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FORTITUDE Mental Training Concept

“Did you already experience one of the following situations, in sport, music, work or other contexts?

  • Not being able to cope with stress and pressure?
  • Getting anxious before an important event?
  • Getting distracted when you rather want to focus?
  • Not being able to perform to your standards in competitions?
  • Finding hard to motivate yourself during training or competitions?

Good news for your, mental training can help you handle those situations.

When I started working in the field of sport psychology in the first decade of the 21st century, I got fascinated by the way mental training could help people achieve their goals. However, I had the feeling that we could do more about it, and I started to look into the field of psychophysiology – the connection between mind (psycho) and body (physio) – to finally view its methods as indispensable building blocks to empower mental training. This was the start of FORTITUDE Mental Training.

FORTITUDE Mental Training is based on the two main pillars from my own research, the vagal tank theory and emotional intelligence (see the section above for details), and extends to evidence gathered from top scientists in the fields of psychophysiology, neurosciences, and sport psychology. Further, interviews and biographies of top athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, and elite soldiers provided the opportunity to put the scientific findings into real-life context.The main key of FORTITUDE Mental Training will be to translate its activities into successful life habits, meaning routines that will take place not only during training and competitions but also during daily life, in order to pave step by step the path to success.

During my PhD in psychophysiology, I got interested into a nerve that would change my (research) life: the vagus nerve. And more specifically, I found that the vagus nerve, connecting the heart and the brain, had a direct influence on athletes’ decision making. Namely, when the activity of the vagus nerve was higher, athletes were making better decisions. This discovery and additional research lead me later to develop the vagal tank theory, or how to optimize the functioning of the vagus nerve. Specifically, the vagal tank theory helps to understand how to best use the properties of the vagus nerve to empower emotion and stress regulation, concentration, decision-making, social functioning and global health, making it a powerful tool to serve as a basis for mental training.

The other side of my research is emotional intelligence. Scientists discovered decades ago that IQ, “rationale” intelligence, is not the only kind of intelligence that matters to flourish in life. Specifically, emotional competences help us to deal with the many emotional challenges people face with themselves and with others. With my research, I found out that emotional intelligence plays for example the role of a shield against the negative consequences of stress, buffering the effects of stress on cardiovascular and hormonal aspects, which prove to be very helpful when facing tough situations.


Workshop feedback

“Helpful, reflective and very complete workshop on heart rate variability”

Tom, Researcher and Psychologist

“I am absolutely thrilled of this heart rate variability workshop, I am absolutely thrilled of this heart rate variability workshop, we can see that Sylvain and Stefan burn for this topic, and they have a great way to transmit their passion about heart rate variability to the participants.”

Holger, fitness coach

“Although I already dealt intensively with the topic HRV, I could learn a bunch of new information that I can directly implement in my own training and for my team.”

Sebastian, football performance coach

“What I loved in this heart rate variability workshop, is that Sylvain starts with listing the main clichés/misconceptions about the topic, destroying most of the hopes or illusions we may have had working previously with heart rate variability, before providing us the solid scientific knowledge we need to understand what you can and what you can’t do with heart rate variability.”

Paul, health consultant

“This heart rate variability workshop was based on really high-level sport and health science”

Sylvia, Sport teacher

“This workshop on emotional intelligence was full of theoretical background knowledge and practical relevance.”

Thomas, Fitness coach

“Motivated lecturers trained us about how to improve the five main competences of Emotional Intelligence, and how to use emotional intelligence evaluation tools. Fascinating.”

Georg, Sport teacher



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Sylvain Laborde (PhD)
Sylvain Laborde (PhD)


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Sylvain consults since more than 10 years with athletes, coaches, clubs (any sports), and work organizations, helping people to achieve peak performance under pressure, with specific interventions based on FORTITUDE Mental Training and his research on heart rate variability and emotional intelligence.


Sylvain obtained his PhD in a joint supervision between the German Sport University Cologne and the University of Caen – Normandie in France. He received a Young Investigator Award from the European Association for Sport Psychology (FEPSAC) for his PhD work. He has a Master in Psychology and a Master in Sport Sciences from the University of Caen-Normandie.


Sylvain’s research focuses on two main topics constituting the grounds of FORTITUDE Mental Training: heart rate variability (HRV) as a self-regulation indicator, and emotional intelligence/competences as a promising adaptive personality individual difference. He‘s an international keynote speaker in four languages (French, English, Spanish, German) and was already invited to give talks and workshops in more than 15 countries and on the five continents.


Big fan of cycling and running, hiking in the mountains, playing music with his band Enalkil, learning languages, and travelling the world.