User blogs


If exercise doesn’t appeal to you, then the answer is…whatever exercise you are willing to do.

Any exercise is always better than none.

People just beginning their weight loss journey or those returning to it often voice concerns about burn out.  And for that reason, it is always best to start slow and work your way up to a regiment that works for you.  Strength training is often one of the best places to start. The more muscle you build, the more fat you burn. This doesn’t mean you have to end up big and bulky. You can be lean while also muscular.  Something to keep in mind when considering weight training is that muscle takes up less room than fat. One of the key benefits of strength training is that it continues to work for you long after the workout is complete. 

As mentioned above, the more muscle you build, the more fat you will burn, even while resting post workout. Strength training increases your metabolism. Combined with dialing in your nutrition, strength training can help you reach your weight loss goals and maintain them over time.Cardio is often the go-to for people when they think weight loss.

While I believe that everyone needs a healthy balance of cardio and strength training, cardio does not provide the same metabolic rate benefits on its own. Of course, you burn calories during a cardio workout, but the post workout metabolic rate settles quite quickly after the workout. Many people who primarily do cardio, end up burning muscle right along with fat.  Muscle is precious calorie burning cargo that you want to keep! 

HIIT, or high intensity interval training, is a great combination of both strength training and cardio and can provide the benefit of high calorie burn during the workout and calorie burn after because you have built muscle as well as raised your heart rate. HIIT is a great metabolism booster.  There are different versions of HIIT, and some are more intense than others incorporating plyometric exercises that can intimidate newcomers. 

Don’t be intimidated though!  HIIT can be done by newcomers and seasoned exercisers alike. You don’t have to jump and run to do HIIT, low impact is always an option. Be careful to not overdo HIIT as there can always be too much of a good thing. HIIT can be very taxing on your nervous system, so incorporating it 2x a week can be very beneficial but much more can lead to injuries or draining your system and losing your momentum.

Many people are unsure where to start with strength training, so they often fall back to what is comfortable, which ends up being cardio. I see you on that treadmill! If you need help getting started with and incorporating strength training into your regiment, I would love to help! Reach out below to get the ball rolling.

By Sami Nordlund,


Real Food Ideas to Eat While Exercising

If you are going to be exercising for a long time–more than 90 minutes or so–you will need to fuel during exercise in order to keep from bonking. Sports like cycling, running, triathlon, and athletes with long training sessions like soccer and basketball players need to eat during training.

Not all foods are great for eating during exercise. Foods with high fat, fiber, and protein are slow to digest. This means they will not get digested and into working muscles quickly. Instead, they will sit in your stomach. This may cause stomach distress, but also does not help your working muscles.

Aim for foods that have simple carbohydrates. Sports food companies have created a variety of products, like gummies, gels, chews, and drinks that all contain simple carbs to help fuel your workout. But these are expensive, and some people don’t really enjoy the taste of the sweet products.

Here are some real food alternatives to mix up your fueling routine.

  • Dry, low fiber cereal (Rice Krispies, Chex, etc.)
  • Pretzels (Bonus! The salt provides electrolytes!)
  • White bagels or rolls (add jam for an extra carb boost)
  • Rice balls (these can be plain, or with salt, nut butters, cut up dates, raisins, or soy sauce)
  • Pop Tarts
  • Honey packets
  • Banana or other fruit
  • Fruit leather/dried fruit
  • Rice Krispie treats
  • Saltine crackers
  • Fruit juice
  • Applesauce pouch
  • Mashed potato
  • Graham crackers

For more ideas with portion sizes, download our free fueling guide! Happy training!

~This is general information only and not medical advice. Always ask your doctor before undergoing any diet or lifestyle change. 



What is better: hot or cold therapy?

Sauna tents, cold plunges, ice baths, heat packs…what is best? And do you need both, like with contrast bathing where you alternate hot and cold therapy? It all depends on the circumstances and your goals!

Does heat or cold reduce inflammation?

Cold can reduce inflammation and swelling, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing all the time. When an injury occurs, inflammation is what helps with the healing process. Blunting inflammation immediately after being injured may not be ideal. Always consult with a doctor, physical therapist, orthopedist, or other healthcare professional before doing any kind of home treatment for an injury.

Cold therapy (Ice baths, ice packs, cryotherapy)

Pros: Mixed research suggests it may:

  • Speed up recovery
  • Enhance power the next day after a hard workout
  • Improve performance
  • Increase high intensity sprint performance
  • Have an analgesic effect (dulls or numbs pain)
  • Lower sensation of muscle soreness
  • Decreased muscle swelling
  • Decreased inflammation

You may want to use ice baths when you need to perform well on back-to-back hard days, such as two-a-day workouts or important multi-day competitions. They can also be helpful if you are fatigued or injured and need to make the next session really count. Ice baths can help cool body core temperature to improve performance in very hot weather.

Cons: While ice baths may help with recovery or blunting pain, they may not be great for long-term gains. Most research in this area shows it blunts a key signaling protein that helps with muscle building and recovery.

One really cool study took athletes through an exercise protocol, then gave them a protein shake and used tracers so they could see exactly where the protein molecules ended up in the body. They had the athletes place one leg in an ice bath and the other in a neutral temperature bath. The leg in the cold bath took up significantly less amino acids from the protein shake. This means that the cold bath blunted training adaptations and muscle rebuilding and repair. Longer-term similar studies have shown lower muscle protein synthesis and muscle mass and strength when using cold baths.

Heat therapy (Saunas, hot tubs, hot baths, heat packs)

Pros: It feels so nice! Heat therapy can help with body acclamation to hot weather. If you live in a cold climate but are headed to a hot/humid location for a training camp or big outdoor adventure, heat therapy can train your body to tolerate the weather.

Heat therapy for injury

Heat therapy can help make tight muscles feel more relaxed. It may be helpful for chronic tightness or overuse injuries. Heat shouldn’t be used if there is any kind of swelling. Heat also dampens inflammation on an acute injury, which is not ideal.

Other potential pros include:

  • Increased blood flow
  • Increased skin temperature
  • Analgesic effect (pain relief)
  • Increased range of motion (may be important if flexibility is key to your athletic endeavor)
  • Increased connective tissue elasticity
  • Improved capillary circulation
  • Decreased perceived muscle stiffness

Cons: Heat doesn’t do much to penetrate below the skin, so it will not have any profound effects. There is a risk for burns, especially with fragile skin (such as over wounds), so use caution when using heat.

Is contrast bathing good for injury?

Contrast bathing: (Alternating cold and hot therapies)

Alternating cold and heat is not new, but there is very limited research on its usefulness and effectiveness. It seems to be, at best, a way to reduce perception of pain and fatigue. There is not enough research to determine specific protocols or even if they are effective (or ineffective!). It seems that for now it can be used for pain relief, but there is such limited understanding and research that I would not recommend alternating cold and hot therapies for long-term or short-term recovery. Anecdotally, physical therapists report that outcomes seem to depend on the individual. Some people swear by it, others don’t see a good outcome.

So should you use hot or cold therapy, or contrast bathing? If you’re looking for quick recovery or pain relief, these are viable options. Steer clear of cold therapy if you’d like to see long-term gains.

~This is general information only and not medical advice. Always ask your healthcare provider before doing any kind of intervention or therapy. 



As a sports dietitian, I have specialized training in supplements and their indicated use. And I have NEVER recommended a greens powder to any client. Why? It seems healthy! Isn’t it a good way to get extra nutrients? Or what if you are not a fan of vegetables, should you use a greens powder then? Still probably not, and here is why. Please note this is my opinion! It is not medical advice or a nutrition recommendation.

Do greens powders actually work?

It depends on your definition of “work.” By “work,” do you mean they are expensive and likely not as useful as fruits and vegetables in their whole form? Greens powders are marketed to be able to do all sorts of things, like help with aging, digestion, cognition, immunity, stress management, and more. It is cheaper and likely healthier to get benefits of greens through whole veggies. The entire food matrix has many substances that could be lost (or too concentrated) in a greens powder.

Problems with greens powders

One product doesn’t usually do multiple things for your body effectively, safely, or even at all. Multiple health claims are a red flag. Another red flag is they usually have multiple ingredients. One very popular one boasts 75 ingredients–as if this is a good thing. This is actually quite problematic. Why? Multiple ingredients means you don’t know how they will interact with each other. Is it the therapeutic dose for each ingredient? Is each ingredient actually then absorbed properly if 74 other ingredients are taken at the same time? Is it harmful to take in 75 different ingredients/vitamins/minerals/adaptogens? Many compounds in powdered greens (especially ones with 75 ingredients) can interact with medications. (DOI: 10.31080/rcpt.2022.10.00693)

Greens powders are often very expensive but have limited evidence for usefulness.

