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Southlake Style

The five P's of Peak Performance and Mental Toughness

Feb 20, 2015 03:01PM ● By Dia

With Brian Cain

Training hard on the field and in the gym will only get you so far. To thrive in today’s highly competitive sporting world you have got to be prepared, not just physically, but mentally. To be your best, you must also train your brain to be mentally tough.

But what is mental toughness? According to Southlake’s newest Peak Performance Coach Brian Cain, there isn’t a universal answer to this question. However, during his 10 years of working with top high school, college and professional athletes he has trained some of the best, most-consistent and mentally tough competitors around. Those special athletes succeed on and off the field each and every day by living what he calls, “the five Ps of peak performance and mental toughness.”

Brian took time away from his training and his well-attended seminars on mental conditioning to share a simple framework for athletes of all ages and ability levels to develop their mental toughness.


Great athletes stay in the moment. They plan their days the night before and wake up on a mission to maximize the day. These high-performing athletes don’t spend time—they invest time through setting and meeting specific daily goals and weekly missions. Ultimately, they don’t count the days; they make each day count, as they progress along their plan toward a successful future.


Believe it or not, the most successful and mentally tough athletes win more by not thinking about winning at all. They fully understand that winning is a process that requires strict focus on fundamentals. Instead of paying attention to the scoreboard, they redirect their time, energy and attention to what they can control—and let go of what they cant. A University of Alabama athlete once said to me, “My goal must be in my control, because focusing on whatI can’t control is a total waste of my time and life.”


Your chosen sport is supposed to be tough.Athletics, at times, can be a roller coaster of emotions. One day could bring on a record-setting performance—the next, record-setting futility. Mental toughness requires looking at every performance, no matter the outcome, as a learning experience from which you can get better. Just like winning, losing can also bring positive feedback—in life, there are winners and there are learners! Each day, you have the choice to be a winner who never stops learning.


Do you think about practice and training as something you “have to” or “want to” do? Keeping the right perspective on training is critical to your success in athletics. Champions understand hard work is essential to constant improvement. They also realize a “want to” mindset is necessary when it comes to hard work. Working hard is definitely within your control each and every day— and if your coaches have to constantly remind you to work hard, then it may be time to consider a new outlet for your talents. Keep your attitude, effort, energy and other controllable aspects of your performance in a place of “want to,” never “have to.”


Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said it best, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.” Preparation routines are an essential part of consistent high-level performance. Through my work with four Ultimate Fighting Championship world champions, Olympic medalists, NCAA national champions and Texas state champions, I have observed the three steps that the “best of the best” use to prepare for competition.


1. Change your clothes, change your mentality: When you change from your street clothes, you leave the stress of school, the issues with your relationships and drama of being a teenage athlete behind. Release yourself from the pressures of student life, and prepare yourself for the pleasures of being an athlete by establishing a mentally cleansing locker-room routine.

2. Put down the phone: An athletes mind needs to focus on the task at hand, and that’s impossible if the other hand is holding a phone.

3. Relax, breathe and visualize success: Taking two to three minutes to find a quiet place to close your eyes and focus. Relax, breathe and visualize a performance that will give you the confidence you need to dominate the day.

Brian Cain is a high-performance sport psychologist and peak-performance coach who works with parents, coaches and athletes on building mental toughness and maximizing the elite human performance mindset. Cain’s client list includes SEC schools and prestigious universities throughout the country, Team USA Baseball, the Washington Nationals and individual athletes in the MLB, NFL, NHL and UFC. Cain lives in Southlake and works one-on-one with high-school athletes in the DFW area. For more information visit