Sean McCann, Senior Sport Psychologist for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), has traveled to the last 12 Olympics to work with the nation’s best athletes. In his work for the USOC, he works directly with teams and coaches, from mental skills seminars and workshops about Olympic pressure, to individual sessions with athletes.

In this interview, he talks about how the best mentally prepare for a competition that only happens every four years. Sean describes that one key factor is to overbuild mental skills so that the athlete can perform when the conditions are not perfect. He suggests to focus on behavior and to ask: 1) What does it mean to do my job well? and 2) What does it look like to not do my job well?

Dr. McCann says that mental skills are the bedrock to performance which athletes use to self-regulate themselves, but there is an extra layer. This extra layer is the 3-step process: 1) Get your questions answered (i.e., logistics, strategy, doubts, etc.), 2) Find a focus of 3-4 things that are process focused (“To perform well, I will…”) and 3) Perform with certainty.

You can reach Sean @sportpsychone and at

[tweet_dis2]Everyone has the capacity for brilliance. @sportpsychone via @Mentally_Strong[/tweet_dis2]

[tweet_dis2]Consistency of excellence is the key to great Olympic performances. @sportpsychone via @Mentally_Strong[/tweet_dis2]

[tweet_dis2]A key to consistent performance: stay in control on the edge of out of control. @sportpsychone via @Mentally_Strong[/tweet_dis2]

[tweet_dis2]Many more athletes fail then they do succeed. Failure can be our best teacher. @sportpsychone via @Mentally_Strong[/tweet_dis2]

[tweet_dis2] We must recognize when things get off track before they become off track. @sportpsychone via @Mentally_Strong[/tweet_dis2]

[tweet_dis2] Everyone who has consistent success has high self-awareness.Record things down to develop higher self-awareness. @sportpsychone via @Mentally_Strong[/tweet_dis2]