May 31, 2023
A Mental Performance Consultant turned out to be more helpful than I had ever expected, and inspired me to talk about how important it is to navigate life with some help.
My brain was the forgotten piece of a puzzle I had started working on in 2008. All through my teens and early twenties I had learned about leadership, work ethic, and sacrifice while riding the rollercoaster of athletic successes and disappointments. It wasn’t until roughly 2018 that I began to consider working on my brain with the same dedication I had for my body in the pursuit of finding my athletic potential.
Chantale Lussier was a Mental Performance Consultant (MPC) in Ottawa I had heard about through her work with Carleton University’s Women’s Rugby Team. I had followed her online for a few years while attending school there, kept an eye on the things she was talking about, and it wasn’t until I was halfway through my first season in the CFL that I decided I should reach out to her. I had been playing for three months and had made some money off a sport I had been giving my life to since grade eight. I thought that maybe it was time to explore some avenues of improving my game and invest some money back into myself!
My first impression was absolute shock at my own ignorance. I had no clue as to what the profession encompassed. I had always assumed that there would be exercises on being game day ready, how to focus my brain, and how I could perform better under pressure, but this was only the tip of the iceberg, and these were all things that I felt I was pretty good at. What I didn’t know was the extent to which an MPC could help me navigate the full picture of what being a pro athlete was.
Throughout a handful of conversations, I began to understand things that were directly or indirectly affecting me in sport. The direct ones were obvious and not hard to identify. They were clear because they were often related to specific situations I found myself in on the football field. For example, I had a detrimental lack of confidence in one-on-ones during football practice. This was an odd one to navigate because I was somehow free of doubt in games and the confidence was just there, unquestioningly strong, and present in the back of my mind. However, during practice I was ready to puke at the call out of “DBs and Receivers, one-on-ones!”. Figure that one out. (Which we did, but it seems counterintuitive even now.)
Through conversation we also began to identify some things that originally felt unrelated but were absolutely affecting my performance on the field and ice. It can be hard sometimes to feel fully understood by my usual support system of friends and family. For example, in February 2022 I brought two checked bags of personal items and bobsleigh gear with me to Beijing. Upon arrival I discovered a third bag of friend’s and family’s kind-hearted expectations for me and my Olympic Games! Having someone to help me navigate the pressure, the stress, the feelings, the let downs, the excitement, and the mental holes I can spiral down is invaluable. When the stakes of pro sport feel so high, the ups and downs of life in parallel with that tend to feed on that heightened state. Often my sessions become a discussion about the built up stress and pressure of navigating life while trying to pursue school, bobsleigh, and football.
I like to think of my support system as Batman’s Toolbelt. I have friends, family, and a partner on there to provide support, I have speed and strength coaches across the country that I can lean on at any point, I have a list of physios, athletic therapists, and massage therapists I know I can go to for help, and now I have a Mental Performance Consultant who can help me understand and navigate all that comes with pursuing a career in professional sport.
It should also be known that the fine folks at Libra are supporting me and my forgotten puzzle piece. It is likely that if you are reading this you already know of the wonderful things Libra does for their community, so you can add this to the list of things that make them special. They are generously supporting me with my mental performance sessions, looking after my noggin as I continue on through life in sport.
Here are some words from Chantale, my Mental Performance Consultant:
“Mental skills training is a systematic approach to training the mind in order to enhance performance. They’re a key factor in achieving consistent, sustainable success. Mental skills accelerate development, activate talent, and empower performers in numerous ways. Mental skills training is an approach that deep dives into the human factors of performance including the cognitive, emotional, and embodied skills involved in peak performance” (Chantale Lussier, PhD., MPC)
A Mental Performance Consultant (MPC) works with their clients to improve and cultivate optimal performance through mental skills training as well as to proactively maintain and improve mental wellness. In contrast, a psychologist and/or psychiatrist is predominantly trained to diagnose and treat mental illness, while counsellors or psychotherapists are trained to support people through non-sport / performance related concerns (couples or family counselling, grief and trauma.)
It is important we all continue exploring this world that is so new to so many, and give ourselves the help we need when needed.
If inclined, check out Chantale’s site for more info: www.chantalelussier.com
And keep an eye on me and Libra as I prepare for the upcoming CFL season and the 2026 Olympics in Italy!
February 14, 2024
January 03, 2024