They have risk for contaminants, including harmful bacteria and fecal matter ???? from chlorella and spirulina (common ingredients in greens powders) PMID: 29169006

Are there any side effects with greens powders?

While some don’t list caffeine on the label, some have green tea extract, a common source of caffeine. One testimonial on a popular greens powder website (that has green tea extract) says “I don’t drink coffee…due to a caffeine allergy, but AG works fantastic…to get me amped up for the day!” Guess what, buddy, you are probably amped from the caffeine.  If you don’t know you are getting caffeine from this product, you may also get other sources throughout the day. Too much caffeine may be harmful for sleep and heart health, become addicting, and cause irritability and jitters. Some powders may also upset digestion.

Supplements are unregulated in the US. You have no idea what is in the bottle. The actual ingredients and the label do not have to match up. If you choose to use a greens powder, use one that is third-party tested NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice. Contaminants have been found in many supplements include heavy metals, prohormones, steroid-like compounds, and more.

Are there any benefits to greens powders?

If you literally never eat fruits and vegetables, you may possibly benefit from a greens powder. Look for one that is third-party tested for contaminants, and look for one that has simple ingredients such as powdered vegetables and leafy greens, without a lot of additional ingredients that seem to be thrown in for marketing purposes. However, training your taste buds to tolerate vegetables is a much better route for overall health.

For these reasons, I have never recommended that someone start a greens powder. You are much better off and safer just eating your fruits & veggies!

Want more information? Check out our amazing nutrition resources, including on-demand courses, free downloads, and webinar replays.

And be sure to follow us on Instagram!


Embarking on a journey from high school to college sports is an exhilarating and transformative experience. The transition brings with it a unique set of opportunities and challenges that young athletes must navigate. This article aims to provide valuable insights and guidance for those venturing into college athletics. From understanding the differences between high school and college sports to preparing academically, managing time commitments, and seeking support, we will explore various aspects of this transitional phase. Whether you aspire to secure a college sports scholarship or simply want to thrive in the competitive collegiate environment, this article will equip you with the knowledge and strategies necessary to make a successful transition and excel in your college sports journey.

2. Understanding the differences: High school vs. college athletics
2.1 The increased level of competition
When transitioning to college sports, one of the most significant differences you'll encounter is the heightened level of competition. College teams consist of some of the most talented athletes from around the country or even the world. Be prepared to work harder than ever before and constantly push yourself to improve. The intensity of training and competition will require a higher level of commitment, both physically and mentally.

2.2 The higher expectations and standards
College athletics demand a higher level of performance and dedication. Coaches and teammates will have higher expectations for your skills and abilities. You'll be competing against athletes who have been playing their respective sports for years and have honed their craft. This means that you'll need to step up your game and continuously strive for improvement. The coaching staff will push you to reach your full potential, and you'll also need to take personal responsibility for your growth as an athlete.

3. Preparing academically: Balancing sports and studies in college
3.1 Importance of time management and organization
Managing both sports and academics in college requires excellent time management skills. Balancing practices, games, and workouts with classes and study time can be challenging. It's essential to create a schedule and prioritize your responsibilities. By effectively managing your time, setting realistic goals, and staying organized, you'll be better equipped to handle the demands of both athletics and academics.

3.2 Seeking academic support and resources
College campuses provide a wide range of academic support and resources to help student-athletes succeed. Take advantage of tutoring services, study groups, and academic advisors who specialize in working with athletes. They can provide guidance on course selection, help you create study plans, and offer strategies for maximizing your academic performance while juggling your sports commitments. Don't hesitate to ask for assistance when needed – it's a sign of strength, not weakness.

4. Navigating the recruitment process: Strategies for securing college sports scholarships
4.1 Researching colleges and athletic programs
Securing a college sports scholarship requires thorough research. Take the time to explore different colleges and their athletic programs to find the best fit for you. Consider factors such as the team's competitiveness, coaching staff, facilities, and academic offerings. Reach out to current student-athletes or coaches to gather insights and gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision.

4.2 Showcasing skills and achievements to college coaches
When it comes to the recruitment process, showcasing your skills and achievements is crucial. Attend showcases, tournaments, and camps where college coaches can see you in action. Create an athletic resume highlighting your accomplishments, and make sure to include relevant statistics, awards, and notable performances. Additionally, maintain a strong online presence by sharing videos of your games or competitions. Engage with coaches through emails, phone calls, or visits, and express your interest in their program.

Transitioning to college sports from high school may feel overwhelming at times, but it's also an opportunity for personal growth and incredible experiences. Remember to stay focused, work hard, and enjoy the journey. And most importantly, embrace the challenges with a positive attitude and a drive to succeed. Good luck!
5. Adapting to higher competition levels: Training and conditioning for college athletics
5.1 Understanding the physical demands of college sports
When transitioning from high school to college sports, one of the biggest adjustments is the increase in competition level. College sports are faster, more intense, and require a higher level of physical fitness. It's important to understand these increased demands and prepare your body accordingly.

In college, you'll be facing athletes who have been training rigorously for years, so it's crucial to work on your strength, speed, endurance, and agility. Focus on developing explosive power and improving your overall athleticism. Incorporate exercises that mimic the movements and intensities of your particular sport.

5.2 Developing a personalized training plan
To meet the challenges of college athletics, it's essential to have a personalized training plan. Work with your coaches and trainers to create a program that suits your specific needs and goals. This plan should include a combination of strength training, cardiovascular exercises, and sport-specific drills.

Remember to listen to your body and allow for proper recovery. Overtraining can lead to injuries and hinder your performance. Incorporate rest days into your training schedule and prioritize adequate sleep and nutrition.

6. Adjusting to the college sports environment: Team dynamics and expectations
6.1 Building relationships with teammates and coaches
A successful transition to college sports isn't just about improving your physical abilities; it's also about building strong relationships with your teammates and coaches. Take the time to get to know your teammates and find common ground. Encourage and support each other both on and off the field.

Developing a positive relationship with your coaches is equally important. Be open to constructive criticism and show a willingness to learn and improve. Building trust and respect within your team will enhance both your individual and collective performance.

6.2 Embracing the team culture and values
Every college sports team has its own culture and values. Embracing these will help you feel connected and invested in the team. Understand and abide by the team's rules, expectations, and code of conduct.

Contributing to a positive team culture means being accountable, showing respect, and being a good teammate. Celebrate both individual and team achievements, and learn from setbacks together. Remember, the bonds you form with your teammates will be some of the most valuable aspects of your college sports experience.

7. Managing time and commitments: Finding a balance between sports, academics, and social life
7.1 Prioritizing and scheduling responsibilities
College sports can be demanding, and it's crucial to find a balance between your athletic commitments, academic responsibilities, and social life. Prioritize your time by making a schedule that allows for dedicated study periods, practice, and social activities. Be disciplined and stick to your schedule as much as possible.

Stay organized by using tools like calendars, to-do lists, and study planners. Communicate with your professors and coaches if you need extra support or accommodations. Remember, finding a balance is about making choices and managing your time effectively.

7.2 Making time for self-care and relaxation
While it's important to maintain a busy schedule, don't forget to make time for self-care and relaxation. Take breaks, engage in activities you enjoy, and find healthy ways to relieve stress. Physical and mental well-being are essential for peak performance.

Prioritize getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, and staying hydrated. Find outlets outside of sports and academics to unwind and recharge. Remember, taking care of yourself is not only beneficial for your overall well-being but also enhances your performance on the field.

8. Overcoming obstacles and seeking support: Coping with setbacks and leveraging resources in college sports
8.1 Dealing with injuries or performance slumps
Setbacks are inevitable in college sports. Whether it's an injury or a slump in performance, it's essential to approach these challenges with resilience and determination. Seek support from your coaches, trainers, and teammates. They can provide guidance, encouragement, and help you navigate the road to recovery.

Focus on the aspects of your training that you can control and modify. Work closely with your medical team to rehabilitate injuries properly. If you're experiencing a performance slump, analyze your techniques, and identify areas for improvement. Remember, setbacks are opportunities for growth and learning.

8.2 Utilizing campus resources for mental and emotional well-being
College campuses offer a wealth of resources to support student-athletes' mental and emotional well-being. Take advantage of these resources, such as sports psychologists, counseling services, and support groups. They can help you develop coping strategies, manage stress, and maintain a healthy mindset.

Don't hesitate to reach out for help when needed. Seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Remember, college sports is not just about physical abilities; it's also about nurturing your mental and emotional resilience to thrive in all aspects of your life.In conclusion, transitioning from high school to college sports is a significant step that requires preparation, adaptability, and perseverance. By understanding the differences, balancing academics and athletics, navigating the recruitment process, and embracing the challenges of higher competition levels, you can thrive in the college sports environment. Remember to manage your time wisely, seek support when needed, and stay resilient in the face of obstacles. With the right mindset and determination, you can make a seamless transition and embark on a fulfilling and successful college sports career. Good luck!


