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Mindset training can have a profound impact on the success and well-being of young athletes. I had the privilege of speaking with Brad Dempsey, the visionary behind Mindset Sports, a coaching company and community committed to cultivating a positive and winning mindset in our youth athletes. Through Brad’s wealth of knowledge and experience, we break down the key components of a strong mindset foundation and discover the techniques that help budding athletes find fulfillment, intrinsic reward, and happiness in sport.

Helping Athletes Thrive

Distractions can be the downfall of even the most determined athletes, but in this episode, we discuss how tools like journaling, mindfulness, and visualization can change the game. Brad’s unique coaching approach nurtures personal responsibility and establishes boundaries that foster growth. We will explore the extraordinary power of encouragement and reveal how parents, coaches, and mentors can effectively support their aspiring champions. 

Brad sheds light on the common challenges faced by young athletes, such as mental burdens, lack of concentration, and performance anxiety. He emphasizes the significance of fostering a strong sense of self, establishing healthy boundaries, and overcoming resistance to change and thought-provoking questions. 

For more valuable insights and updates from Mindset Sports, be sure to connect with them on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Brad’s key takeaways:

  • The power of encouragement
  • Leading by example for young athletes
  • Allowing kids to take responsibility for their own growth
  • The importance of sleep, nutrition, and lifestyle
  • How do you help athletes untangle their relationship with their sport?
  • Tools for preparing for competition and removing mental weight

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Listen to Brad’s episode


Episode Chapters

  • Humbleness is not thinking less of yourself. 0:02
  • How do you help athletes untangle their relationship with their sport? 5:17
  • The importance of being a morning person. 11:31
  • The importance of sleep and nutrition. 17:04
  • Living in the expectations of others. 23:35
  • Resistance is a big part of resistance. 27:42
  • It’s all about lifestyle. 32:18
  • How to start shedding mental weight. 36:08
  • How to help people with performance anxiety? 41:27
  • Tools for preparing for competition. 45:46
  • How to set boundaries around saying no. 51:14



Brad Dempsey 0:02
So one of my favorite coaches, Tony Bennett, University of Maine, University of Virginia, men’s basketball coach says humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking about yourself less. I feel like people in general, their learned behavior is to be humble. And to not think about themselves. But in return, we become selfish because we think about ourselves all the time, because we don’t fill ourselves with the thinking of how we feel about ourselves. We don’t identify with who we are, who we want to be what we want to become, instead, we were taught to chase something else, to chase, the big job, the dream job, being a professional athlete, whatever it may be, I’m not saying it’s bad to have a dream. But the process that it takes the strategies and skills that have to be implemented in someone’s life to be able to reach that dream, are mission critical, and they’re being left out. And what we’re seeing more now than ever, with, with social media, and I’m not saying I’m not gonna say her best social media, there’s great things about social media. But what we’re seeing is everyone’s chasing, I had a coach say this the other day, trying to be the 1%, the 99% are trying to be the 1%, this The Tik Tok superstar, the Instagram real star, the professional athlete, the best, this are the best of that. But while they’re chasing all that, they’re not learning to have a sense of self. Like, who are you? Why do you want that? Do you want that because you’re gonna make millions of dollars. But we already know that Steve Jobs, he said it himself. You can have as much money in the world as you want, that’s not going to make you happy. You know, what, what’s your life gonna look like when you get there? And you have no substance. And those are questions we have to ask ourselves.

Sonya Looney 2:17
I mean, this is really important work. And you put that so concisely, and even you mentioned the 99%, trying to reach for the 1%. And then once you get to the 1%, there’s still another breakdown of the 99% and the 1% of the 1%. And as an infinitesimal game of always thinking, I need to have more. And people also always think everybody else has an easier than me, and I catch myself doing that as well. So you know, whenever we’re talking about striving and the process of having a sense of self, and thinking about yourself in a way where you’re relating to yourself in a helpful way, like, what’s a good place to start? Because I’m sure a lot of people listening think I’ve had that happen before. But how do I start knowing myself?

Brad Dempsey 3:02
We hear this all the time, all the time. And it’s really what what is your why? What’s your purpose? And you spend your whole life trying to figure out what your purpose is, what your why is, it’s not it’s not a question that you’re just going to be able to answer today or tomorrow, or six months from now. You have to look at what you enjoy. Like what do you what do you enjoy? What what are the things in your life? That bring you fulfillment? Is it helping someone out? Is it painting? Is it singing? Is it riding a mountain bike? What brings joy to your life, that’s extremely important. These are the these because when you know what brings joy to your life, you’re able to find your skills. You can find your skills and that you know, I work in the sports business. I love sports. People are my passion. Sports are my joy, right? There’s a lot of things in sports that bring out the worst in people. But again, what you find happening is those people are chasing after something without getting the substance of what’s important without building that character that integrity. So really, I truly believe it starts what you know, we always say what is your why well what do you like What do you dislike? What do you enjoy? If you if you dislike something? Why? Like what what is it about that you don’t like and really trying to fine tune? You know, where your brain spaces What’s your personality? You know, what, what is your personality? There’s so many great personality tools and different identify it. You know, there’s things out there that kind of give you an idea of Oh, I think that way that’s why I think that way, just learning about yourself is where you start in my opinion.

