Dr. Cassidy Preston is the founder of Consistent Elite Performance and is a full-time High-Performance Coach helping elite athletes, teams, and businesses increase their performance and well-being. I asked him to share some thoughts about mental health and he was happy to do that. You can read them below.
1. How did you get into performance coaching?
I came about it through my hockey career. I played 5 years of Junior Hockey, a little bit of pro, and then 5 years in University and I really struggled with my mindset. I committed to working on my mental game for myself, then eventually earned my Ph.D. and now I work full time helping athletes and business professionals develop elite mindsets.
2. What are some of the benefits of mental training on athletic performance?
The best way to explain the benefits is to use the “car vs driver” analogy. Your athletic ability & skills are like a ‘race-car,’ which most people spend the majority of their time working on. And that is important you need to be strong, fast, and skilled (i.e., have a great car). But what about the driver? That is is your mindset. There is no point in having a great car without a great driver. So we help people improve their mindset (play with confidence, be more resilient, and get in the ZONE) so they can get the most out of their car (their actual abilities).
3. What is the #1 mistake you see most weekend warriors face when it comes to their mental game?
There is two big mistakes I’ll identify. First is athletes get into their own heads when they fall into one or many of these common mental game traps: overthinking, worrying about mistakes, trying to force results, and holding on to self-doubt. All of these mental mistakes are interconnected and leave athletes in their own heads and underperforming. The second would be a negative, limiting, or fixed mindset where the athlete feels like they can’t improve their mental game: “I’m just not good under pressure” or “I can’t bounce back from mistakes.” These are self-fulfilling prophecies and are not true. Working on your mindset does not have to be that difficult and anyone can do it!
4. What is your #1 mental performance tip?
We talk a lot about your Alter Ego thanks to the great work of Todd Herman. We help people identify their best-self (in the zone) vs worse-self (in their own head), which then provides them the choice in how they want to show up at any moment. Another foundational mindset piece is finding your WHY. So many people and athletes think WHY they play is to achieve certain results like winning or being the best. The truth is those can be your goals & results, but the real WHY should be connected to your intrinsic drivers and the love of the game. There is a lot of nuance in flushing that out, but when athletes get that foundational concept flushed out, then everything else is a lot easier: they have more fun, play with more confidence, and get in the ZONE.
5. What impact has social media had on how we view our athletic performance and overall level of fitness?
Social media can have a negative impact on people’s mindsets and well-being. The amount of social comparison and worrying about what others think causes a toxic and unhealthy mindset. Comparison can be used in a healthy & helpful way, but the majority of the time social media is just pushing people towards perfectionism and results in athletes getting more into their own head.
6. Are your strategies transferable to other areas of your life?
Outside of the sports world, we do work with people in corporate, business or sales, etc. Confidence, resilience, and focus are important life skills that apply to all areas of your life. These skills are foundational to being a great leader and the bottom line is we help people show up as their best-self in whatever area of life they want to perform better.