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Athletic Teams

“Definitely the single most powerful thing we’ve ever done as a team and that I’ve done with any other team.” – C.J., Castleton lacrosse player

Athletic Team Mental Management

We are now booking summer pre-season programs—contact Jeff to get your team on the schedule.

In these days of Outcome Fever, where people judge themselves (and others) by their accomplishments and not who they are, young people feel like they are relatively powerless and on their own. This causes athletes to focus on their individual play and success in order to advance in their sport. The irony is that they are more likely to be successful, both individually and collectively, if they play as a team. But many players today don’t really know what that feels like because they have not learned some key emotional skills past generations learned by osmosis.

Common examples I see everywhere I go:

“So, you tend to hog the offense when we get behind. Are you consciously doing that? Why do you do that?”

“I was worried we were losing, so thought I better do something.”

“I don’t trust the other players to deliver, so I thought I should take the lead.”


“You seem to lose your confidence when you make a mistake.”

“I don’t totally believe in my abilities and can’t go with the flow.”


“You seem to have trouble opening up to and connecting with your teammates.”

“I’m worrying about them judging me.”

Today, global, societal factors both affect young people directly and, critically, cause parents to parent differently; the result is a generation of young people who lack skills around grit, confidence, coachability, selflessness, and the like. This is very difficult for many coaches, a lot of whom were very successful in athletics because they had those very skills in abundance. As a result, modern student athletes are ciphers to their old-school coaches, and players are unhappy because they are misunderstood. My program bridges that divide.

Thankfully, there is no reason we can’t teach players those skills. And, for many teams, the chances of improving the emotional, mental, and team dynamic variables are higher than improving physical skills, so a huge improvement can be seen on game day if you work on the mental game.

The good news is kids are still deeply motivated to feel better, play well, and get to the next level. My job is to convince them that if they work on their heads and their hearts, they give themselves a better chance to do so.

My goal is to empower and connect players, resulting in their taking increasing responsibility for their practice and their play—physically, mentally, individually, and collectively. I strive to create a reasonable facsimile of an old-school outfit.

And the players have a blast.

Here is a  blog post with more information about our approach.

How It Works

My program for athletic teams includes:

  • Working with individual players to teach them these emotional skills and to help them identify and work through mental/emotional obstacles that are negatively impacting their play.
  • Working with teams as a whole and functional subsets (such as lines, offensive/defensive units, infield/outfield, boats, etc.) to increase connection and communication.

There are four components to a team’s success, and I work with the coaching staff on all four together for every player and subset. The four:

  1. The physical skills: technique, conditioning, etc.
  2. Sport IQ: the ability to see the game, play cohesively with teammates, understand plays and tactics, etc.
  3. Mental/emotional skills: mental toughness, ability to stay calm under pressure, character,  leadership skills, etc.
  4. Team dynamics: communication, camaraderie, etc.

The coaches lead the way on the first two, and I handle the second two and weave the four together. I work with any thinking/character problems to resolve insecurities and also begin to handle deeper psychological blocks and damage. The staff and I reinforce that learning and growth mindset until it becomes part of the room and each players’ game.

The goal is always to get increasing input and participation from the players so they not only buy into the mental management program, they OWN it.

After two hours with Jeff, not a single boy in the room had checked the time. It was a transformative experience for us. Jeff has a gift in reading people and fundamentally wants to improve our outlook on our seasons, our relationships and our lives. Between the group and individual connections, all our emotions were in play, and he created a powerfully trusting and positive environment. He is a healer, a motivator, an entertainer and always an ally. – Chip Davis, Deerfield Academy boys’ lacrosse head coach.

My Program

My program is flexible and can be scaled up or down to meet any budget. However, to have a measurable, lasting impact on your team’s play, I need to have a regular presence over weeks or months.

When I work with a team, I use a variety of means to reach players:

  • In-person, both group and individual: I have an introductory program that explains how we got here—the societal causes of this problem and how they have affected young people and adults. I also provide an outline of how I “soften players in order to harden them,” and how connection and vulnerability actually make for tougher players, including examples of how this works in practice and on game day.
  • I also like to meet players for the first time in person.
  • I then can follow up with both individuals and groups with a mixture of in-person and virtual meetings, which can range from formal video calls or just texts.
  • I create video series for teams (and also have standard videos for teams trying to save money), of short (~2 minutes) videos that teach individual emotional skills so players can continue the work in a cost-effective way in between meetings with me.
  • “Help Desk” – I am available by phone and text to anyone who needs me.

Coaches are kept in the loop at all time:. Coaches participate in most group meetings. I discuss individual players with coaching staff, always with the goal of improving play in practice and on game day. I write a weekly report with progress and next steps.

My program can be scaled up or down. Please contact me to discuss your team’s or coaching staff’s particular requirements. I will be glad to discuss your goals and how we can achieve them together..

I am a senior on the softball team. I just wanted to take the time to email you and let you know that I really enjoyed the leadership workshop with Jeff Levin last night. Going into the meeting I figured it was going to be someone just talking at us giving us pointers on how to grow as a leader on an athletic team. However, Jeff made it so much more than that. The workshop was interactive and everyone participated. I feel like after only an hour-long meeting with him I have learned more about myself and how to grow into a better leader than I have in any other way. After talking to a few athletes who were also at one of the workshops last night, I have heard nothing but positive feedback.

I just wanted to take the time to personally let you know how much we enjoyed the workshop and how much we learned from it. – Emily M.