1. How do I balance my academics and sports commitments in college?
It's crucial to prioritize and manage your time effectively. Create a schedule that includes dedicated study hours, practice sessions, and rest periods. Utilize academic resources such as tutoring services and study groups to stay on top of your coursework. Communicate with your professors and coaches to ensure they are aware of your commitments and work together to find a balance that allows you to succeed both on the field and in the classroom.

2. What can I do to increase my chances of securing a college sports scholarship?
Research and identify colleges and athletic programs that align with your skills and goals. Attend college showcases, tournaments, and camps to showcase your abilities and get noticed by college coaches. Maintain a strong academic record and stay in touch with coaches, providing updates on your achievements and progress. Consider working with a recruiting agency or seeking guidance from your high school coach to navigate the recruitment process effectively.

3. How can I cope with setbacks or injuries in college sports?
Setbacks and injuries are a natural part of the sports journey. It's important to have a support system in place, including teammates, coaches, and athletic trainers. Follow proper injury prevention techniques and listen to your body to minimize the risk of injuries. In the event of setbacks, stay positive, remain focused on your recovery, and utilize the resources available on campus such as sports medicine facilities and counseling services to bounce back stronger.

4. How can I navigate the team dynamics and expectations in college sports?
Building strong relationships with your teammates and coaches is key. Communicate openly and honestly, respecting and understanding each other's roles and responsibilities. Embrace the team culture and values, and contribute positively to the overall team environment. Be proactive in seeking feedback and continuously strive for improvement. Remember that college sports require commitment, dedication, and teamwork, so always give your best effort and support your fellow athletes.

- Written by JV

JV Aug 10 '23 · Comments: 1 · Tags: #highschool, #sports, #transition, #collegiate, #athletics

Close your eyes and imagine performing a skill – really picture yourself doing it.

What you’ve just done is called visualization, which means representing a movement or routine, a process in which athletes use all their senses to create a mental image of what they want to achieve.

Chances are you’ve heard of it or even tried it before. This word is thrown around in sport, but athletes often don’t understand the impact it can have. So, why should you visualize? And how can you do it more effectively? Our sport and performance psychologists weigh in with tips.


Visualization is important for improving performance in a range of different ways. A vast amount of research has shown the many different benefits of visualiZation, which include:

  • Allowing athletes to stay confident and focused by regulating any nerves or stressors. 
  • Motivating them by giving them a vision of what they want to achieve.
  • Growing muscle strength by enhancing the cortical output signal, creating a higher level of muscle activation and therefore increasing strength.
  • Increasing focus of attention.
  • Reducing tension and fear.
  • Helping athletes learn to be more positive – mental practice is characterized by positive and successful representations, eliminating negative thoughts.
  • Allowing athletes to develop a more disciplined, organized and planned type of thinking, raising a greater awareness of the skills they perform.
  • Better preparing athletes for stressful situations.
  • Helping with pain management and performance endurance.

Another interesting bonus is that it can even help you come back from injury stronger. Research has shown that simply visualizing an action produces muscle patterns that are similar to those produced when the action is actually carried out. Therefore, whilst an injured athlete cannot practice their skills, they can practice visualizing it to make the execution easier when they are able to practice again.


Make it physical

You’ve probably been encouraged to carry out visualization when “lying or sitting comfortably”. However, this can be ineffective as it will relax you rather than offer the necessary arousal you need to perform well.

Instead, visualization should be a physical process, where you imagine the relevant physical characteristics. For example, footballers should try and carry out visualization standing as they would before a penalty, wearing the same clothes that they would play in, or even holding a football by their feet.

Use all your senses

When visualizing, engage your body’s sensory system. Visualize a vivid picture so real you can almost touch it. Not just what would you see, but what you would hear and feel, too.

Get emotional with it

The role of emotions in sport is often underestimated. Try and visualize the positive emotions you will experience when on the pitch as this will improve your performance. However, don’t let any negative emotions creep into your visualizations. To find out more about how to better manage emotions.

Replicate the environment

Research has also found that replicating the environment can be beneficial.

For example, golfers who visualized their bunker shots whilst stood in a tray of sand showed an enhanced execution of such shots on the golf course. Whilst it may be impossible to carry out visualization on the actual competition course, athletes should try and carry out visualization in an environment that is as similar as possible.

Make it specific

When carrying out task visualization, you need to try and be as realistic as possible to ensure the imagery is specific to your abilities and level of performance.

In other words, don’t visualize a skill that is way too advanced for you, and don’t visualize skills differently to how you actually perform them. It is vital that what you visualize is specific to you and realistically applicable to your performance.

Done in real time

Try to imagine the timing of the action you are visualizing. Timing is key to the success of many skills, so visualizing them in “real time” is much more beneficial. However, slow motion imagery can be useful at times if you want to focus on more specific movements and skills you find most difficult.

Keep it updated

As an athlete, you should be continuously reviewing and adapting your visualizations as you make improvements and develop. This is so that what you imagine matches what you are now able to produce. If you’re still visualizing a basic skill when you are now able to do a more advanced version, this will not be beneficial.

Keep perspective

So, how should you visualize yourself playing?

Whether you see yourself in the first person (through your own eyes) or in the third person (as if you are watching yourself on the TV) probably does not matter too much and is simply down to personal preference.

It may be that you use a combination of the two: using the first-person perspective to mimic what you actually see when you are playing, and the third-person perspective to analyze the different components of the skill you’re visualizing.

Visualize regularly

To perform at your best, you need to be pumping two key hormones: dopamine and noradrenaline. Visualization releases both – so the more you do it, the better equipped you’ll be for performance. Improving your mental skills is the same as improving your physical ones – it takes repetition and focused practice.


Visualization isn’t a substitute for training, but using it regularly alongside your training will help you to become the best athlete you can be. Aim to carry out the process in a similar environment to where you will be performing it, imagine what emotions you will feel, and adapt your routine to your evolving abilities.

Visualization is a complex process, made up of many different aspects. Therefore, it needs to be practiced. You would never dream of showing up to an event and trying a new skill for the first time – and you should treat visualization in the same way. Practice your visualization so that when it comes to competition day, you can use it effectively.

written by:


JV Oct 5 '22 · Comments: 1 · Tags: #athletes, #mentalgame, #visualization, #sport, #positive

Sports season is about to start again!

For supporters and spectators, this is great news – for athletes, not always. Pushing your body back to its maximum fitness and performing at your best regularly again is painful, not just physically, but mentally as well.

However, this pain comes with the territory. The key is to know how to block it out and push past it – and this is where sport psychology comes in. A great way to get ready for the season is to work with a sport psychologist, but you can also try the following tips…



A lot of athletes don’t look forward to pre-season because it’s the rebuilding of fitness following the ‘‘off-season’’. After an extended break to mentally and physically recover, research has shown that athletes tend to experience a significant drop-off in fitness across multiple areas.

Without a well-structured pre-season, players won’t be prepared to play as they did before.

Therefore, pre-season involves the “building” of conditioning and skills, which involves progressively overloading the body to improve fitness. To do this, coaches usually increase training load 2 to 4 times during this period.

It’s vital to a successful season, but it also isn’t pretty. It’s tough and challenging, requiring athletes to push their bodies and mind as far as they’ll go, and coaches to find a precise balance between optimal preparation and avoiding overtraining and injuries.


Set small goals

We often advise our athletes to set both long-term and short-term goals.

When it comes to pre-season, because it can be so tough, it’s good to set yourself some shorter-term goals (i.e., what you need to do this week). This can help break down a seemingly impossible and distant goal into more tangible simple steps.

These small steps can help keep you on the right path and provide short term incentives and accomplishments that will eventually add up to carry you to the end of the upcoming season.

Have the right perspective

Remember to go in with the right expectations. You’re not going to be as fit or as strong as you were before the break. Don’t expect to be as good as you were straight away. Remind yourself that it takes time and that you have to work for it.

Being aware of what it’s going to look like and that it’s going to be tough will help prepare you for what’s to come. Take it day by day and focus on being in the moment, don’t get caught up worrying about what you need to do in the distant future, and you won’t risk getting deflated when everything isn’t perfect straight away.

Control your emotions

It’s tough when you aren’t performing the way you know you can. It can be upsetting and frustrating. However, letting these emotions get to you can be detrimental for not only your performance but also your motivation and mindset.