Sonya Looney 4:56
Yeah, having that curiosity piece is so important and you figuring out the best way that you can relate to that curiosity like some people love to read books and take tests to figure out who they are. Other people like to throw themselves into the arena and see what happens. Something I wanted to bring up is you said that competition, and sports can bring out the worst in people. And that does come from people’s relationship with achievement or lack thereof, or fear of other people’s opinions. So you know, you work with a lot of youth athletes, how do you help them untangle from being more externally focused on what other people are thinking when they’re watching them?

Brad Dempsey 5:38
That’s a great question. Because most youth athletes relationship with their sport is unhealthy. It’s an unhealthy relationship. And it starts from that pressure to achieve at a high level to be the best or, you know, parents coaches, they want it’s a it’s a constant, consistent, you have to perform at a high level. And they don’t, they don’t know how to do that. They don’t have the strategies and the skills, they don’t have the brain space. So we’re just putting mental weight on these athletes. I attribute it to I talked to I was working with a golfer just last week actually spent 18 holes with him. I said, I mean, have you ever thought what it would be like to swing 150 pound golf club? Is not, that’d be awful. I said, Well, that’s what you’re doing right now. You know, I tell I tell a soccer player, hey, it’s like, what would it be like to go play this game, with a 75 pound backpack on your back. That’d be awful, I wouldn’t be able to do it. Well, that’s what you’re doing. It’s not physical weight, it’s mental weight, which weighs just as much if not more, it slows you down. It doesn’t allow you to, to think properly, it doesn’t allow you to play free. So you have all this constricting your mind. And what you’ve gone through the pressures to the desire to achieve with self and then what everybody else wants for you. And it just becomes an unhealthy relationship with the sport where it’s not even fun anymore. They’re doing it because they feel like they have to. I’ve had athletes switch sports. I’ve had athletes move away from sports and move into something else. Because what we do that mindset sports isn’t about the sport. It’s about the person, when we say personal personal development through sports for life. So we’re using sport as the vehicle to personally develop so that you can see, learn your personality, learn what you like, dislike about the sport, but unraveling all of that. It’s all about like, if I were working with you, Sonya, it would be all about you. And that’s uncomfortable for a lot of a lot of people when it becomes all about them. So it takes time. But really what we do, it’s about encouragement. It’s about just allowing that person to have a safe space to have a mentor to talk through things to talk about things to gain. We try to meet our athletes where they’re at. Meaning we have all the strategies and skills or we have what we call pathways. We don’t say programs because we feel like programs come to an end. We say pathway because the pathway never stops. And so when we talk about our pathways, we have to meet Sonya where she’s at. Where are you at Sonya? What strategy? What skill do you need right now to be better tomorrow, or to be better for what you have to attack this week. In oh, by the way, we use an organizational toolbox. It’s extremely important. One of our best coaches, who is a former Army colonel of 15 years, is an organizational guru. And our athletes in school are not being taught how to organize their brain how to organize all the things they have, or that it’s even important that they keep a calendar, or a daily journal or a daily planner, so that they know what’s going on. Because if it’s all in your head, it becomes overwhelming. So we try to break things down into details that are important, and help them and help our athletes understand from youth to pro understand that the smallest thing can cause mental weight in your life. And you got to get away from that.

Sonya Looney 9:30
Yeah, it’s interesting. As a parent, you know, I have two toddlers and I do a lot of reading on parenting and communication. And a lot of the things that you learn that you’re supposed to teach your kids also apply to adults. And a lot of times we weren’t taught a lot of these things, or maybe the research around these things didn’t even exist when we were younger. So the journey is helping youth but it’s also helping ourselves in the process because in order to help somebody else you have to know yourself too. So I’d love to hear about your process. process of figuring out who is Brad? And what is Brad passionate about? Wow.

Brad Dempsey 10:07
That that’s a that’s a great question. So for me, I, when I was 13, I was in a bad car accident, I suffered traumatic brain injury, which brought mental health challenges into my life to stay, like not to go away or to be fixed, but to stay. So meaning many, many years of suffering from significant depression, not just mental, not just mental, but physical, I deal with a lot of chronic pain, a lot of things that I didn’t ask for. And, you know, when you’re going through that as a young age, you’re the only person going through it, you get into your early 20s, you’re the only person going through it. But you know, growing up in the 90s, early 2000s, you kept things to yourself. You didn’t want everybody knowing your problems, your bag of issues or whatever. Well, that’s that’s significantly changed. So we talk about things more openly. But what are we doing about it? And so for me, I believe in living in the expectations of everything that that I that I teach that we teach, we do and we talk about that a lot with our coaches, meaning the daily journal, the calendaring, the the journaling, the reading and gathering information, learning about others, how we treat people, being a servant leader. Those are, those are all things that I’ve learned to do. I mean, for how many of us will say we’re not a morning person, I know you are son, you got to get out workout before your kids even even think about waking up, which it would be really early. And so for me, I get up at 415 Almost every morning, and I work out with a group of guys that I’ve met over 200 guys with this group, we work out outside hot or cold rain or shine, unless it’s dangerous. And I you know, I sometimes like right now I’m doing 75 hard, well, why am I doing 75 Hard 75 Hard just a discipline of five things you have to do every day, you have to workout twice, two different 45 minute workouts 44 hours apart, one of them has to be outside, you have to read 10 pages, you have to follow some sort of nutritional plan. And, you know, you have to get adequate amount of sleep. So it’s just being able to fit all of that into your day, which means you have to be organized and you have to, you have to have structure in your life. So for me, it’s it’s constantly figuring out how to be well structured with my life, I have three kids that are very busy. I have a wife, as a teacher, I serve on a couple boards and are in our community, I’m on a leadership team. And so there’s a lot going on. And being able to balance all of that in a healthy way, is extremely important. So every time and guess what Sani I fall apart. I fall apart. Like I struggle, I have challenges, it’s hard. And through all of that I get to learn and I get to share I don’t obviously sit there and share about myself with with athletes, but I live in the expectations with them. That I’m able to be honest and say, you know, hey, I know I’m your coach, but I’m far from perfect. I’ve battled that too. And that that means something to them, because that means that you care and and you’re willing to share and be open. And it helps them understand that this whole picture of authority figures of these people are up here telling looking down on me telling me what to do and how to do it all the time. They’re not perfect. And I think one of the biggest challenges we have now, you mentioned that a minute ago, is our parents out there aren’t taking care of themselves. And they’re not doing what they need to do for themselves. Therefore they are failing their their children. And I’m not pointing fingers. I’m saying that this is honestly what’s happening. And I’m saying it in truth because I was doing it myself. I was so caught up in what I was going through and what wasn’t working for me or how things weren’t going for me that I was not being a good father and husband, to my wife and my kids. And that realization was like getting knocked out, like getting punched in the face. And I had to really, really, really go to work on myself. And I’ve been I’ve been in that mode and I’m going to stay in that mode for a long time.

