Thinking they look good in their sports kit does not necessarily mean a person is any more likely to perform well at events such as the Olympic Games. This is according to Steve Cram, who was speaking to the BBC following the revealing of the new Team Great Britain strips for the London Games later this year.
Cram, who now serves as a BBC athletics commentator after finding fame as a middle distance runner in the 1980s, claimed the style of an outfit does not affect a competitor when they are of a level that deems them good enough to participate in their chosen sport’s elite events.
The former athlete observed psychologists often suggest individuals who believe they are well turned-out are likely to see this confidence reflected in their performance in the track or field.
However, Cram explained this factor is not so important with regards to sportsmen and women at the very top of their game.
Steven Sylvester, Chartered Psychologist, commented: “I believe we need to look at a broader context in order to understand the important role GB kit plays for the GB organisation, GB team and the individual GB athletes.
“Firstly, on an organisational level, we have witnessed a significant cultural change from the 80s. Back then there was no lottery-funded professional athletes, there was no culture of celebrity athlete, there was no social media and sport wasn’t so aggressively positioned as a corporate brand.
“As a result, our GB athletes now perform in attire that reflects the needs of the GB corporate brand values – this is now big business. Here an athlete is no different to an executive wearing a fine tailored suit and tie to the most important business event of the year. Today, athletes are representing the corporate brand throughout the media and looking good and performing well is essential to the brand – and the athletes know this.
“Secondly, looking good in the GB kit inspires a sense of belonging to the GB team. These athletes have worked incredibly hard to gain selection on the GB squad. Consequently, when they get their GB kit it represents more than just looking good – they feel special about belonging to the Olympic legacy.
“Each team member looks at each other buzzing with pride and appreciation. Thus, the kit serves to improve the GB team identity and cultivates collective excellence within the GB team.
“Thirdly, on an individual level, picture the scene. Our track and field athletes are on the start line with complete role acceptance and role clarity. Their role stress is reduced because they know what is expected. Their designer GB kit reinforces their role in the team – each athlete having their own tailored clothing fit for the purposes of their event.
“So, having it designed, showcasing it in the media is all part of the professional elite athlete’s job. Once they have got it right they can tick it off the list of potential stressors and free up more capacity to focus on the task of performing.
“No elite athlete likes poor or ill-fitting kit. This can significantly affect mood and readiness to perform.
“In conclusion, looking good in GB kit will benefit performance at Olympic level, since it positively reinforces each athlete’s high regard for the corporate brand values, their deep sense of belonging to the GB team and their high levels of inspiration to perform at his or her best.
“Our athletes will be ready, professional and aware of their vital role in the GB team and society as a whole.
“The GB kit is a part of helping our elite athletes deliver a purpose-led performance at these once-in-a-lifetime home Games.”
The British Psychological Society