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Sports psychology prepares pipers for competition

14 August 2013

Ahead of the World Pipe Band Championships this weekend (August 17-18), an Abertay academic will be teaching pipers techniques used by the world’s top sports men and women to help them perform better under pressure.

Chartered Sport & Exercise Psychologist Dr Fiona McConnochie – Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Abertay Dundee – believes that musicians must prepare themselves in the same way as world-class athletes if they are to perform to the best of their abilities during competition.

Having worked with various clients and organisations in sport and exercise – including golfers, long-distance runners, contemporary dancers, cyclists, tennis players, trampolinists, and football teams – Fiona is an expert in her field.

However, as a former world-class highland dancer and competitive piper herself, her main specialism and passion is working with musicians and dancers in the performing arts, particularly pipers and highland dancers.

As part of Piping Live! – the week-long Glasgow International Piping Festival – Fiona will explain how using techniques such as goal-setting, attentional-control, and self-talk can help overcome mental obstacles and enhance performance.

She will also highlight some of the skills which can be used in preparation for competition.

Piping Live! is one of Scotland’s biggest musical events, with thousands of pipers and pipe bands coming from around the world to compete in the World Championships.

The workshop – entitled “Competition Psychology” – will take place on Wednesday August 14, at 5pm in The National Piping Centre. Entry is free.

Speaking ahead of the event, Dr Fiona McConnochie said:

“The World Championships are really competitive, so anything that can give you that psychological edge is really good.

“It’s a high-pressure situation, so being able to control your emotions is vital. Instead of being distracted by judges, audience members, or thinking about winning or losing, you need to focus on your performance.

“Although piping isn’t a ‘sport’ as such, you can use the same skills used in sports psychology and tailor them to the needs of piping or dancing. As a former world-class highland dancer, I know what it’s like to feel under pressure, and having the techniques to get yourself in the right frame of mind is really important, so this talk should be really useful to those competing this weekend.”


For media enquiries please contact Kirsty Cameron T: 01382 308935 M: 07972172158 E:

Notes to Editors:

A Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Abertay Dundee, Dr McConnochie is a Chartered Sport & Exercise Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS). She is also a Member of The Scottish Sport and Exercise Psychology Group, and The Elite Sport & Exercise Group (UK).

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