Sonya Looney 14:43
Yeah, that’s your pathway. It sounds like something that’s really important as a foundation to use specifically is learning so you said reading 10 pages sleep so I imagine you probably go to bed pretty early if you’re getting up at 415 in the morning and I think that that is often something that people don’t mention like, oh, this morning thing, you got to get up super early, but then people don’t mention that, yeah, they’re going to bed to, so they can get sleep, the movement piece, and then the food piece, like those are kind of four pillars that are upholding you so that you can be your best.

Brad Dempsey 15:14
Absolutely. I mean that we, things are really simple. But the simple is really, really hard. Everything that’s easy, becomes very, very complex. nutrition, hydration and sleep. Are you kidding me? Like that’s, that’s not hard. Now, actually, there’s hard, but it’s simple. I mean, you had to had to make yourself drink an adequate amount of water every day. You have to eat the food that you’re filling yourself with. Right? By the way, if you’re putting all kinds of sugars and toxins in your body, every day, it’s going into your brain. It’s clouding your judgment, it’s making you tired. You know, if you’re living off of caffeine, that’s not healthy either. But these are decisions people have to make. And we get upset when when when cancer rolls around, or whatever. But a lot of what we put in our body causes cancer. We build new cells when we sleep, well, are you getting an adequate amount of sleep we need our body is built to have water Are you like these are things that you people have to ask themselves. And we teach that we teach that to our athletes, and it’s hard for them. Because they don’t always get to make all of the decisions of how things happen in their household or the way things go. But again, if we’re able to plant the seed of knowledge, when it comes to those pieces, it’s really important.

Sonya Looney 16:45
Getting that physical piece, that physical foundation set so that you can have the space to improve your relationship to yourself, your relationship with your emotions, and even how to handle competition is so key. Because if you’re tired and unhealthy, it’s really difficult to do this extra work.

Brad Dempsey 17:04
Well, let me ask you a question. And you’re a world class athlete. When you’re talking about sleep, hydration nutrition, like is that not like the foundation of what you’re building off of?

Sonya Looney 17:18
Absolutely. And I think for our kids to everybody’s parenting is different. So there’s no judgment on what other people are doing. But we also prioritize sleep and food as the number one things for our kids. So like, we don’t skip naps, we will change our plans so that the kids can stay home and get enough sleep, they go to bed at like we’ve sleep train them, so they go to bed early, because they’re really different when they’re not sleeping. And I know that I’m really different. When I’m not sleeping, even one night of bad sleep, I’m not the same person.

Brad Dempsey 17:50
Yeah, in I’ve, we talk about performance. And you you’ve performed at the highest levels. And you talk about those foundational things, but you look at what people are doing instead, you know, kids on their phones on social media until who knows how many hours in the night or playing games, or whatever they’re doing eating fast food or, or not eating, not eating at proper times. Like they don’t eat supper until 10 o’clock at night. Well, that’s not healthy. You know, that’s, that throws your digestive system off. So these, these people are living this way. And yet, they’re getting yelled at and screamed at because they’re not performing at a high level. That doesn’t make any sense. Like how you you’ve you’ve done everything that you need to do to not perform at a high level, but you’re expected to perform at a high level. That’s that’s there’s words for that, that I can’t use on this podcast.

Sonya Looney 18:53
It’s like letting all the air out of the tires of the car and filling it with water and maybe a little bit of gas and then saying Okay, go.

Brad Dempsey 19:00
Exactly. It’s exactly what it’s like. But you know what? Shiny, it’s the norm. It’s the norm. So why not? You know, it’s the norm for I say this resistance. Yeah, there’s the cell phone is a great tool to be able to contact people be connected with people we’re on, you know, technology is why we’re able to do this right now. But there there there has to be boundaries with everything. There has to be a discipline with everything. The fact you know, when you and I were growing up Sonya, it was bad if we turn on Cinemax or HBO on cable, because there was things that we shouldn’t see. But now, our young people have access. I mean, we’re just kids in first grade with cell phones, or maybe even younger, they have access to anything in the whole world. They can get a hold of whatever they want to and it’s in front of their face. That’s traumatic. That’s traumatic like the Young people are having traumatic experiences they’re seeing they’re discussing, their brains are developing, they’re not ready for a lot of the things that are happening. Yet they’re expected to go perform in school, they’re expected to go perform on on the playing field or in an orchestra or in a band. It’s It’s unbelievable to me, because what really needs to be happening is we need to be setting boundaries, and we need to have discipline back in our lives. And I’m not. Again, you said earlier, I’m not judging anyone. I’m just saying it’s factual that we need to be disciplined people in order to be at our best. I mean, that’s just for me, that’s factual.

