Changing the Game: Susan Kovacs


Hi Guys! Sorry the blog took another mini vacay as I was away last week with my other love- Hockey Canada! I had a wonderful time at the Senior Women’s Camp and can’t wait to be back on the road with them at the beginning of November for the Four Nations Cup. One of the things I have learned in working with athletes is the importance of mental performance training. Athletes (especially at the elite level) deal with intense pressures, high stress and performance anxiety. The mind body connection is REAL so a mental performance coach is critical to ensure that an athlete can cope with these stressors in order to perform at their very best! Today, I am interviewing Susan Kovacs, a local London, Ontario athletic performance coach! She has been published in Chatelaine magazine and is co-author of the best selling book, Dreaming BIG Being BOLD. She also is host on the “The Athletes’ Game Changer Podcast- which you can listen to here (maybe take a peak at Episode 7!)

Why were you drawn into this field? I have always loved sports and was intrigued with what it took for people to become high performers. As a child, I remember spending hours watching “Wide World Of Sports” and especially being glued to the set when the Hawaii Ironman competitions were on. Having gone from a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in my 20’s to training for and completing a triathlon in my 50’s, I learned how powerful our mindset is in our ability to perform. This experience sparked my goal to help athlete’s overcome whatever obstacles may be holding them back. My favourite mantra that I still use to this day when I’m training is, my body achieves what my mind believes.

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What is something you wish everyone knew about themselves? I’ve actually got 2, if that’s okay? First, the negative stories we tell ourselves over and over in our heads are a bunch of BS. Just because we think something does not mean it’s true! Also, we need to believe that we are all truly unlimited in our potential and capable of achieving great things. 

What tends to be the issues that athletes struggle with?

This is a great question and one I love it because it shows athletes that they’re not alone. Some of the challenges for athletes from a performance standpoint can include things like a lack of confidence, performance anxiety, transferring what works in practice to game situations, dealing with distractions, dealing with adversity, and how to handle emotions. There is no cookie cutter approach that works for all athletes and the key is for the athlete to create a formula that works for them. This includes uncovering those factors that may detract from their ability to perform to their potential. For instance, there could be social, mental, emotional or spiritual influences at play. The key is to create a game plan in order for the athlete to perform to their full potential. 

What does a session look like with you?


Generally, one on one sessions are done either in person, via Zoom video or on the phone, depending on geography and the athlete’s preference. Prior to any call, the athlete receives a short video to give them a sense of what to expect so that they feel at ease when we get started and an assessment which looks at their perceptions, how they’re showing up under regular circumstances. Our initial session could last anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours as this is when we do a deep dive into what their goals are and what may be getting in the way of them achieving them. My goal is not to provide information, rather it’s to create transformation.

Some athletes have had major gains from one phone call. For example, one athlete had not been able to beat her PB for 18 months and then did so after one conversation. In addition, there’s an amazing app (Apple & Android) that the athlete can use prior to a competition/game to let them know what may influence their performance at that particular time and what they can do right there to shift things. Coaching is something that can be difficult to describe and better when it’s experienced. That’s why I’m more than happy to set aside my fee for any of the readers who would like to schedule a call!

A great lesson my coach taught me was to never say yes on the spot, always say “I’ll think about it and get back to you.
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Name 3 people you wish to have on your podcast (ANYONE!)

I have been incredibly lucky as all of my guests so far have been amazing! Going forward, I’d have to say: Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir - They are incredible athletes who also embody the essence of good sportsmanship, grace & humility. Silken Lauman - I remember watching her win the Olympic Bronze Medal in Barcelona in rowing just 10 weeks after having a horrific rowing accident. I am amazed at her determination, perseverance and ability to overcome adversity. Dave Asprey (Bulletproof) - Dave bio hacks all things health and is on top of the latest information to help us perform better.  

How have you failed in the past year and what did you learn from it?


One of my failures in the past year was committing to too many projects and goals and then as can often happen, life gets in the way. Both of my parents became ill and passed away within 10 months of each other. Spending time with them became a huge priority for me and I was burning the candle at both ends. I had totally over committed myself to others and then also added several personal goals on top of that. One of the biggest lessons learned was that when looking at projects and commitments with others, taking time to think about whether this really is something that I want to commit my time to is critical. I usually jump to yes right away. A great lesson my coach taught me was to never say yes on the spot, always say “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” Also, there is no shame in asking for help. I used to think that I had to handle anything that life threw at me. Being flexible & consistent are now a bigger part of how I show up, for myself as well as others.

Thank you so much for sharing Susan! If you want to find out more or connect with Susan check out her website or find her on Instagram @athletesgamechanger. Listen to The Athletes Game Changer Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or TuneIn

Emma JackComment