Emotional control is a crucial part of excellence in sport. Therefore, athletes must learn to control their emotions when they are finding it tough or not where they want to be yet. Some of our top tips include:

  • Listen to songs that get you in the right state of mind before practice
  • Take control of how you talk to yourself – make it helpful and rational, and say no to negative thoughts
  • Visualize things that reduce stress and anxiety
  • With support from others, face your fears head on
  • Relax your body by clenching and then releasing your muscles
  • Take deep breaths to lower your heart rate and help you relax

Work on your mental game

Use the time in pre-season to not only brush up on your physical skills but also your mental skills. This is a good time to work on mental tools you might use throughout competition season.

Practice your visualizationself-talk and controlling your emotions, find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Then, when it comes to the competition floor and the nerves are hitting, you’ll know what to do to calm yourself down and perform to your best.

Change your mindset to push through the pain

Athletes experience a lot of pain during pre-season. This cannot be avoided, but how you view this pain is important. You should aim to be able to recognize that pushing through it will help give you the physiological adaptation necessary to get back to where you were and improve your performance.

Visualization can also help motivate you to push through the pain. Visualize yourself finishing the challenge: what will this look like and how will you feel? You should try and picture the positive emotions you will experience and use this to push on.


It’s going to be tough but using these tips will help you complete pre-season and show up to your first event of the season a better athlete than ever, ready to perform to your full potential.

See it as an exciting challenge rather than a threat and before you know it, you’ll be back in full fitness playing at your best. Work hard; you don’t want to look back and wish you had put more effort in!

Written by:


Are our emotions something that help us when it comes to sport, or do they hold us back? The answer? Both. Learning how to balance and control your emotions is what matters.In our first part of this two part series,  we covered five strategies to help regulate emotion ranging from facing your fears head on, to listening to inspiring music to get you in the zone. This was based on research by Professor Marc Jones at Staffordshire University on how athletes can better manage their emotions when competing. In this second part, we cover tips 6-10.


Try tensing your muscles for a few seconds and then consciously relaxing them to feel a sense of calm, physically as well as mentally. Research shows  that this leads to a reduced heart rate, lesser feelings of physical exhaustion, and diminished anxiety. 


Try to emulate athletes that deal with emotionally difficult situations well; this is an effective strategy to manage anger and stress. For instance it has been shown that Role-playing exercises off pitch reduce angry behavior on pitch. The ability to learn from others is a hallmark of developing a growth mindset and a very important life skill.


Keep a journal or review film of situations where strong emotions arise during play and how you dealt with them. This allows you to identify which emotions are healthy, competitive ones for you and which are not. This is important to know so that you can get the best from your emotional state. Keeping a diary to improve self-awareness is a simple and effective way to improve metacognition. This can be incredibly effective when combined with challenging self-handicapping thoughts (check out part one of this blog), as your newfound awareness can help you identify which thoughts and emotions need challenging.


The more important you believe the situation to be, the more likely you are to have a strong emotional response to it. Research suggest that reminding yourself that “it’s just another match” can help reduce the noise and intensity that emotions can bring.

Reframing our ideas of failure and success can also be effective. In the earlier mentioned research by Professor Jones, he details an example where a Premier League striker was struggling to score goals, and feeling down because of it. Helping him reframe his definition of success to include all the other things he was doing well helped raise his spirits and find his goal scoring form again.


Much like muscle relaxation, focusing on taking deep slow breaths can be an important factor in regulating emotion. These breaths increase feelings of relief and lead to lower physical symptoms of negative emotions such as muscle tension.  It also provides a sense of control of the situations, slows things time and gives you space to consider how best to proceed.


Every athlete no matter their level needs to learn how to balance their emotions. There is no perfect formula. What works well for someone else is no guarantee that it will work well for you. Using some of the techniques described in both parts of this blog series will provide a strong platform to explore what works best for you.



What does it take to really excel in the world of elite sport? The ability to deliver your best when it matters the most is a fundamental part of performing under pressure. Can this ability be taught, learned and developed?

We have previously explored why some athletes perform better under pressure than othersand what it takes to thrive in a pressurized environments.  However, what makes emotions in sport so complicated is that no emotion is truly good or bad during competition. For example, anger can make you try harder, but it can also make you lose focus on the task at hand.

Even two people experiencing the same emotion can react in different ways. So a  footballer who is embarrassed about missing too many shots may shy away from receiving the ball, whereas another might react by calling for it more to get a chance to redeem themselves.

Research by Professor Marc Jonesat Staffordshire University offers fascinating insight into how athletes can better manage their emotions when competing. In this two part blog series, we are going to look at 10 tips to control emotions in sport based on his research.


Listening to musicis a great way for an athlete to get into the zone. Upbeat or inspirational music for example improves an athlete’s confidence and motivation, leading to better on pitch performance. Music acts as a way to boost arousal levels whilst also helping to block out distracting thoughts. Click here to read moreabout the impact of music on performance in sports.


Negative self-talk leads to a poor emotional state, which in turn hurts athletic performance. Replacing it with positive self-talk such as “I played really well in my last match” or “I’ve succeeded at this before, I know I can now” counters negative emotions and creates positive ones too.   This positive self-talk creates helpful emotions such as happiness. As many as 76% of elite level figure skaters utilise this techniqueto cope with the stress of competition. For more tips on how to talk to yourself, check out our blog on ithereand how self-talk is linked to growth mindset.


If you find yourself stressed out over competing or are worried about failing,  try imagining positive scenarios like scoring a goal. As a young athlete, Wayne Rooneyused to lie in bed imagining himself scoring goals and dribbling around defenders. He uses these visualisation techniques this day and credits them for his accomplishments.

It has been found thatimagery focused on toughness, control, and confidence leads to increased motivation, emotion regulation, and self-belief. This is a great technique to do the night before a matchor just before you go out to compete.


It’s important to consistently review your behavior both on pitch and off to ensure it is helping, not hindering your performance. If you are exerting energy and focus on behavior that is hurting you, you’re wasting energy.

One elite tennis playerin this study was asked how many times in her career she argued with the referee and how often it had actually resulted in a call being changed (very rarely). The massive difference in the energy wasted compared to the result she gained, helped her realise there were better things to choose to focus on.


As discussed in our blog on The Fear of Failure, psychologists believe that there are three ways people cope with situations. These are Avoidant, Emotional and Problem Focused. Let’s say you are worried about snakes in your garden. You could decide to never go into your garden again (avoidance focused), or convince yourself that having snakes in your back garden isn’t that bad (emotion focused) or go into your garden and get rid of the snakes (problem focused). 

Whereas avoidance and emotional focused coping may provide a short relief, problem focused coping addresses the issue head on, allowing you to make long term gains. Don’t be an ostrich and bury your head in the sand. If something is worrying you, work out how you can make it better.

JV Oct 3 '22 · Comments: 1 · Tags: #athletes, #control, #emotions, #pressure, #competition

Date: 03.01.2021

Explosive strength performance is the result of a partnership between your muscles and nervous system. The muscles are the ‘engine’ and the nervous system is the ‘governor / control panel’. Explosive strength is also known as power, which is the combination of strength and speed together. When the nervous system commands the muscles to fire at a maximal rate, the body is putting out the most effort possible. The formula for power is “force x velocity” aka the ability to express force quickly. When athletes train with maximal intent on each rep, or whatever activity they’re performing, they’re working to move with maximal force and velocity every time. These repeated efforts lead to enhanced power output / explosive strength, speed and, consequently, more athletic ability.

Athletes that possess the rare combination of both speed and strength are virtually unstoppable. By training strength and speed concurrently, athletes will develop their power in sprinting, jumping, change of direction and overall force production and force absorption.  Force absorption is a rare quality that helps athletes become more durable / less injury-prone. In sports like football, this is probably the most valuable attribute for any athlete. If an athlete is fast and strong but not durable, they will not last long. That is why mobility is so important, which is the flexibility of athletes’ joints and the stability around them.

Training systems that produce the best results prioritize strength, speed, conditioning, and mobility. All together, these attributes contribute to enhanced performance and power potential for the athlete. All things equal, the more powerful athletes are, the more potential they have to win and dominate in whatever arena they compete.



Date: 03.09.2021

How big and strong is too big and strong? When it slows you down.

We look at strength as it pertains to athletic performance. Relative strength is the main measure of success – force output and velocity of that force expressed over time and distance. The stronger and faster someone is, the more athletic potential they have.

Most think of strength in terms of absolute strength, or the “world’s strongest humans” – this is a limited perspective. Just because someone is big and strong doesn’t mean they’re the most athletic version of themselves they could be. When an athlete is the most optimal bodyweight for their frame and the strongest, fastest and healthiest, they are maximizing their athletic potential and speed. Strength should compliment speed and vice versa.

The best way to train to increase the strength to bodyweight ratio and velocity of movement is low reps and high force output.  High force can be attained by moving heavy or light weight through the desired range of motion with maximal intent. Maximal intent is the concept that leads to training explosive.