Sonya Looney 20:39
So you’re a mindset coach for for for youth. And these things are kind of in the realm of the parent. Right. So, you know, how do you do? What do you advise the parents? Like? How do you create help help these boundaries form in these children’s lives?

Brad Dempsey 20:55
Yes, we try. Yes, I mean, I spent 12 years in education. I’ve had many, many challenging, difficult conversations with parents. And it’s hard. Because you don’t want to point a finger, you don’t want them to feel like you’re judging. But one of the things I that I get to say, and I get to share is, hey, I screw up all the time. I’ve screwed up too. But if you want to have boundaries for your athlete, meaning you want to set boundaries, on social media, you want to set boundaries with phone time, whatever. I don’t care what everybody else is doing. You have to live in that expectation too. You have to live in that expectation, too. It’s as simple as as a professor teaching a science class, junior year in high school. And the rule, the rule is no food in the room. No food, you can’t have food, and then he walks in with a double cheeseburger. This happens all the time. Well, you just lost the respect all those kids. Because you told them, they can’t have it. But you can. And are these the gender this generation of young people is different. They have access to again, they have access to everything at their fingertips. So if you’re going to tell them to do something, you’re going to hold them accountable to something, you better do it too. That’s just my I mean, that’s my advice to parents. I tell parents all the time. Because kids are so smart. You know that Sonya and your your people are little like they are like sponges. They blow I had this conversation. I think it was yesterday, you know, life coaching has become a really big thing. The type of stuff that we do is it can be it’s considered life coaching. Well, it’s it’s big for adults. But why? Why? Why do you have to become an adult with all these bad habits before you get life coaching? You know, these young people need good mentors in their life, they need people that can teach them and help them maybe avoid some of the bad habits that the coping mechanisms that they they may be up against, whether it be smoking, drinking, gambling, drugs, whatever it may be, why does somebody have to go through that? Why can’t they learn at an early age, and I know there’s programs and schools, but we use the saying, it doesn’t have to be a big thing. It has to be an everyday thing. So how can you make what you do an everyday thing, and as a parent and everyday thing is living in expectations with your kids?

Sonya Looney 23:35
I’ve heard you say yeah, living in the expectation several times. So you’re saying living in the expectations that you have for other people and living up to those expectations, aka leading by example? Yes,

Brad Dempsey 23:49
absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, for me, those young people nowadays, those are learned behaviors, you’re actually showing an example of leadership that they can, they can mimic, they can mimic that they already they mimic everything else, why not give them something really good to mimic?

Sonya Looney 24:10
So my question is, like, it sounds like, there’s a few different issues at hand here. I mean, one of them is just some of the things that we do culturally, which I can even depend on where you live. But number two is that there’s a lot of parents that aren’t taking care of themselves that don’t have this sense of self that you were talking about in the beginning, that may not feel that they can dedicate time to their their sleep and their nutrition and their mindset. And then you have their kids who are looking to the parents and also don’t have these boundaries but have external expectations to perform. So it sounds like there’s there’s kind of two different problems. It’s number one, you know, the adults taking responsibility for themselves and who they are, which is a difficult task. Like I’m a health and wellness coach, like it is very difficult for people to make these changes and to even want to make these changes. And then number two, you know, there’s the kids. So it almost seems like the adults and the kids need to be a working unit together to both be trying to figure out who they are and how to change their behavior and how to show up as their best. So you are primarily working with the youth youth side of things like, how, how can this problem be addressed so that both sides can work together? And I don’t want to say sides, but both both teammates in a family, you’re your team? How can the team work together?

Brad Dempsey 25:38
That’s what we call it. We call it team family. So, so the Looney team, right? That would be your you guys are you guys are a team, you’re a functioning team. You know, we when we talk about in my house, we don’t use the word chores. You know, everybody’s got a part to play. If If my wife Gala and I are doing everything, and the kids aren’t having to live up to any type of responsibilities, and how are they being a part of the team. But they take ownership and that young people will take ownership, they love to be held accountable, they love to have things to do you know why? Because when my daughter gets her laundry done, or when she does a certain thing around the house, she cleaned up the kitchen a couple of days ago, really, you know, it was a mess, we got home from vacation, Dad, I got it all cleaned up. And then I went and looked at she’s 13. And I went and looked at it. You know proud of that she was she felt good. Because she cleaned the kitchen. Like the intrinsic reward that comes from doing stuff like that is getting missed out on all over the place. Because just because we’re not having them be a part of the team. There’s no expectations there. It’s Oh, they don’t you know, you know, she just doesn’t like that. And all she does is she’s on her phone all the time. And wait a second, you’re the parent, you’re the parent, it’s your responsibility to hold them to a standard of being responsible and taking ownership. If you guys all do it together as a family, it’s awesome. And then the next piece and we use triangles. Sonya, so for me, I’m the coach, and I’m a part of that triangle of helping those to work that together, right. But the organizations, the schools, the teams, the sports, whatever they’re involved in, that’s another piece of everybody needing to work together. But what happens instead, everybody works against each other. Because it’s, it’s a competition to see who’s at the top and who can be the best, we lose concept of what really, team really is because we get stuck on individuality. And we get stuck in on individuality and in the wrong way. Right? The selfish way versus the selfless way in this in order to really be a selfless person, you really, really, really have to take care of yourself. You got to be in a good good place to be able to lead and help other people. And so yeah, we’re up against it big time. We are we’re so up against it, that it’s not even funny. But the beautiful thing is Sonya is there’s great people out there everywhere. We just need good leaders.

