Mind games promise a sporting edge but may miss the heart of the matter | Sean Ingle

Brain power is increasingly a major battleground in sports science as elite athletes search for a critical edge

Towards the end of Kyle Edmund’s breakout performance at the Australian Open, his coach Fredrik Rosengren was asked about his great leap forward. The British No 2’s improved serve and fitness had helped, the Swede acknowledged – but there was something else, too. “You have believe you can do it in tough situations,” said Rosengren, who stressed that Edmund now had the “mindset” to go deep into grand slams.

Belief. Mind over matter. Taming your inner chimp. Hang around elite sports people long enough and you will hear multiple variations on the theme. The race to run a sub-two-hour marathon, for instance, is sometimes framed as much in terms of psychology as physiology and technology.

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