Behind the game-face is a game-brain.
This is the basic thesis of Dr. John Sullivan, a Clinical Sport Psychologist and the CEO of Clinical & Sport Consulting Services, where he helps prep the brains of elite performers in professional sports, military special forces, and more.
Dr. Sullivan, himself a former NCAA Division 1 athlete, consults on everything from nutrition (spoiler: he likes turkey and bananas) to sleep-cycle regulation with photobiomodulation to help the world’s greatest “jocks” use the three pounds of tissue for which they get little credit, but rely on for everything.
The brain, Sullivan reminds us, is responsible for everything from the electrical strength behind muscle contractions to the all-important split-second decisions as to which enemy on my field of play is the important one I should direct my attack towards? In games where milliseconds matter, time can’t be wasted on decisions that divert power production the wrong way.  “Football is a game of inches,” they say?
To Sullivan, it’s a game of nanometers. The width of a neuronal cleft — or that of your adversary’s.
“Hyper” is not what you’re after.
Being jacked-up and hyper-stimulated can feel like what you’re after in an athletic performance environment, but according to Sullivan that could just as well be Fool’s Gold as Olympic Gold. The real ideal is to master the proper cycling of high-arousal states with rest and recovery. Unless each piece of this cycle is functioning smoothly, none is.
One of the key pieces of training that Sullivan tries to instill in his clients is using biometric tracking technology to learn to “read their bodies” — eventually without biometrics. The technical tools are like the training wheels, a Rosetta stone for our own pulse, mood, posture — allowing us to judge our intuitions against something concrete, so that later we can self-assess when there’s no time to check your app’s read-out.
His approach is a nuanced balance of fast and slow, explosive force and deep restfulness.
Enjoy the interview, and remember: Always keep your head in the game. 🙂
Episode Introduction: Head in the Fight
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Introducing Dr. John Sullivan: Former D1 Athlete, Scientist, Doctor
Commonalities: Physical Performance vs Mental Performance
Key Factors In Flow Sports
Overlap of Fight/Flight and Flow States
Strategies for Maintaining High States of Arousal
Importance of The Gut Microbiome in Performance
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Balancing Demands of Health and Performance
Role of Chronobiology
Using Neuroscience To Finding Opportunities for Excellence
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Cryotherapy in Your Day-to-Day
Ruthless Listener Retention Gimmick: Surprising W.H.O. + U.N. Statement