Sonya Looney 28:36
So it sounds like resistance is a really big part of this resistance of it within the triangle resistance of the individual and also to hold boundaries to create routines. And even to open up the hood and look inside your own brain and inside yourself. There’s resistance. And people want to take the easy way out because we’re that’s that’s how humans are wired is to take the easy way. And even with like you said, Your daughter cleaned up the kitchen. You know, I’ve only been a parent for a couple of years. So I can’t really speak, you know, in this in this way for very well. But like, it’s easier to just pull your kids pants up for them. It’s easier to just clean the kitchen quickly because it’ll be done your way it’s easier to just let the bedtime slide. But what are the bigger term, longer term consequences of this? So how do you help people, you know, student or parent overcome some of this resistance because it’s easier to just do it yourself or to do it the easy way.

Brad Dempsey 29:37
One of the biggest things wins that we have with our young people is having them as we teach them the strategies, right? Whether it’s organizational toolbox mindset toolbox. A part of of those strategies is encouragement. You know, I really think you know, whatever they’re going through Let’s work on can you get to bed by 9pm? Every night this week? Yeah, Coach, I think I can well, let’s look at your schedule. You know, let’s look at your practice and whatnot. Okay? All right, this night, your your you practice until eight? What’s it going to take for you to be in bed by nine if you’re not going to get home till 820? So we look and we break down to a tee what that looks like and help them. Right think like critically think I’m just I just I have guided questions. And I’m asking them, because they know, like they already know. And so when you’re coaching someone, they have the answers, most of the time they already have the answers, you have to empower them to believe in those answers that they have for themselves. And to to use them. A lot of a lot of people don’t have the belief in themselves or the confidence in their abilities to consistently move with that. And so once once our young people realize, wait a second, and then you know, we meet the next week? Yeah, Coach four out of the five nights, I was in bed by nine. I feel much better. I feel clear in the mind. Like, she’s not just telling me that or he’s not just telling me that like they’re, they’re being honest. You know, or, or, you know, it was really hard last week. Oh, well, what made it really hard? Well, this happened. And that happened. That’s okay, these things happen. But the way you adjusted, that was awesome. And then circling back, when when when we get to that feedback piece, whether it’s two weeks and four weeks in or whatever, every other week, however, we have set out with a parent, you share that. And then and then you encourage them to do the same thing with their athlete that you did, like, hey, you know, work on it with them. Like this is this is where you can win at home, you guys are doing the same thing and why it’s gonna make you better too. And there’s there’s really not a whole lot of resistance when it comes to that the resistances and you know, this Sanyo, the resistance is someone paying money to take care of themselves. Wait a second, I’m paying money to take care of myself. That’s really hard that they want a quick fix. Wait, I can lose 20 pounds in a month if I do this program for three weeks? Yeah, but you’re probably gonna gain 30 after you get off the program after three weeks, and you go back to your old habits,

Sonya Looney 32:33
or I’ll read this book, which is great. But then I’ll never put the what I learned into action in real life.

Brad Dempsey 32:38
Yeah, it’s all about lifestyle. It’s all about live everything. It’s all about lifestyle. How do you want to live your life. If you want fulfillment, and you want intrinsic reward, and you want to be happy, you can get overwhelmed by or you can just start small, with little things. Little things, like saying, I’m going to drink this much water, and I’m going to go to bed at this time at night. And I’m going to eat certain foods. That’s a good start. It’s a really good start, because you’re going to feel better, pretty quickly. Maybe if your body’s detoxing that they may you might throw in depends on what your habits are, I guess.

Sonya Looney 33:21
So for this overcoming resistance piece, I heard you say that you ask people questions. Those are open ended questions, asking what or how. And then you have them come up with their own solution because they know the answers intrinsically, instead of you telling them what to do. And I think that this is such a huge part of coaching that is often overlooked as people think coaches, especially mindset coaches are going to tell people what to do. But it’s not about telling them what to do. It’s about helping them find their own intrinsic motivation and their own solutions. So I’m so glad that you brought that up.

Brad Dempsey 33:55
100% That’s all it is, like, again, learned behaviors is our young people are taught that they need to be told what to do and how to do it. different personalities deal with that in different ways. But ultimately, if you really want to empower someone to be their best, then you want them to be able to believe in themselves have that confidence in their abilities and learn how to consistently do something. And the best way to do that is to through encouragement. Encouragement is the most powerful tool for young people. For people in general. I said I work out with probably 100 different guys in one week. I’m always encouraging guys. Like that’s what I love to do. It fills me up to be able to encourage other people you know me messages I get weekly from guys just saying, Hey, man, thanks for your encouragement this week. I think it really meant a lot like it means something to someone, when you encourage them or when you see something in them that maybe they don’t see in themselves. I like that That’s gold. And that’s, that’s what that’s it. And that’s just person to person that’s just loving on somebody. And that’s, for me, the key to everything is love. It’s just showing people the love and, and believing in people, regardless of what their opinions are, what their lifestyle is, what their beliefs are, if you can just show them a little love and a smile and tell them you care about them. And that means a lot to somebody, it really does.