Low rep ranges of 1-6 reps per set are the most advantageous because they typically can be completed in under 10-12 seconds.  10-12 seconds is about as long as the body has to put out maximal force without losing output levels. Most athletes begin to feel a burning sensation around 5-6 reps. The optimal range for training to increase relative strength is 1-4 reps. Within this range athletes can lift heavy or light to build strength and speed. During the course of a training cycle, athletes will maintain their body weight given their eating at balanced caloric intake levels.

For young athletes ages 12-16, we want to have higher rep sets which will help develop their muscular hypertrophy, coordination and endurance. This builds a foundation for future explosive training.


        Poised During Competition   

                             What is the most overlooked aspect of being an athlete?

You can probably come up with a list of possibilities:

  1. Time management
  2. Nutrition
  3. Speed and agility
  4. Weight training
  5. Flexibility
  6. Quick decision making

No doubt that many of these aspects can improve athletic performance.

However, athletes most often neglect themselves or their mental well-being. In recent years, the news has brought to the forefront many athletes who have come forth to talk about mental well-being, such as Lane Johnson (football), Michael Phelps (swimming), Simone Biles (gymnastics), Naomi Osaka (tennis), etc.

These high-profile athletes have highlighted how competitive pressure and life stressors have significantly impacted their lives and mental well-being.

                                 3 Misconceptions about the Mental Health of Athletes

MISCONCEPTION #1: “Focusing on mental health is a sign of mental weakness.”

Mental health is stigmatized, especially in the world of sport. Recognizing the importance of mental well-being or the need for tending to mental health is a sign of strength.

The term “mental toughness” is often thrown around in the sporting world. However, mental toughness is not putting your head down and blasting through adversity. Mental toughness is recognizing the existence of adverse times, determining the cause and scope of the issues, and finding solutions or assistance to face our hardships.

MISCONCEPTION #2: “Elite athletes do not have mental health issues.”

When you think of a word to describe elite, Olympic, and professional athletes, you probably think of “warrior.” However, watching athletes compete, you only see a tiny portion of who they are. Just because an athlete has not publicly admitted to experiencing mental health issues doesn’t mean problems are nonexistent.

Athletes are more than physical beings. Prioritizing mental health helps you deal with the pressure of competition and life stressors.

MISCONCEPTION #3: “Mental health does not affect athletic performance.”

Some athletes can compete at a high level while experiencing emotional turmoil. However, athletes are not two separate people. It is ludicrous to think you can take the athlete out of the person or the person out of the athlete. 

While we can learn to minimize mental health effects with outside help, putting a lid on our problems can have devastating impacts on who we are as athletes and humans in a stress-filled world.

NBA basketball player Kevin Love summed up mental health in the following statement.

LOVE: “Everyone is going through something that we can’t see. The thing is because we can’t see it, we don’t know who is going through what and we don’t know when and we don’t always know why. Mental health is an invisible thing, but it touches all of us at some point or another. It is part of life.”

It all boils down to one guiding principle. Athletes are people. People are emotional beings. Emotional beings will experience problems in many areas of life. You can become the best versions of yourself when you reach out for support.

Your mental well-being affects every aspect of your life. If you want to become successful in athletics, education, business, relationships, and life in general, you cannot afford to neglect your mental well-being.

                                Tip for Athletes Tending to their Mental Well-Being: 

This tip is essential. Mental well-being is crucial for our overall health. It is vital to overcome the stigma of mental well-being and the belief that personal issues are a sign of weakness.

Not only is it okay to ask for support, but support is also necessary to become the best athlete and person we can become.


By Patrick Cohn

        Perfectionist in the Game

How You Can Become the Best Athlete You Can Be

How do you become the best athlete you can be? Why do so many athletes fall well short of their potential?

When you understand the factors that interfere with improvement, you can apply mental strategies to build motivation and move your game forward.

How many times have you dreaded going to practice? You feel practice has become a punishment. Even games are no longer fun.

Many young athletes drop out of their sport at early ages. Many of those athletes feel too much pressure, feel not good enough, or aren’t seeing significant improvement in their game. No matter the reason, sport should be a positive experience for youth athletes.

Let’s look at what elite athletes do to maintain their motivation and strive to reach their potential.

Forward Sophia Smith plays for the United States Women’s National Team and the Portland Thorns FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. Smith was selected by Portland with the first overall pick of the 2020 NWSL College Draft and is highly committed to honing her craft.

Smith believes the key to athletic success is finding a healthy balance between constantly challenging yourself and enjoying the experience.

SMITH: “[Reaching my potential] is really hard balance and something that I have always [worked on], and I’m still trying to figure out to this day – how to balance it in a healthy way. I always want to push myself and to strive for more, and never be satisfied. And I think that’s great, and I think that’s what all the best players in the world have to do. That’s the mindset that they have to have. And then, at the same time, I think if I am forgetting to have fun, I’m not going to be playing at my best. I’ll be putting too much stress and pressure on myself to the point where it’s showing on the field. And that’s absolutely not what I want.”

Maintaining confidence, staying motivated, and uncovering your potential involves finding a healthy balance between striving to improve and enjoying the process.

5 Essential Ingredients to Maximize your Sporting Experience
  1. Don’t compare yourself to other athletes – Comparison is the quickest way to lose confidence in your abilities and talent. Strive to be a better player than you were yesterday.
  2. Shoot for progress, not perfection – Trying to be perfect will cause you to give in (give less effort) or give up (quit your sport altogether).
  3. Enjoy the grind – Find reasons to challenge yourself each training session or practice. One small practice goal can motivate you to push yourself, even during monotonous training sessions.
  4. Be patient – Nothing happens overnight. Elite, Olympic, and professional athletes grind for years. That is the reason they become elite. Even though you don’t see immediate improvement, it does not mean you are not progressing.
  5. Have fun – When you have fun, you will persist longer and be more willing to make the sacrifices needed to be your best.

Success is not easy. However, it should not be a miserable experience either.

Tip for Maximizing Athletic Success

The recipe for success is quite simple: work hard, challenge yourself, find a balance between life inside and outside of sport, and have fun.

If you can accomplish these four tasks regularly, you will achieve more than you can imagine.




     Volleyball psychology

The Power of Visualization for Athletes

Do you use visualization or imagery with your training regimen? Most athletes do not visualize or might only visualize before important competitions.

Visualization is the process of mentally rehearsing a scene in your mind to learn skills or enhance performance and consistency.

Interestingly, an overwhelming number of Olympic athletes visualize daily and credit visualization as a significant contributor to their successes. 

Why do some athletes avoid visualization when elite athletes take advantage of visualization to take their performance to the next level? Athletes who have doubts about visualization ask the following three questions:

1. Does visualization work? – Absolutely! Many athletes around the globe use visualization to learn new skills, deal with pain, improve their focus, manage competitive emotions, feel comfortable in new competitive environments, overcome adversity, maintain poise, and foster peak performance.

2. How does visualization work? – When you intentionally create images in your mind, you form muscle memory facilitating the replication of those images in practices or competitions. When you successfully visualize positive outcomes, you lessen the anxiety when performing those skills in physical competitions.

3. How do I start visualizing? – Start by getting relaxed with deep breathing or meditation. Visualization is most effective when you start with a relaxed mind and body. You may want to start by writing out a script to follow to avoid missing out on any details. You can record your own script as a guided imagery program.

Visualize only successful outcomes…

USA volleyball players Alix Klineman and April Ross won the gold medal in beach volleyball at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Klineman Ross became only the second U.S. women’s duo in history to win an Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball.

When asked how she pumps up and prepares for a game, Klineman pointed to visualization as a significant component.

KLINEMAN: “I do some visualization, which has been really powerful. I visualize myself in my body, so instead of looking at myself from another perspective, I see myself on the court, going through different skills and doing them really well. It’s like this positive reinforcement of knowing what it feels like, looks like, and how to execute it at a really high level… There’s a really powerful connection between body and mind, which I think a lot of people don’t realize.”

Visualization or mental rehearsal is a powerful mental tool to raise the level of your game. When you use mental rehearsal with your physical training, you will improve consistency, you mental game, and take your game to a new level.

If Olympians use visualization to achieve greater results, you can also raise your game by adding visualization to your daily training schedule.

Visualization And Peak Performance

To improve your visualization skills, you must be patient with the process. Most athletes give up on visualization too quickly because they don’t see immediate results or find it challenging to create vivid images in their minds.

And remember that visualization is not always about visual images. You might be more feel-oriented and want to feel your performance instead. Most athletes use a combination of modalities to mentally rehearse their performance.


