WYC Episode 040 – Coaching the Mental Game – Dr. Patrick Cohn from Peak Performance Sports talks sports psychology

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What does it take to be a winning youth coach? Listen in as Dr. Patrick Cohn shares stories and discusses his journey to becoming a mental game of sports expert.

Dr. Patrick Cohn has been an athlete and a coach. He has experienced firsthand how beliefs, attitudes, and mindsets influence performance. Dr. Cohn’s passion for sports and sports psychology started early in life and continued to grow as he participated in sports such as football, hockey, baseball, lacrosse, racquetball, and golf.

Throughout high school and college, Dr. Cohn experienced both the joys of winning and the lessons of failure. After competing in sports for many years, Dr. Cohn went on to study and research sports psychology and the way that mental attitudes shape physical performance.  Ultimately, he earned a PhD in Education specializing in Applied Sports Psychology.

The more that Dr. Cohn studied champion athletes and their mindsets, the more he realized that winning attitudes are the key to performing well in competition.

Armed with the know-how needed to build champion athletes, master mental game coach Dr. Cohn has dedicated his mental game coaching business to helping every athlete—whether junior, amateur, or seasoned professional—excel in his or her sport.  His peak performance programs also help coaches, athletic trainers, and even parents of aspiring athletes.

Websites: peaksports.com; youthsportspsychology.com

Listen Now:

Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link


Coaching/Leadership Quote

Accentuate the self in self-confidence.  You can’t give kids self-confidence, because it becomes a false sense of security.  Move from ‘other-confidence’ to ‘self-confidence.’

Mental Peak Performance for Coaches

  • Most youth sports coaches don’t have any training – Define your philosophy and set goals
  • Coaches – are you putting pressure on young athletes to meet your expectations?  What are these expectations – is one of them for them not to make any mistakes?  Instead of putting expectations on the athletes – focus more on letting the kid know you believe in them and are excited to see them be great.
  • When a kid makes a mistake during a game – leave them in, and then address it in practice, at halftime, or some later point.  ‘Games are a reward for all the hard work they put in during practice.’

Mental Peak Performance for Parents

Huge Idea #1

  • Accentuate the self in self-confidence.  You can’t give kids self-confidence, because it becomes a false sense of security.  Move from ‘other-confidence’ to ‘self-confidence.’  The athlete has to think they can do it, regardless of what the parents and coaches tell them.

Mental Peak Performance for Athletes

  • Focus on your strengths.  Rely on practice, put in extra reps.  Focus on past successes.
  • Visualize very specifically what success is going to look like during a tryout/game

Pre-game and Post-game tips for coaches

Huge Idea #2

  • Discuss with your athletes: During games – it’s time to be done practicing.  Go out and enjoy the game.  Play free.
  • Simplify things.  Get the athlete to be thinking about images and feelings, not mechanics.

Inspiring Story

  • A racer saw himself as a top 5 racer, but not the top racer.  He was limited by his own expectations and beliefs.


  • If you focus on executing your best in the moment, the winning usually takes care of itself
  • At younger ages, the focus should be: developing skills, developing confidence, how to work with teammates, how to take instruction, how to manage mistakes

The One that Got Away

  • Dr. Cohn focuses on not letting the sport define you.  You a person first and foremost, sports does not define you.

Peak Performance Sports and Youth Sports Psychology

Parting Advice

  • Make sure the kids are smiling and having fun

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