Sonya Looney 35:32
Yeah, knows that encouragement generates positive emotions, which is one of the key elements of wellbeing. And in our relationships, it’s very easy to be focused on critical feedback of, you know, you see somebody, this is a really easy example, someone’s doing a squat, and instead of encouraging them, you immediately jump to, well, you could improve by doing this, and we want to help people improve. But there needs to be more encouragement than critical feedback. And I think of this even in romantic relationships, like, how often do you encourage your partner versus ask them what they can do for you or for the household. And it’s easy to slip into that.

Brad Dempsey 36:11
It is you and I can go out and we talked about youth, we can go out to the in Canada, here in Missouri, we go out to these youth fields, or courts or whatever. And the majority, that coaching we’re going to see being done is what they need to do better, or what they’re not doing. It’s a majority of what we’re going to see. And we’re gonna hear. And that’s what we’re paying these people to do for our kids. And I’m not knocking these coaches, these coaches put in a lot of time, effort and energy. But they’re missing the boat on what’s important, right? They’re not, they’re not they’re not getting out of these athletes what they should be, and they’re not, they’re not getting out of themselves what they should be, because they’re focused on the wrong things. I spend, I spend every day on my life’s on you. Try not to be focused on the on the wrong things. That’s just, that’s just what it is.

Sonya Looney 37:05
So you said earlier, a lot of youth athletes, and also just anybody walks around with mental weight, the golf player with 150 pound golf club, as a soccer player with the extra 70 pounds of mental weight. And you mentioned also a mindset toolbox that probably helps relieve some of that wait. So what is in that toolbox? How can people start shedding some of this mental weight so that they can do what they’re meant to do?

Brad Dempsey 37:32
Yeah, you’ve heard me say strategies and skills multiple times. It’s understanding what mindsets understanding what it means to focus a lot of coaches and teachers focus, focus focus, they get that that means to pay attention. But what are the distractions that that particular person is up against? That’s getting in the way of them focusing? Right? So being able to say, okay, you know, what focus means, but what’s, what are your distraction? What’s what’s holding you back. And lo and behold, a lot of times they know it’ll take, it’ll take a little bit of work with different individuals to really uncover that it may take a few, few sessions. But in the end, it’s them being able to see in front of them, I do a lot of whiteboarding. So you and you and I are, you know, we can see each other right now through this, but I whiteboard to where they can see in front of them as a visual learner, what, what they’re saying, right, so so we get it out of their head in front of them. So there’s a lot of strategies in that way. That that we teach visualization, breathing techniques, how to use those, but not just tell them, but help them figure out for themselves. You know, what does it look like for you? I had a AAA hockey player. I said it was weird when it because I could tell by by his Yeah, I thought it was weird. But now he loves it. He just he just went over to Europe and played he loves He loves using visualization because it works for him. It’s different, but they have to find a way that it works for them. And so we give them different you know, different ways to try. We don’t give him this big ol How do you make this an everyday thing? What is visualization look like for you? So

Sonya Looney 39:24
I’m gonna I’m gonna interrupt real quick and say that sometimes people think oh, visualization or mental imagery is weird. But we spend all day imagining all the things that we don’t want to have happen. And it’s just not a conscious. I’m gonna sit here and do a visualization. So what would happen if you actually spent the time to visualize what you do want to have happen in great detail?

Brad Dempsey 39:43
That’s it. It’s that simple. It’s really that symbol and getting getting that but making it a an everyday thing. How do you make it as white as a bit? Why would it be an everyday thing? Well, you got a lot going on. Not in a day. So it’s really important that you have techniques that work for you, that help you to get through the day. I always tell people this, if you can get home, after a day, and you had a horrible day, and still smile and say, Yeah, I learned a lot today or, or you’re, you’re still in a good place and you’re ready to go tomorrow, you’re in a really good place in your life. And that’s the goal for these athletes, can you play a really, you, you can have a bad game, but you can still have been affected, you still made an impact. And you still love to play and you still want to go back tomorrow, instead of being devastated by the fact that you didn’t do what you wanted to do or where you should have done. But again, we use the word creativity all the time. And I know you know a lot about creativity, because you have to be creative, in order to be to perform at a high level in any aspect of life.

Sonya Looney 40:58
So I want to go back to the visualization piece. What if somebody is visualizing like, say this, this hockey player they’re visualizing, I don’t know a lot about hockey, but like they’re they want to score a goal is that you call it it’s called scoring a goal, right? And they think they visualize it, but they don’t believe in themselves. They don’t believe that they can actually make that happen. Like, well, I’ve done the training, wouldn’t it be great if I could do this? And they’re visualizing it, but they still think, I don’t know if I could do that. Like, how do you help them overcome that barrier?

Brad Dempsey 41:27
Practice. So we, I’m very careful with with goals, right goals that are very result oriented me like, like scoring a goal. It’s really hard

Sonya Looney 41:42
to score a goal. And a lot of it’s out of your control to

Brad Dempsey 41:46
Yeah, and so we’re very cognizant when we, when we work with people, it’s very process oriented. There’s nothing wrong with visualizing yourself scoring the goal. But but to understand that we, you know, how did you score that goal on your visualization, you need a practice that over and over and over and over and over and over again, in practice, actually do it. And that’s another thing that drives me nuts about these coaches is they expect these athletes to be able to do things that they don’t routinely practice. You know, with repetition, things have to be done with repetition. So we make sure that they understand that it takes repetition and practice of a skill, to be able to master a skill to be able to do it in performance. So otherwise, it really is just a dream.

