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  • Writer's pictureSPRINT project

Contenders, Ready! Gladiators, Ready! Mental Skills, Ready!

Updated: Jan 30

Image description: A screenshot from the BBC website of the new Gladiators series. 

Have you been watching the new Gladiators TV series? We are loving the return of this highly entertaining sports game show and the displays of important mental skills and positive qualities amongst both the Gladiators and Contenders! 


For those of you who aren’t familiar with Gladiators, in each show, 16 resident Gladiators compete against two male, and two female Contenders in demanding challenges.

Example challenges include ‘The Edge’, where the Contender must reach the other side of a complex elevated platform whilst being chased and tackled by a Gladiator; and ‘Collision’, where the Contender must travel across a hanging bridge to put a ball in a net whilst multiple swinging Gladiators try to push them off. Each show culminates in the Eliminator in which Contenders compete against each other in an obstacle course. The final, and toughest element is the Travelator treadmill.  

Image description: A screenshot from the BBC website of the Collision challenge. 

What things, other than speed and physical strength would you need to succeed in the toughest elements of Gladiators? 

Determination and emotion control are an example of important mental skills and positive qualities that Gladiators and Contenders use to help them to persist and succeed. We can see this in action when Contenders have to make several attempts to successfully reach the top of the Travelator. Before trying again, we often see them take a moment to take control of their feelings and actions by stopping, closing their eyes, and focusing on their breath. And they may also be imagining themselves finally reaching the top at this time. Another emotion control strategy that we see played out in the show is positive self-talk – for example, Gladiators and Contenders saying, ‘Let’s go!’ to themselves just before attempting a difficult challenge. 

Jodie Ounsley (‘Fury’ in the Gladiators), is the first deaf female rugby player to play for a senior England side. You can read this article to learn about how Jodie embraces her physical and mental qualities to enable her to succeed in her endeavours. 


The mental skills, qualities, and associated strategies used by athletes of all levels who take part in tough physical challenges like Gladiators can be recognised and used by everyone in their day-to-day lives. 

You can check out our blog on mental imagery here to learn about how we can all better deal with stress, and another blog on the application of mental skills training to young people who experience disadvantage. You can also access our free strengths profiling tool to understand what your own personal strengths are, and our free emotional awareness tools and resources here


Let us know about the skills and qualities that you use to get through challenging situations by getting in touch below! 


Photo credit: BBC.  

Written by Dr Sally Reynard, Research Associate in the SPRINT Project.  

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