed our lives has now reached 200 episodes and has positively impacted on many people’s lives.

In this time, nearly 100,000 episodes have been downloaded on iTunes which is no mean feat and something I’m proud of and very grateful for.  A big thank you to everyone who has sent me nice messages of encouragement along the way, they are very much appreciated.

I have to admit however that it has taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point and very much like an athlete I’ve faced many challenges and personal demons to overcome to make it this far:

  • I’ve been self-conscious where I’ve worried about what other people have thought about me and the podcast.
  • I’ve had many self-doubts about how I’ve performed.
  • There have been times when I’ve winged it, and my goals for the podcast have lacked direction.
  • I’ve had imposter syndrome when I’ve approached and interviewed bigger name guests.
  • I’ve been distracted because of chaos and life’s challenges.

Some of the things I’ve learned along the way and that have helped me for sure are:

  • My passion for the subject itself, which likely comes from my lack of confidence in my youth, the fact I didn’t reach my goal to be a professional golfer and life’s difficulties sparked from the death of my wife, Alex, in 2008, when I was in my early thirties. 
  • The 4C’s Mental Toughness framework created by Professor Peter Clough MBE and his colleagues has been invaluable, it creates so many discussion points and is so relevant to sport and everyday life.  The immense research which he and highly esteemed colleagues such as Dr John Perry investigate, opens up angles to explore as does the work and support of Doug Strycharczyk and his colleagues at AQR International and other Mental Toughness practitioners. 
  • By challenging yourself, by getting comfortable being uncomfortable it is enrichening, you learn so much about yourself and can begin to become comfortable in your own skin, which is at the heart of mental toughness.
  • Being open-minded, educating yourself helps too, it makes you recognise that perfection does not exist. That it is subjective, that there is always someone who knows more than you about some topics and does things different from you.  And this is OK, it’s part of life as you’ll never know it all, and likely forget on occasions too!
  • Uncomfortable emotions are fine, there are times when I’ve recorded episodes of Demystifying Mental Toughness when I’ve been emotionally all over the place.  When I’ve been sleep deprived (our 2 boys until the age of 4 were poor sleepers!) and I’ve been in excruciating pain because of the issues I’ve had with back pain for the last decade, and especially in 2023 since a car accident that I had.  It is possible to still perform when we’re not feeling on it.
  • Recognising that it is important to embrace the unpredictability of life and sport, don’t own it so much, don’t let it wear you down for too long. Remain focused on yourself and what you can control.
  • Other people can make your life far more difficult than it needs to be, again recognise that this is an external thing, be as true to your values as you possibly can and empathise with them.
  • Self-compassion has been a learning curve for me but vital, being kind to yourself is not easy at times but very helpful for your mental health.

Overall, if you heed some of this advice you won’t go too wrong in your life and sport, you’ll never have it completely figured out.  It doesn’t work that way.  Life and sport would be boring if that was the case.  One important factor I did leave out was self-awareness this is critical for success and personal happiness.  You can be as mentally tough as you like but without self-awareness and personal insight you’ll likely always feel like your climbing Everest. 


In the most recent episode, 201 of the Demystifying Mental Toughness podcast, self-awareness is the hot topic that we focus on where 3 leading authorities in the mental toughness domain; Dr John Perry, Professor Peter Clough MBE and Doug Strycharczyk, who go onto share their thoughts about the importance of self-awareness whether you are a mentally tough or mentally sensitive individual.  Enjoy tuning in!


In episode 200 I go on to discuss a very common challenge many football or soccer players find a problem.  It’s their focus, specifically when too much attention is placed on outcomes and results.  What then often happens is, football or soccer players then put too much pressure on themselves.  On the pitch, spectators or coaches will then notice a player who doesn’t assert him or herself on a game, someone who often hides in the background and doesn’t perform freely.  I also share some thoughts on how to overcome this inner battle.  Enjoy tuning in!

Audrie Woodhouse, who was a fabulous actress and performer and now a successful coach and speaking consultant, shares some great ideas when it comes down to communication skills and public speaking, especially when we consider the key elements of leadership communication in episode 199.  This episode is also a very helpful for those who dread speaking or performing and who let their inner chatter get out of control and end up getting very nervous.  Managing state, speech preparation and mental preparation as well as channelling your focus are features of what we discuss.

Some days as a footballer, for a variety of reasons you may feel flat and approach a match out of sync mentally and physically.  So what should you do on these days? 

In episode 198 of the Demystifying Mental Toughness podcast the 5th of a 10 part series for football enthusiasts, I share some ideas.   We’ll look at how you can rouse yourself, how you can use willpower and your actions and not just rely of your coach or gaffer to inspire you. 

Our Instagram page also has some nice ideas to help you where in the last 2 weeks we’ve shared a number of tips and tricks including the following:


Football is one of those sports where Sports Psychology is arguably under-utilised.

Thankfully, it is changing year on year, as more and more top professionals and coaches share their experiences however there is still a long way to go to educate people.

Feel free to read this blog highlighting a few ways we support players…

If you or your team are suffering a mental block or have found that your performance has plateaued, drawing on the academic and applied Mental Toughness work from Professor Peter Clough and his colleagues could make some sense.

Especially given that Mental Toughness accounts up to 25% variation in performance.

For further info, why not read on.


Developing Mental Toughness Book – Doug Strycharczyk, Prof Peter Clough and Dr John Perry

Talking Toughness Podcast with Doug Strycharczyk and Dr John Perry


Soccer or Football Psychology Resources

Hockey Psychology Resources

Rugby Psychology Resources


We’ve started a regular newsletter with tips and tricks for those interested in the psychology of football or soccer. Feel free to sign up today. 


David Charlton Sports Psychologist

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Online Sports Psychologist | Mental Performance Coach who supports many highly motivated athletes, young and old, developing their skills or who are already highly skilled so that they gain a mental edge and get the most from their talent across the globe from USA/Canada to Great Britain and Ireland to UAE, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, using ONLINE Video Conferencing.    

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence

Host of Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast

Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub 

Author of The Mental Edge

With over a decades’ experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to transfer their skills from training to competitive situations, under pressure.

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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