Sonya Looney 42:43
Yeah, I’m so glad that you said that. It’s about process and skill and visualizing yourself executing on those things, because those are within your control. And those are things that you can repeat. You can’t just repeat scoring a goal but you can repeat like whatever hockey stick skills you might have, or like whatever type of, you know, sprinting workout you need to do, and then how that actually plays out in the game.

Brad Dempsey 43:07
Yeah, because it’s so important. You say hockey is so important that if you are if you have routinely and had done the repetitions of certain skills, you may not be the one that scores the goal. There may be a rebound where your teammates scores go up, but you made an impact because you were attacking and attacking and attacking the you might have been attacking so much that they put two defenders on you and three of your other teammates scored. Because you put those repetitions in a practice. You might not be the one that scored but you are the you are the person that makes it happen. And at the highest level. That’s what you see happen in sports.

Sonya Looney 43:44
How do you help people with performance anxiety?

Brad Dempsey 43:47
Oh, that’s a great question. It one, it just goes back to helping them understand themselves. They have to understand themselves what what are their triggers? Like what overwhelms them? Is it because they have too much on their mind? Is it because they’re getting yelled at by a coach is because there’s too much pressure from their parents is because there’s they’re putting too much pressure on themselves, which really unfolding the situations that they’re going through what’s happening to them. What’s happened to them in the past, and this Sanyo with what we do, this is where our relationship with the mental health field comes into play. Because as a coach, if I uncover something that’s there, that’s when I work with the parents to make sure I think 14% of the athletes, young athletes we’ve worked with, we’ve referred to getting some extra mental health care some therapy because we don’t do that. That’s not what we do. But that partnership is so important. So I really uncovering what is overwhelming them what’s causing that anxiety. My daughter, my middle daughter has she’s and she’s a phenomenal athlete. Has performance anxiety, like her stomach starts to hurt before games and, and she’s put a lot a lot of work into it. She still has to battle it. She works with one of our coaches, and just uncovering what is it? What causes it? And what are the strategies and skills that you can use that work for you. And it’s taken a while for her to find what works for her. But that’s where the reward comes in, when you when you figure it when you figure it out. And a lot of times when you think you figure it out, it’s something else comes into play. But that’s, that’s life, you have to constantly be working on yourself. And helping our athletes understand that helping people in general understand that is it’s a challenge.

Sonya Looney 45:46
As a coach, like what are those tools like say things that your daughter would be doing?

Brad Dempsey 45:52
Well, one is visualization, the key right visualization, breathing, we have a journaling process that we use, we call it prepare, plan, and then go execute and then reflect and watch and learn. So my daughter’s are both athletes, they journal before and after every training session. And before and after every competition. They now even on their own, have they journal on their daily, their daily stuff in preparation,

Sonya Looney 46:25
what are they journaling about? Because a lot of people think I should journal but they don’t know what to journal about.

Brad Dempsey 46:30
Yeah, that’s a great question. So the preparation part, and we we just have guided questions. So what’s your mood? You know, a lot of when we first start out with someone in their preparation piece, let’s just say, Son, you’re going to practice tonight. And you’re you’re just doing a journal entry that we teach them, hey, just use 30 seconds, a minute, two minutes, but you say you’re preparing. Okay, you’re preparing. So on a level on a scale of one to 1010 being the highest one being lowest, how was your day? How was your day to day? My day was seven. Okay, well, why was your day to seven? What? What went well, for you today? What were some challenges you face today. So now before they go to practice, they’re getting out of their mind on paper, what their day was like, what maybe caused them or to have a good day or a bad day or whatever, and just a little reflection, and now they go make a plan. And their plan may be to to be able to overcome, you know, so now they’re actually intentionally thinking about what they’re trying to do at practice, rather than just showing up and doing what the coach says, Hey, I really need to be working on my Puck skills, or I really need to be working on on my speed or whatever it may be. Or, you know, today I had a rough day, I just wanted to go focus on having fun, and not letting my mental weight and that’d be a big win for me. And so on the way home from practice, and then they go execute on the way home from practice on a scale from one to 10. Reflecting How did you do with your plan? How did you do? You know, we have we have, you know, for each number, we have an identification. But how did you do? One of my coaches use a scale from one to three, especially with our youngest athletes. How did you do? How do you feel like you did and not to judge yourself? right not to critique yourself, but to but to learn, to learn about yourself to learn about your coaches to learn about your teammates. And then the next question is, what did you learn? Did you learn something at practice? You learned something about yourself? Did you learn something about a teammate? Did you learn a new concept? Did you learn something from a coach? And it could be something that you liked or you didn’t like? So we kind of break down that process and we get we get them journaling? So very much guided? I would say.

Sonya Looney 48:53
Is your journaling practice similar to that?