By Patrick Cohn

JV Jul 15 '22 · Tags: athletes, sports, visualization, mentality

         Moving Forward After a Bad Performance

How do you respond to constructive criticism? Do you reject it outright or welcome it from coaches?

Why do some athletes reject corrections or constructive feedback from their coach?

Athletes fear receiving constructive criticism for several reasons:

  • They feel they are negatively being judged.
  • The criticism confirms some self-doubt they have about themselves.
  • They have perfectionist standards.
  • They fear they are letting down others.
  • They are given feedback in an aggressive or disapproving tone.

Some athletes see the criticism as a list of everything they do wrong. In these instances, the feedback is dismissed or ignored. Other athletes view criticism as constructive or advice on how to improve their game.

Accepting and using feedback is a critical mental skill for athletes. When you develop this mental skill, feedback will not feel like an attack on your ability but like a suggestion on how to improve your performance.

However, not every coach or parent is skilled in how to provide feedback effectively. So finding the message in the criticism is up to you.

Here’s a practical example from the Boston Celtics. The Celtics had built an 18-point lead against the Golden State Warriors in the first half of Game 3 in the 2022 NBA Finals.

Boston built the lead by playing tough defense and controlling the ball on offense. The Celtics became reckless with the ball, committing foolish turnovers and allowing the Warriors to climb back into the game.

In the fourth quarter, Boston head coach Ime Udoka was fuming during a timeout. After the timeout, the Celtics collected themselves, regained their composure, and eventually won the game 116-100.

After the game, Boston guard Marcus Smart commented on how the team acted on the coach’s feedback and was not offended by the tone of the message.

SMART: “You want to know what you’re doing wrong so you can fix it. You can’t fix nothing if you don’t know what the problem is. So we definitely appreciate his honesty and his openness.”

Criticism can feel like an attack, but often there is a message that you can focus on and disregard the negative tone.

It is normal for your defense mechanism to kick in, but criticism can be helpful or, at least, the message within the criticism. Rather than throwing out the message due to the negative delivery and the person delivering the message, grab hold of the parts of the feedback that can help your game.

How to Use Constructive Criticism:

When you receive criticism, ask yourself three questions:

1. What is the message?
2. Does this message apply to me?
3. If yes, how can I use this feedback to improve my game?

And do this:

1. Communicate with the person giving you feedback. Clarify the message.

2. Challenge your defensiveness. Find out why are you bothered by receiving feedback?

3. Focus on the message itself, not how the message is delivered. How the message was given is not as important as the information.

4. Ask yourself if the feedback can help you and, if so, how you can apply it to your game.

By Peter Cohn

            How Pro Athletes Improve Their Mental Game                                                        Overcoming Underperformance for Athletes

How well do you perform when your back is up against the wall or when you are playing an elimination game?

Some athletes perform better when there is a sense of urgency or perceived pressure. We often call these athletes clutch in those situations.

However, are all athletes who play better when their backs are against the wall clutch? How about an athlete who underperforms against a lower-ranked opponent but kicks it into gear late in the game to steal the victory? Is that athlete clutch?

For example, if a Top-10 tennis player competes against a player ranked No. 200, generally speaking, the player with the better ranking should be able to win handily. Let’s set the stage, the top-10 player loses the first set 6-0 and finds himself down 4-0 in the second set.

He is not necessarily being outplayed as underperforming due to a lack of effort and focus. Late in the second set, the Top-10 player kicks it into gear and wins the second set 6-4 and the third set 6-2 for the victory.

Is that player clutch because he won or just an athlete who overcame underperformance early in the competition?

Underperformance is caused by taking another opponent lightly or thinking you can magically flip a switch to turn the game around. If you wait to give your complete preparation, effort, and focus, often, it will be too late.

Underperformance can be avoided by adopting a champion mindset to every game or competition. A champion mindset approaches every competition with equal importance, whether you are competing against a top-ranked opponent or a person ranked 200th, a team with a winning record, or a winless team.

In their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Florida Panthers were down three games and facing elimination from the playoffs…

The Panthers underperformed throughout the series and lost Game 3, 5-1. Despite averaging a league-high 4.11 goals per game during the regular season, the Panthers have scored only three goals through three games in the second round of the playoffs.

Florida coach Andrew Brunette talked about the team’s underperformance throughout the playoff series.

BRUNETTE: “[The Lightning] have more will and more desire than we do. We’re a good team when (our) backs are against the wall, and it looks bleak. Hopefully, we can find some energy and some passion and some joy.”

Having the ability to perform is not enough to perform at your peak. To be on top of your game, you need to approach each game as a playoff game, a championship meet, or a high-level tournament.

How to be a Clutch Performer:

Start by understanding what causes you to underperform in competition. Do you prepare differently depending upon the opponent? Do you feel more pressure to be perfect? Are you worried about disappointing others?

When you understand what leads to underperforming, you can take steps to improve…

Most of the time, athletes underperform due to fear of failure. That means you get too worried about outcomes and what others think about your performance.


By Patrick Cohn

JV May 29 '22 · Comments: 2 · Tags: athletes, mental health, sports, performance, clutch

     How to Manage Pressure Like

                                              Playing With More Confidence in Competition

What is stable confidence? What is fragile confidence? Is winning or performing well the best way to gain confidence?

If you consider winning as the only source of confidence, you will have fragile or “roller coaster confidence.”

Roller coaster confidence is when your belief depends on winning or performing well in the moment. In other words, after a win, you feel confident, and after a loss, your confidence drops.

With fragile confidence, you are not in control of your confidence. You are at the whim of outcomes.

Stable confidence results from years of training, preparing, and defining yourself by your strengths. Stable confidence is built through what have done and not what has happened.

In this mindset, your level of belief is within your direct control and remains steady despite outcomes.

Let’s look at a hypothetical of a basketball player who missed three open shots in a game and made two turnovers…

A player with roller coaster confidence will be less confident in the next game. On the other hand, a player with stable confidence will view the last game as an anomaly. He will realize bad games are a part of being an athlete.

Players with stable confidence will still believe in their ability to make plays and contribute to the team.

He will continue to prepare at a high level and approach the next game as a new opportunity. He will stick to his game plan for the current game rather than bringing up memories of bad games.

Take, for example, the 2022 Boston Celtics. The Celtics were under .500 at the midpoint of their season. As Boston’s confidence improved, the team turned the season around and went 31-10 in the second half of the season to earn a playoff spot.

The Celtics faced the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. Many predicted the Nets to make a strong run for the championship due to having two of the most prolific scorers in the league.

However, the highly confident Celtics dominated the series and swept the Brooklyn Nets to advance to the second round.

Celtics guard Marcus Smart alluded to the team’s confidence and how the Celtics approach each game.

SMART: “It’s funny to us because we don’t duck and dodge anybody. We knew what we were going to come in here and do.”

The Celtics worked on building their confidence through practice and training throughout the year. The Celtics’ stable confidence was crucial for playing their game and winning in four straight games.

You can’t wait for confidence to happen. That is not how confidence works. Confidence is an action. So what steps are you going to take to grow your confidence?

                                               How to Have Stable Confidence

List 10 reasons why you deserve to feel confident in your skills and have stable confidence. Remind yourself every day of the work you have put in over the last few years.

The next time you blow a play or make a mistake, remember that one mistake does not negate years of confidence-building!

If you want to fast track your confidence-building, contact us for one-on-one live mental performance coaching via video conference from anywhere in the world.

by Patrick Cohn


JV May 16 '22
How to Be a Confident Athlete


                                      How to Control Your Emotions on the Field

Do you have difficulty controlling your emotions during a soccer game?

Have you ever become so angry after a bad play that you yelled at your teammates, coach or even the ref?

Some soccer players get so upset that they just want to walk off the field in the middle of the game.

Negative emotions, such as anger, are difficult for some soccer players to manage and those runaway emotions can have a snowball effect on the mistakes they make throughout a game.

By far, the most taxing emotion in soccer is anger. Anger wears on a soccer player mentally and physically.

Anger is emotionally draining and pulls your attention away from playing soccer to a world inside your head of negative thoughts, fueling your anger even further.

Surely you can relate to feeling physically exhausted after a soccer game when anger raged inside of you.

We are asked this question a lot: How do I not get angry after mistakes and control my emotions?

First of all, don’t feel as if you are the only athlete who has a hard time with anger while performing; it is quite common among athletes in varying degrees.

Several mistakes in a row or missed chances can build your level of frustration. Hitting an open shot off the crossbar can turn that frustration into full blown anger.

That anger can lead to giving up on focusing and lunging wildly at the ball with no goal in mind. As you continue to add poor decisions, you can feel the anger swell inside.

While it may feel impossible–in that moment–to control your anger, you definitely can. You may not be able to prevent mistakes, but you can learn mental strategies to prevent losing your cool and accumulating stupid fouls.

