Utah coach helps Olympic athletes develop mental toughness

Apr 26, 2024, 1:53 PM | Updated: 7:18 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Olympic athletes possess more than physical strength, and KSL TV’s Tamara Vaifanua spoke to a Utah coach who helps athletes develop mental toughness.

Riley Jensen is a former Utah State University quarterback turned mental performance coach.

In his new book, “Pure Unadulterated Guts,” he lays out winning strategies anyone can start using today.

Fans can’t wait to cheer on Team USA’s elite Olympic athletes at the Paris Olympics.

“Typically, when you get to the Olympics, the mental game can be a tiebreaker,” Jensen said.

He knows all about competition and the pressure to perform at a high level, and he was the mental performance coach in 2018 for the U.S. Paralympic archery team.

“Some of them have imposter syndrome and they’re in the Olympics,” Jensen said.

He sees it on every level — from professional soccer players he’s coached — to college and high school student-athletes.

“Things like worrying about sports anxiety or addressing sport anxiety can be a big deal,” he said.

Jensen helps athletes manage anxiety by focusing on breathing and developing positive self-talk.

“Are you being a good teammate to yourself?”

He stresses the importance of taking care of their mental health and blocking out negativity on social media.

“It’s toxic. I try to help them remember it’s not the critic who counts, it’s the man in the arena type of thing,” Jensen said.

In his book, “Pure Unadulterated Guts,” Riley focuses on building confidence. He challenges people to step out of their comfort zone for 60 seconds a day.

“I call it 60 seconds a day of ‘pug’ — 60 seconds a day of pure unadulterated guts.”

Riley says these are proven habits that can build mental toughness.

“I have the coolest job in the world,” he said. “I get to help people chase their dreams and figure out pathways to get to their dreams.”

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Utah coach helps Olympic athletes develop mental toughness