Master Your Mental Game with Pro Sports Psychologist Justin Su’a

We’re all seeking an edge in our running to reach new levels of ability. Today we’re exploring powerful ways to help you train your mind – and reach the final frontiers of your performance.

mental training

Mental fitness is much like physical fitness – it can be trained, practiced, and improved.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of it in virtually any aspect of your life. That’s why we dedicated an entire year to mastering your mindset!

And why we also have a free email series devoted to mental skills for runners.

When we seek to improve something, we often focus on the massive shifts and sexy outcomes. It’s fun to envision the race win or the promotion, but we are bound to have setbacks.

How we deal with those failures is vital to our longterm success with any pursuit. It’s through learning from each experience, good or bad, that we are able to gradually adjust and get better.

This growth mindset is what allows for incremental improvements. And in the words of a Tanzanian proverb:

Little by little, a little becomes a lot.

In today’s episode, we are joined by Justin Su’a to help us understand how impactful our mindsets are. Justin is a Mental Performance Coach working with the military and elite athletes all over the world to help them build mental toughness and create a culture of excellence.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Justin Su’a (@justinsua) on

Justin Su’a Working with the Pros

Justin is currently the Mental Performance and Leadership Coach with the Tampa Bay Rays, a major league baseball team. Prior to that, he worked for the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Browns. He works with both coaches and players to improve the overall performance of their organizations.

Justin holds a Master of Science degree in Sport and Performance Psychology, which he pursued after studying religious education. This turned out to be a big leap and a great decision for Justin.

He has developed a framework for improving performance and gives us a glimpse of how he works with a variety of his clients.

Developing a Culture of Excellence

Prior to performing at our best, we have to understand what that means at its core.

Justin Su’a’s approach to this is to talk with teams of athletes, soldiers, and corporations about what their “culture of excellence” is. We dive deep into what that means, how to build it, and how to identify a personal standard of excellence.

Justin helps us in framing the right questions to ask such as:

  • What do I stand for?
  • Where am I going?
  • What do I want to be the best at?
  • How do I define “excellence”?

Understanding these about yourself or your team help to guide the process for accomplishing big goals.

Justin Su’a on Improving Your Mindset

This conversation is all about mastering your mental game.

We discuss many aspects of goal setting and how individualized it really should be. Justin offers a technique to help us set and achieve our goals, using the GWOP method: setting goals, understanding your why, identifying obstacles, and creating a plan to overcome them.

Justin highlights why failure, or more specifically, your approach to failure is so important to improve your performance. And he shares some insightful stories from the field to help us apply this.

We also address questions such as:

  • What happens when you focus on results versus the process?
  • Is it possible to “teach an old dog new tricks”?
  • Should you tinker with your training plans to improve faster?
  • Does goal setting work for everyone?

I hope you find this conversation filled with useful suggestions and ideas on how you, too, can improve your mental game.

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunesSpotifyStitcher, iHeartRadio, or Google Play.

Show Links & Resources:

Thank You Naked Nutrition

Naked Nutrition

I want to thank Naked Nutrition for joining as our newest podcast sponsor. They make dietary supplements with the purest ingredients with no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors – and everything is made in the USA.

I’ve been taking their Vanilla Whey Protein Powder for several weeks now and can confidently say that it’s the best protein powder I’ve ever had: it tastes great and I know I’m not ingesting what I don’t need. I’ve used a lot of different protein powders over the years and this is definitely my favorite.

I love that this protein powder has only 3 ingredients and the whey is sourced from grass fed cows’ milk. For those looking for a plant-based option, Naked Nutrition has vegan protein powders as well.

I’m also getting a shipment of their Naked Greens powder soon. I’ll tell you about it after I test it out.

Check out all their products and let me know what you think once you try them out!

Get Stronger & Run Healthy

Join our free course to help you better prevent injuries, develop runner-specific strength, and avoid the big mistakes that get runners hurt