Ep 71: Unlocking Mental Performance and Toughness with Kevin Smith
On the show today, I have Kevin Smith, a 13-year special operator in a special operations unit and former Division 1 swimmer. At a young age, Kevin was always interested in learning about sports physiology and psychology, and he plans to dive into the mental performance world once he is out of the military to pursue a career in cognitive neuroscience.
In today’s discussion, we dig past the surface level of what true mental toughness and performance is by discussing the tactics and strategies that largely impact the mind. Kevin explains how the brain in constantly rewiring itself, which all relates back to controlling how we think. The conversation then leads into how important it is to take brain breaks during the day and wind down at night in order to take care of your foundation. We introduce the idea that you really can do more than you think you can do, and we go into different tactics to get past the mind barriers holding you back. Kevin shares the difference between confidence and belief by stating confidence is thinking you can do something, while belief is knowing you can do it.
We then do a deep dive into the many exercises we can do to execute mental toughness. In particular, we talk about framing the way you look at certain situations by intentionally removing everything except for the core aspect taking place. The reframing needs to follow up with using your inner monologue to get through whatever obstacle it may be. Using this tactic in training is huge and can be that extra deep breath you need to push through. We also discuss how you can use teamwork in your reframing and self-talk; knowing you're not experiencing it alone can help make the suffering feel less awful.
Listen in as Kevin explains two mental toughness strategies: chunking – breaking up tasks into simple and digestible pieces, whether it be one rep at a time, one set at a time or taking breaks on a long hike. Arousal control – bringing your body into more of a balance through breathing and HRV.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
[03:05] An introduction to Kevin Smith
[05:44] Correlation between physical performance and mental toughness
[07:00] Understanding how to control the way we think
[19:05] Mind tactics to do more than you think you can do