Interview with Mental Training Coach Chris Covert
Updated: Sep 5, 2019
Bio:Chris Covert is the founder and CEO of Peak Performance Consulting and has spent 15 years working with elite level athletes and organizations in the fields of coaching, leadership, organization, motivation, and mental/physical training.
A graduate of California State University, Fullerton and a student of Ken Ravizza, Covert has worked with athletes in high school, the NCAA (baseball, softball, football, soccer, cross country, and track & field), MLB, PGA, and NFL. As a former Head Coach at the NCAA level, he has worked with over 175 First Team All-Americans and over 250 All-Conference Athletes, along with being named a 9x Conference and Regional Coach of the Year. Covert obtained a Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University.
Athletes that Covert hasworked with have gone on to win both team and individual high school State Championships, NCAA Championships, Team & Individual Conference Championships, competed at the Olympic Trials, and won NFL and MLB World Championships.
***anyfollow up questions were asked over the phone. Those answers are marked and are not direct quotes from Chris Covert***
· What is the most common theme you have seen working with your athletes and teams?
- I believe that every level has unique challenges. From pros to college to high school, culture really dictates what themes exist throughout the club. However, there are two things that all bad teams have and two things all good teams have that I frequently see:
o On bad teams, you don’t see anyone make sacrifices to get better, and that includes the coaching staff. They are content with who they are and aren’t willing to be honest with themselves and others in order to succeed. Secondly, ego rules the team. Whether it’s the ego of an overbearing coach or athlete, teams that fail have egos that get in the way and destroy the environment.
o On good teams, there is a culture of selflessness. Everyone is trying not to only get themselves better, but also their teammates. Secondly, there is a leader who is there to lessen the stress of those around them. It could be the coach or the captain, but someone is there to play the calming, comforting, and confidence building role for the rest of his teammates or players.
· If you were working with a selfish player how would you go about showing someone that they are being selfish? (follow up)
o The most important thing is that a team buys into the unselfish culture. It has to be established in the culture. On an individual level there has to be relationship and willingness to communicate with that specific person you are trying to talk to. Some guys with big egos won’t listen. One way to target those guys is through other guys in the club. If everyone holds selfish players accountable, it becomes very hard to continue being selfish.
o Another strategy is to focus on the player’s strengths that aren’t detrimental to the team and amplify them. Figure out what they are doing that is helpful and then highlight those qualities and make those the center of how that player communicates and interacts with the team.
· What do you recommend for an athlete who is trying to improve their mental game but has not worked on it before?
- The first step is being honest with what your issues are. If you are scared to get hit by a pitch, admit it. If you are nervous to throw a specific pitch, just say so. Self-awareness goes a long way.
· What is the biggest mental difference you see between the successful athletes you work with compared to those who aren’t as successful?
- They are willing to put their ego away and admit their faults. Secondly, they understand the importance of working on their mental game routinely, that its just as important as any other training they do. Players who aren’t successful do the opposite.
· What is the single best thing a baseball player can do to improve their mental game?
- Play the game one pitch at a time. Don’t worry about what just happened 10 seconds ago or what could happen 10 seconds from now. Focus on the pitch you are about to face.
· How would someone go about training their ability to stay 100% in the moment? (follow up)
- Being personally responsible and accountable is everything. If you want to play one pitch at a time, you need to train one pitch at a time. During tee work, bullpens, side toss, or any type of practice, you have to focus on doing everything one pitch, play or rep at a time. There also needs to be an understanding between coaches and leaders and players that you are working one pitch at a time. Make that part of your team culture. That means allowing players to move on to the next rep immediately and not forcing a player to dwell on the past by confronting that failure in an unproductive