Brad Dempsey 48:57
Yes, very much so. So like I got, I haven’t taken any notes talking to you. But I got this and then I got my daily journal. We are constantly in what 4000 thoughts or something a day. I’m not a scientist or mathematician, but we’re constantly thinking. And a lot of our thoughts are really good thoughts. If you can get those on paper, or a lot of things that you want to be doing me and I really need to think Sonya for having me on on our podcast. And I write that down and I take the time to send Sonya, thank you for having me on our podcast. That’s a good thing. I mean, that’s just a really good thing to do. But a lot of people, they’re moving so fast, all the time. That they don’t take the time to do the little things that they want to do. Most people a lot of good people would think about sending a thank you note, but they let it fly by and then it just kind of buries themselves inside and gets out. about one thing after another after another that you’re wishing you would have done. What does that bring? It brings guilt,

Sonya Looney 50:06
and more mental weight,

Brad Dempsey 50:09
and more mental weight. And so for me, one of the biggest strategies people can use is, how can I slow things down? There’s my kid have to be in 500 different activities and sports. Do they really need that? Was my kid really actually like, well, what am I forcing them to do versus allowing them to, to excel and you know, that is adult you have to have time to? When’s your downtime as a parent? Right? When when you get your time?

Sonya Looney 50:43
Well, when I ride my bike is when I get my time, and then after the kids go to bed, which is why it’s important for them to have their their bedtime.

Brad Dempsey 50:52
100%. Yeah. Everybody’s got to figure out what works for them. And understand that it changes it with seasons, trial and error. Yes, very much. So I mean, a lot of the quick fixes we’re looking for in life, guess what those are? Trial and error. And you’re gonna get a lot of trial and a lot of error for sure.

Sonya Looney 51:14
than something else. Like what you just said, slowing things down, like this is something that I’m actively working on. I did an assessment of myself just about, you know, happiness and stress. And I noticed that I feel the most stressed when I’m rushing, and well, what contributes to rushing, having too many things on my plate, then there’s an energy around, like when you are living within that, that purpose of all these things that you love to do, and oh, I want to help as many people as possible, then you end up saying yes to too many things or wanting to be doing too many things. And then you’re not slowing things down at all, you’re adding more and more and more things to your plate, which actually can end up depleting you. So for you and your business, how do you set a boundary around saying no.

Brad Dempsey 51:59
I learned the hard way, I used to be an athletic director at a very prominent High School in Missouri, where we achieved at a high level and there was very high expectations. And I tried to be anything and everything all the time for everybody. And I left depleted and burn out. One, I built a million relationships that will last a lifetime, which is amazing. But the confidence that I lost and how I left and all the things were really just a culmination of me, going downhill on a mountain bike and having a really bad crash. Because I lost, I lost control. I lost control over myself, and what I needed to be doing to be the best version of myself, and delegating and working with others and using teams and whatnot. And so when we talk about how we’re building out mindset sports, we we believe it’s like you’re not going to see mindset sports on Facebook as a, as a paid ad, or Instagram as a paid ad or whatever. We we wholeheartedly believe and have an integrity. I’m not saying that paid ads are bad, I’m just saying we wholeheartedly believe and slow organic growth, we want to make sure that we are our vision of our company is to normalize mindset coaching, and to where to where it’s something that happens all over the place, it’s normal, and it’s productive. And so for us to do that, we have to make sure that we are very intentional and focused on the right things. And that’s really hard, because there’s a lot of different avenues and areas that we can go after. And we don’t have the answers to where, to how it’s going to happen or what’s going to come next. And so, we we just try to be a team and we try to work towards being our best and in hopes that the opportunities that need to present themselves for us will allow us to learn more, to get better to provide value to the to those that hire us and and just allow us to continually organically grow to becoming something that one sets a standard in the industry and to makes other companies pop up like ours because we can’t do everything and be everything for everybody. So we just we really want and believe that mindset coaching not just for athletes, but just just for everybody. Is is mission critical. It’s mission critical for people to have mentors in their life. It’s mission critical for people to have have others in their life that are helping empower them to see in themselves what they don’t see. To to grow. Oh, and to learn, so that maybe they can avoid some of the mental health or mental illness challenges. So being very proactive or maybe learn about themselves early on before they have to go through some sort of Hell and Back in order to learn the hard way. Some things aren’t preventative. But why not be preventative? Why not be proactive when it comes to mentally, personally, physically, spiritually, taking care of yourself?

Sonya Looney 55:35
Well, I think that’s such a great place to wrap it up. And I know you and I are very passionate about this stuff and could talk about it for a very long time. So where can people find you if people have youth athletes that are interested in working with you like, what’s the best way to do that?

Brad Dempsey 55:50
The best way one, we have Facebook and LinkedIn pages, mindset sports, you can you can check those pages out. We’re on live every Saturday morning, we’re not trying to sell anything, we’re just trying to provide value in conversations. You can go back and watch those videos are about 30 minutes long piece. We try to drop some content each week just simple stuff. That’s written by one of our coaches again, 35 years in the military 15 years as a colonel and then my mindset sports dot life WWW dot mindset sports dot life. And then we’re in the process we believe community is the answer. For for people, people need positive community. So www dot mindset sports community dot life is a community that we’re building. We have spaces for athletes and parents right now. And we’re working on adding spaces for college athletes, referees coaches, we’re really trying to build networks for people to be able to go have a mindset space where they can be themselves learn and grow.

Sonya Looney 56:59
Yeah, and I see that I see that triangle again, with parents, coaches and athletes in this community page on your website.

Brad Dempsey 57:05
Yeah, yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s what we call mission critical. It’s it’s important that a triangle is a shape of higher perspective. It’s it’s a it’s an accountability piece. It’s a place where we can all work together and be a team. Well, thanks

Sonya Looney 57:23
so much for coming on the show. And as always, it was great to talk to you and I’m really looking forward to people hearing this episode.

Brad Dempsey 57:29
Thank you so much, Sonya.

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