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This summer the remarkable performance of our great Olympians and Paralympians was jaw dropping stuff. No one could fail to be inspired by their steely determination, unwavering commitment and intense focus.

Image credit to Emz.watson from Flickr

Even if their achievements do not encourage all of us to get active there’s so much we can learn from these incredible people.

Being the best in the world at something is mind boggling.  But each ‘sporting great’ has a common training regime, mindset and set of beliefs – a winning formula – that we can all apply to other areas. Even something as far removed from the world of sport as to developing your child’s foreign language skills.

To get in the zone like an Olympian and be on track to success, follow these ten training  tips.

1)  Get A Training Buddy
Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake don’t just go head-to-head on the track; the dynamic Jamaican duo also train together. Each one is always trying to beat their personal best but what helps them achieve more is the competitive drive they get from training against their rival.  Seeing their closest medal contender perform each day provides a constant reminder of what they need to achieve to be the best. And together with the continued encouragement they give each other, it helps spur them both on. In developing your child’s language skills you can do the same by arranging regular study sessions with a partner to help you get into a routine. Similarly, by taking an active interest in each other’s progression and testing  each other’s ability from time to time you can use a bit of competitive rivalry to push yourself to achieve your very best.

2)  Shake Up Your ‘Normal’ Routine
We all have a routine that we can get in danger of becoming stuck in. And the limits we become accustomed to can hold us back. So once in a while shake things up a bit. Like an athlete you can simply trick your brain to gradually adopt higher intensity training and treat it as normal behaviour. Try increasing your daily studying time by half an hour or for a change spend extra time reading course material in the garden on a sunny day.  Soon this more rigorous routine will feel normal and as achievable as your old one.

3) Refresh Your Brain
Studying for long periods can be draining on your brain, making it difficult to take everything in. To revive your mind follow the example set by athletes and get your body moving – take a brisk walk, or perhaps dance to a track on a pop music channel!  Exercise is proven to help our brain concentrate because as we exercise our heart pumps faster, and consequently we breathe more quickly and take more oxygen to our brain. Also give your brain foodstuff that is known to aid concentration like nuts, oily fish and food rich in wholegrains. As for drink, to retain concentration it is important to stay hydrated through drinking plenty of water. Coffee, as a stimulant, also helps the mind stay alert but the effects can be short-lived and taking too much can have a reverse effect on the brain.

4) Dismiss Distracting Thoughts
The swimmers wore headphones to block the distracting roaring crowd and Paralympian 100m track champ Jonnie Peacock managed to silence thousands calling his name with a simple “Shhh”. If you get the urge to check Facebook or have a voice inside your head constantly nagging you about something you need to do later, firmly tell yourself: “This can wait right now, my studying is more important.” If you worry you might forget other tasks, write them all down.

5) Focus On the End Result
For an Olympian their 5 year goal is gold. For your child this is pricelss, as this opens so many more doors for them in the future. However keep your end goal in sight so that you don’t lose focus and become distracted. One way you can do this by imagining the joy for them when they receive a foreign linguistic qualification when they grow up!

Author Bio | Geoffery is a linguistics teacher, working on sites like Linguarama Business English Providers (  In his spare time he enjoys developing his foreign language skills in German and Italian.