Hey everybody, I’m Brian Clapp VP of Content and Engaged Learning for WorkInSports.com and this is the Work In Sports podcast…
Watching the Super Bowl one year I looked down at my hands and noticed I was shaking a bit. Here I was on my couch, watching someone else perform...and I was nervous? Anxious?
Stress hormones we’re flooding my body, speeding up my heart rate and breathing, while increasing my blood pressure.
I stopped and laughed for a second thinking, how in the hell do these athletes do it?
How does Tom Brady, or Lebron James, or Daniel Hudson perform to their best with everyone watching and everything on the line? History. Fame. Teammates. Fans. All in one moment.
Again, I remind you, my hands were shaking on my couch with none of this at stake.
You may think elite athletes are a special breed, but that isn’t it. They may have special skills, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate to a special mentality.
Take Ernie Els for example. 4-time major winner on the PGA tour was three feet away from making par on the first hole of the masters in 2016.
He missed. And then proceeded to miss 5 more times. A quintuple bogey on the first hole from three feet away.
Anna Kournikova - remember her? Photogenic Russian tennis star. Lost the ability to serve. 17 double faults in one set during a match.
Look up Steve Sax, Rick Ankiel, Mackey Sasser, Chuck Knoblauch and you’ll find more elite athletes with incredible physical skills, who were unable to master the mental side of performance.
Physical skills are just one part of the equation - what separates the good from the great and the greatest ...is the mental component.
But these athletes don’t go it alone. They don’t will themselves to be mentally tougher or stronger or more resilient. They have help.
Mental Skills coaches are changing the way organizations consider their athletes. For a long time, it was a focus on physical strength, nutrition and repeated game-conditions practice to reach maximum output. But over the last decade, a greater emphasis has been placed on the mental side, conditioning the athletes with how to think, prepare, execute and frame their mind.
Mental skills training now works in conjunction with strength and conditioning to make the athletes unlock their full potential.
This to me is absolutely fascinating, unlocking the power of the mind to help the elite skills come through more consistently.
This is why I couldn’t be more excited to have Hannah Huesman, Philadelphia Phillies Mental Skills Coach and incredible social media follow, on the show… here’s Hannah:
1: I’m so excited about this conversation because it is a totally new direction for our podcast – I’ve wanted to delve into the mindset as it applies to athletes, but also for job seekers, for a long time so I’m thankful to you for coming on.
But before we get into you work with the Phillies organization, let’s go back a bit so we can understand how you got here.
You were a division 1 athlete – playing both basketball and softball at UT-Chattanooga – so clearly you had a love of sports. Why did you decide you wanted sports to be more than just a hobby and you wanted it to be your career?
2: I’ve always felt being a student-athlete is a huge advantage because of the life skills you get exposed to – time management, leadership, responsibility, teamwork – how did being a student-athlete help you in your life at large, but in your career especially?
3: You studied kinesiology and exercise science as an undergrad, then kinesiology with an emphasis in sports psychology and motor behavior as a grad student at the University of Tennessee – it sounds like you had career focus pretty early on, what pushed you in this direction?
4: Let’s talk about your field of mental training on a high level then we’ll dig in there a bit. It seems interesting to me that this isn’t new science by any stretch… but now it is outside the research lab and inside the workplace more than ever – it’s almost like sports analytics, people have always crunched numbers, but now it’s more commonplace.
Analytics had its Moneyball moment that brought it out into the sunlight -- what do you attribute the mainstreaming of mental skill training to?
5: When you tell people that you work in mental skills training – what’s the reaction? Is it excitement and curiosity or is it skepticism?
6: How did you get started with the Phillies?
6: So let’s talk about how this works with athletes – you work across the Philadelphia Phillies organization – so how does it work for you, do you do group sessions? Set up a program that the stakeholders on the ground execute? Work with individuals in a slump?
Break this down for us!
6: Have you found that some organizations are really embracing the mental skills training and others aren’t or is there universal acceptance?
7: Our audience is full of sports-crazed job seekers. They are kinesiology, sports management, and business majors, or they are career changers, or they are trying to advance in their careers.
I’m my convoluted way of thinking they are like athletes, with lots of pressure and stress on them right now. So let’s see if we can’t share some of your mental and life skills with them.
Let’s talk about stress. These guys and gals are feeling the pressure of career and life – what is the best way to handle this pressure?
8: In sports, we so often judge our teams and athletes based on outcome… if they hit a home run they are awesome and if they strike out they are bad. Is focusing on the outcome the right approach in sports or in sports?
9: What is your take on mental toughness? I’ve had people tell me it’s a myth, I’ve had others tell me it’s the key to life. So where do you stand?
10: When you look back at the people and athletes you have worked with – is there a pattern that describes those who have found success? Are there certain things they all do really well?
11: Every Monday you share a short 1-minute video under the hashtag #mentalsweatmonday – and I LOVE these little sessions. You don’t even know me, and yet I feel like in certain ways you are my Sherpa. One of my absolute favorites was focused on everyone trying to take the easy way out… of everything.
I feel we’ve turned into a just add water society, where everyone wants everything to happen instantaneously – what is your message for people with that mindset?
12: How has reception changed for you over the first decade of your career? I imagine some athletes, firemen, and CEOs we’re against this type of training at the beginning… but what is it like for you now? Is it easier to breakthrough?
13: Where do you see this side of the industry in the future – are we in the infancy and there is a marathon growth curve ahead?
Listen in to this episode with Hannah Huesman, Philadelphia Phillies Mental Skills Coach for the answers to these questions and more!