The Mental Training Paradox


In sport, we spend hours + hours training our physical bodies in an attempt to perfect our craft. We spend years honing the technical; years improving our strength, power and physical agility; and years nourishing our bodies. Rest + recovery are seen as an essential piece of the performance puzzle.

And we don’t do it alone.

We surround ourselves with coaches and support staff to help us optimize our physical bodies.

And yet,

when it comes to training + optimizing our mind,

it’s a whole different landscape.

When you ask coaches, parents + athletes if the mind plays a role in sports performance, the overwhelming majority (read: all) say yes, of course.

When you ask them if they spend time explicitly training their minds, the overwhelming majority say no.

Some do.

Some coaches use militaristic-style coaching tactics. Some coaches sling shame. Some scream and shout as a way to ‘train the mind.’

Do these strategies work?

It depends on how you define ‘work’ - and the cost you’re willing to pay for ‘success.’

We know that shame is corrosive and toxic long term. We know that it’s intimately woven with self-harm, suicide, perfectionism, mood disorders, anxiety and depression.

There are others ways of training the mind that don’t come with such a high cost - Mindful Sports Performance Enhancement is just one example.

{why are we so resistant?}

Cultivating greatness doesn’t have to come with the price tag of our mental health.

It’s not an either / or thing.

It’s time for us to challenge the underlying cultural belief that we can’t achieve greatness without sacrificing our mental health.

And I don’t believe this kind of support has to come from sport specific coaches.

I think we’re actually missing a fundamental pillar of support - one that would contribute to the development of the whole athlete, without adding to the already full plate of coaches.

And, this isn't *just* about athletic performance.

This is about the quality of our lives as whole humans.

I loved how this graphic by Holistically Grace captures the paradox:


The health and fitness industry is a $30 billion dollar industry in the U.S. - and it’s growing. (Forbes, 2018)

We go to the doctor when we are physically ill.

And yet, there are so many of us who subscribe to the belief that we should be able to boss our way through when our mental health is suffering. Just push through. Just try harder.

So many of us are still so afraid to admit we need help - too afraid of being found out. Too afraid of being judged.

So many of us are walking around with an invisible load, one we’ve learned how to hide so well.

What if we stopped hiding?

What if we gave ourselves permission to approach our mental and emotional health with the same time and attention and normalcy we do our physical health?

Because the thing about mental health - it isn't an 'issue' reserved for those of us affected by mental illness. It's a human issue.

And in honor of #mentalhealthawarenessmonth, I’m curious to know -

How are you nourishing the health + growth of your mind?

One of my coaches / mentors likes to say, there’s a reason we don’t perform our own brain surgery.


We can all benefit from having coaches + mentors + therapists + a tribe that holds space for us to explore, expand and evolve. If you’re ready to step into this space, I’d love to help support your growth.

Because, we’re stronger together.

There are a few ways to work with me: 1:1 private coaching, in-person workshops / retreats, membership into my Rise Free Academy and through my brand new online course on Strengthening Our Emotional Agility (group opening soon!).


Samantha Arsenault Livingstone is an Olympic Gold Medalist, high-performance coach and consultant, transformational speaker, educator and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Livingstone High Performance, LLC., the Rise Free Academy and the online course, Strengthening Our Emotional Agility — inspiring, empowering and equipping athletes, coaches and female leaders with the skills they need to become more mindful, courageous, resilient leaders.

In addition to private and group coaching, Samantha consults with teams and organizations on athlete wellness, Mindful Sport Performance Enhancement (MSPE), leadership, strategic planning, rising skills and developing high-performance cultures. 

A mama of heart warrior and mama of twins, Samantha and her husband, Rob, live in the Berkshires with their four girls. To learn more about her offerings, go over to