You may notice that when you become angry, you retreat into your mind and become overly-critical of every little mistake.

Not only are there mental ramifications, physical consequences also become a challenge. When your anger rages, your heart rate becomes elevated and your breathing becomes shallow and rapid.

Soccer players stop communicating with teammates or lash out. They take longer to react because the are dwelling on the past.

You can learn to manage your negative emotions. For example, learning to refocus can help turn your attention away from replaying bad moments in your mind and help you focus on making the right decision in front of you.

Another way to manage your anger is to use relaxation strategies to calm your body and thus your mind.

Either way, it is important to realize that you are, ultimately, in the driver’s seat and not your emotions.

Managing Anger in Check on the Field

Most often, when soccer players get upset, they are failing to play up to their expectations, such as “I shouldn’t make any mistakes” or “I should win all 1v1 situations.”

When you fail to reach your own expectations, that’s when you deem you are under performing. 

First, you have to manage your pregame expectations and not put standards on your game before the start of the game.

Second, what are the top 5 triggers that make you angry while playing. What makes each mistake so awful for you? Write the trigger and your reaction as well.

Next, how can you respond differently in each of the same situations? How can you stop dwelling on the mistake? You want to have a new reaction to the mistake that will help you play on with composure.

The key is to understand that mistakes do not make you angry! How you react to mistakes makes you angry!

Published on May 9 

By Patrick Cohn




                                          Helping Kids Look at Pressure as an Opportunity

What causes choking? Why do some young athletes choke while other athletes rise to the occasion?

Most young athletes don’t like to hear the word “choking,” let alone admit that they choke. Yet, some athletes believe they “always choke” when the pressure is on.

Choking generally results from kids dealing with three issues.

The first is negative self-talk.  If kids tell themselves they will choke over and over or refer to themselves as chokers, they will likely choke when the pressure is on.

Self-talk is powerful. Think of self-talk as a directive. Kids’ self-talk tells them what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

For example, a young athlete might say, “In the last minutes of a close basketball game (when to do it), I always choke (what to do) and shoot the ball short (how to do it).”

Athletes should send themselves a different message to yield different results. For example, they might tell themselves, “When my legs get tired, make sure I get my legs into the shot and follow-through.” During games, it’s ideal to shorten this message by using cue words such as legs and follow-through.

Second, kids’ perspective is critical. When they view pressure situations as an opportunity to fail or embarrass themselves, they will tense up and play it safe.

In the ninth inning of a tied baseball game, if they see themselves as “chokers,” they will try to avoid striking out instead of swinging the bat and making solid contact.

Young athletes are more successful when they see challenging situations as a chance to shine and help their teams.

A third issue that leads to choking relates to what kids focus on. Concentrating on results, the outcome of a gymnastics routine, missing a game-winning shot or losing a set in a tennis match all create anxiety. And anxiety negatively affects sports kids’ physiology and mechanics, causing them to choke.

Kids need to stay immersed in what they are doing to keep their attention on the moment, freeing their minds and bodies to just perform.

Choking or performing under pressure directly results from kids’ perspective, focus and self-messaging, all of which are under kids’ control. Be sure to remind sports kids that they have control of these three issues.

Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka talked about how his team needs to respond to adversity:

“It’s guys getting rattled when it’s not the end of the world. You still have a 12-point, comfortable lead, and you gotta end that run,” he said. “We have to understand time and score, and we need a solid shot and not just get caught up in the game.”

Blowing a big lead is often due to choking or playing it too safe. The fear of unraveling and losing after having a commanding lead causes athletes to play cautiously and on their heels, instead of on their toes.

The focus always needs to be on the present moment. Kids will underperform or choke when their minds drift away from the moment at hand.

One way for kids to prevent choking is to reframe how they view pressure games. For top athletes, pressure elevates their game when they use the added intensity to go deeper into the zone.

Help kids look at pressure as an opportunity to excel, not an opportunity to fail.

Under pressure, the game is the same with the same size court, rink, or field. The only thing that changes is young athletes’ perspective of the importance of the game!


Published on

FEBRUARY 11, 2022 By  


A study by the Aspen Institute and Utah State University–commissioned by TeamSnap–revealed what parents want most from youth sports and kids’ ability to meet those goals.

Team Snap’s survey showed that parents, most of all, want kids to have fun, said Peter Frintzilas,  CEO of TeamSnap, a youth sports management app., in an interview with our Ultimate Sports Parent podcast.

Ninety-five percent of parents said they want their kids to have fun in sports, said the TeamSnap survey. Eighty-nine percent said mental health support is important and 88 percent said they want sports to enhance their kids’ physical health.

But parents’ goals haven’t been realized in the last two years, said Frintzilas. Only 54 percent of parents said their kids are still having fun. Only 52 percent said that participating in youth sports is having a positive impact on kids’ mental health. And 52 percent said they felt like their kids were performing at pre-pandemic levels, meaning they hadn’t improved.

Part of the reason for the dissatisfaction is the drop in opportunities to play sports. Many events have been canceled.  And restrictions have been hard on kids, said Frintzilas.

Of course, the drop in satisfaction, performance and mental health hurt kids’ confidence in sports, he said. But sports can help kids boost their confidence as sports returns to normal.

As parents look toward the spring season, they should focus first of all at ensuring their kids are having fun, said Frintzilas. Parents should actively participate in youth sports by watching games and helping the team, he said.

Parents should also focus on reducing the screen time that increased during the pandemic. In addition, they should encourage kids to get back in sports. More than 60 percent of parents said that decreased sports participation during the pandemic led to increased screen time.

A number of mental game strategies will also help kids whose confidence and performance were undermined by the pandemic.

Parents can ensure their young athletes’ expectations aren’t too high, because this can lead to frustration if they don’t meet their lofty expectations. In addition, help young athletes  replace negative self-talk– “I can’t” statements–with more positive self-talk, including “I can” statements.

What’s more, parents can ensure their young athletes plan well for games or performances. That means they need to eat well before performances and ensure they have proper equipment. 

And young athletes can put together a list of mini-goals they’d like to achieve during games or performances. These goals will help them focus on the moment, rather than on the score or win.


Published on

MARCH 2, 2022 By 


Emrah Klimenta of the Oakland Roots Sports Club recently spoke up about mental health in a postgame interview and in a written piece.

I want to share Emrah’s words and my reaction with you…

In professions where we serve the mental health of humans, it’s often the case that we provide support and then are never really sure of the kind of impact that we make.

We believe that it’s positive, valuable, and healing. And that belief is all we need.

As icing on the cake, it’s sometimes nice to hear directly from that human what they gain from our time together.

Thank you Emrah, for your words, the icing.

Emrah’s words:

“I’m a big believer in the work that Lisa does. Not only for the mental side of your health or performance but it is always good to speak to someone who is a professional about certain problems you may have on or off the field.

Sometimes we don’t see certain things or think about certain situations in the same light the way Lisa might. Having her on the team I think can be very useful and beneficial for everyone.

You don’t even have to necessarily have any “problems” to speak to her. She’s great to just talk to and help you elevate your game on the mental side of things, which I believe will help you produce on the field.

She has definitely unlocked a different mental side of my game that I believe has helped me through situations that occur on the field. More so it has helped me off the field and how I approach life problems as well.”

Emrah Klimenta

Oakland Roots SC

Here’s a video of the postgame interview with Emrah Klimenta

Give it a listen (2:20)

Bottom line:

I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but you do make an impact!!

What you do matters!!

Who you are matters!!

Keep up the good work!

We’re all in this together and I appreciate you!

Most importantly take care of yourself as you take care of others.

Full article

Written by: Lisa Bonta Sumii

Original Published date: Oct 18, 2022


Antonio Brown has a history of concussions which can lead to CTE. One symptom

of  CTE is “erratic behavior.” Calling a “tantrum,” an “incident,” a meltdown shows a 

lack of understanding and knowledge. Brown and other @NFLplayers are playing 

undiagnosed. Living life with chronic headaches, changes in mood- including 

depression and agitation, and not realizing these are all symptoms of CTE.

Junior Seau died of suicide after coping with CTE symptoms for most of his life. Some say Seau chose to shoot himself in the chest instead of his head so his brain could be studied. They did, he had CTE. Lived his whole life not knowing, but knew “something was wrong.”


Get educated before you judge





Regular screening, diagnosis, and growing awareness of CTE is essential! When brains are injured and it causes mental health challenges.


Full article

Written by: Lisa Bonta Sumii

Publish date: Jan 3, 2022


The Milwaukie Bucks just won the NBA championship because Giannis Antetokounmpo is committed to training with weights consistently.  He is the most physically dominant player in the world because he has added 50lbs of muscle since being drafted into the NBA by the Bucks 8 years ago. This should serve as notice to all young athletes – TRAINING WILL HELP YOU REACH YOUR POTENTIAL.

There are many examples of athletes taking their skills to the next level after working with a professional strength coach or getting onto a team that prioritizes strength and conditioning. The biggest benefit to enhancing overall explosive strength, speed, conditioning and mobility is that it speeds up the athletic development process and limits chance at serious injury, regardless of age. The younger an athlete develops physically, the more chance they have to dominate their sport from then on.  Logically this makes sense.  Practically it is difficult for most athletes to focus on weight training during the early years.  Why is this?

Most young athletes play multiple sports throughout a year.  This is what most refer to as sufficient ‘cross training’ and majority of coaches and parents believe this to be a sufficient way to stay ‘injury free.’  Reality is that athletes who do not spend enough time recovering and training in the weight room will be more prone to injury regardless of how busy they are playing different sports.  The body is weak when the body is weak, no matter how busy it is.

Young athletes, parents and coaches need to spend less time and money on travel teams, tournaments and gear and more time and money on TRAINING.  Plain and simple, it is the most beneficial allotment of resources athletes between ages 12-18 years old can make.  This is an investment which will pay back dividends in college scholarships and possibly even the athlete making it professionally.  But most importantly, athletes learning to eat right and train consistently are assets to them for the rest of their lives.

Sure AAU basketball is fun, 7 on 7 football gets you exposure and club team travel tournaments for softball, baseball, soccer, volleyball, etc are a great way to get your name out there.  It is certainly important to compete in sports and skills practice sessions. But what matters most is how athletes’ bodies perform and hold up in the long run.  Regardless of where an athlete goes to high school, if they are strong and dominant they will be noticed and on the radar of college scouts.

College scouts and coaches are paid a nice salary to find athletes with elite potential no matter how small their school or town, state or country.  Some of the best athletes in the world come from the smallest towns in the United States and Overseas and they all have one thing in common, they all TRAIN EXPLOSIVE CONSISTENTLY AND NEVER GIVE UP because they understand it will be worth it when they win.

Here is a simple full body routine straight from our training app that can be done by any athlete any day anywhere at anytime:

4 Rounds

40 Dumbbell Walking Lunges

(10-20% body weight each hand) 

30 Marching Planks

20 Squat Jumps

10 Prone Y-Extensions 

*2-3 minute active rest after each round (roll out)


Date: 07.24.2021


Back and shoulder pain can mean a lot of things. However, one of the most common culprits is overuse or strain of the rotator cuff.

The rotator cuff is a ring of muscles surrounding each shoulder joint. They’re responsible for giving the shoulders their impressive multi-directional range-of-motion. However, they are also very delicate.


Many people who have overuse injuries of the rotator cuff are athletes who often make arm motions above their heads, like pitchers and quarterbacks. However, people with physically demanding jobs like stockers and construction workers can also have these problems. Further, acute issues like sprains and strains can also impact these muscles.


A recurring theme throughout this article - and our website - is that overuse and damage can be prevented through careful strengthening and toning of the muscle groups. The muscles of the rotator cuff are no different, and strengthening your shoulders can help reduce pain.


The bad news is that they can be difficult to target effectively. The good news is that the muscles of the chest and back do most of the heavy lifting. As a result, familiarizing yourself with exercises to develop the back and chest can help to make these injuries less likely.

Written by Leo Ochoa

Date: January 14, 2021



There are many misconceptions in youth sports and society when it comes to training. One of the most detrimental is that “female athletes shouldn’t lift heavy weights because it will make them ‘bulky’”. This is far from the truth. Female athletes need to lift light, moderate and heavy weights. They should begin as early as 12 years old to help speed up athletic performance development. This will also keep them from experiencing a career-altering injury. According to studies, between 2010 and 2020 ACL tears were at an all-time high for ages 12-15, especially amongst female athletes. Most of these ACL tears happen during non-contact, athletic movement. This means a lack of stability and strength in the ankles, knees, hips, trunk and shoulders are to blame. 

We have a solution for this – by improving stability through training the bio-mechanical efficiency needed for slow and explosive movement. The SFX Athletes training philosophy is: as soon as athletes are able to play sports, they need to start performance training. Effective performance training begins with developing a foundation of ankle, knee, hip, trunk and shoulder stability. We teach athletes how to crawl, walk and run efficiently and in a safe manner. We love to do this from day one.

The first step in development is incorporating stability in the warm ups and cool downs every single day. Step two, build strength from the ground up and the inside out. This means we add in weight training that compliments the stability work. Step three is adding in plyometric exercises to compliment the strength development. This means we begin speeding things up and increase the ability of producing and absorbing force – the main factors in keeping the athlete healthy and strong while competing. 

Female athletes at the professional and collegiate level have access to elite strength and conditioning coaching. At the high school level and below, this kind of training is rare. High school athletes need strength and conditioning more than college-age athletes, because they spend the majority of these years growing and developing. Injuries can impact their growth and development. There is a possibility that it can even be stunted. This may prevent them from reaching that next level. SFX Athletes is designed to provide younger athletes a training system comparable to what college and professional athletes receive. We hope that athletes, especially female athletes, will train explosive with us using the SFX Athletes mobile app. Together we can help reduce incidences of injury nationwide!

Date: 02.03.2021



“Nothing will work unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

Consistent actions and practices have many benefits.  We will discuss consistency as it pertains to training for improved athletic performance. One of the best ways to separate from others is to do what they are not willing to do and most are not willing to put in even the smallest amount of extra work whether it be during lifting, sprinting, practicing the sport or working on yoga, mobility and mindfulness.  The greatest athletes understand this concept – the 1% rule.  There are less than 1% of athletes that become professionals because there are less than 1% of athletes willing to go the extra 1% every single day in every single way.

The 1% rule applies to all athletes.  There is a saying about showing up being the hardest part, that’s not necessarily true.  Showing up is bare minimum.  If athletes have a hard time finding the motivation to simply show up, they should consider the idea that they may not be cut out for competitive sports and find another hobby. For athletes that show up consistently, they have proven they’re interested, which is good.  Athletes that want to be good will show up and do the work, typically take shortcuts whenever possible, and enjoy the experience of competing and time with friends.  This will work well for most and may even lead to some marginal success.

We’re interested in the ‘extra 1% every day type of athlete’ mindset, which is rare.  Tapping into this mindset is not easy and most would say “it’s too HARD.”  To build a hard mindset requires doing what’s hard – constantly reminding yourself of why the effort will pay off. Doing what it takes to go the extra 1% on everything no matter what is the 1% rule.

Date: 05.26.2021



“What I’ve learned is you just got to stay focused and believe in yourself and trust you own ability and judgement.” – Mark Cuban.

To place an image in our minds of what focus is we should think of a race horse with blinders on during the Kentucky Derby.  They’re really only able to see what’s ahead. Not able to see the other horses next to them, their jockey that’s on their back, or what time it is. Only on the road ahead.  During training, the jockey usually rewards the horse for moving in the right direction at the correct speed.

As athletes we are the race horse.  Of course there are others next to us competing with us and we usually have people in our corner or behind us pushing us in the ‘right’ directions. The only thing that matters is our level of focus on what we need to do to run our own race. Only we control our effort and our attention to what we need to work on to get better.

Date: 06.15.2021



These days, middle school and high school athletes sound busier then professional athletes. Practices, skill sessions, specialty training camps, trainers, coaches, games, travel teams, club teams, school teams, playing multiple sports at a time, all while trying to go to school… Then there are the pressures that come along with maintaining their instwittergrambookchats… In 2021, young athletes are at risk of overtraining and exhaustion more than ever before. Why? It mostly has to do with the youth sports culture of ‘more being better’. The reality is, more is not better, better is better.

How do we help high school athletes become the best athletes they can be? By remembering that they’re young humans in need of balance, support rather than excessive pressure to perform, and time off.

We support them while providing a consistent routine with built-in rest. It’s as simple as that. We do not overtrain them (going from practice to training session back to practice, then school and another training session after that). We do not have them competing all week and then all weekend – with no days off.

Kids need a life outside of sports. Parents and coaches need to understand this. As a coach, I have met many parents who have a solid understanding of what their child needs (days off, healthy food, support and balance). I have also met some that think the more their child is competing, the more exposure they’ll get and the more scholarship offers they’ll receive.

Reality is, to receive a college scholarship young athletes need to have a college-ready body and mind. Where does that begin?  School work, physical training, nutrition, and skills. Focusing on these four pillars of performance will do wonders for figuring out a solid routine.

Professional athletes take months off from their sport’s competitive season to recover, recharge, and train.

Written by: Sam Johnson

Date: 03.03.2021