As every prospect begins on their quest for the NFL, the journey starts with training for the NFL Combine at the end of February. Whether it may be at their alma mater or a training facility such as EXOS, agents put their trust in strength coaches, physical therapists and nutritionists to adequately prepare their clients for the future that lies ahead. However, the most important piece of the puzzle that all agents need for their clients is Grant Parr.
Grant Parr, M.A. is an elite mental sports performance consultant. He is the CEO of Gameface Performance. Gameface Performance is a consulting firm that enhances mental skills for athletes and coaches to improve in a sport. In the sporting world, athletes and coaches contend with internal and external factors including performance anxiety, energy/stress management, confidence issues, attention/concentration control, conflict management, season/career ending injuries, etc. Gameface Performance focuses on a holistic, inside/out approach to enhance and improve with individuals’ mental approach to their game. Athletes today can’t afford to rely solely on their physical talents. Connecting the mind and body to produce an elite mindset to overcome internal and external distractions while performing is vital to success.
Grant began his life in sports at the age of seven. At a young age, Grant grew up playing all the sports that his community had to offer: baseball, basketball, soccer, football and track. His football career was his most successful, playing quarterback for 13 years all the way up to the Divison II ranks. Undergoing two hip replacements before the age of 40, his dream of playing in the NFL didn’t become a reality. However, the passion he had for the game of football has allowed Grant to make an impact in a different aspect for the sport he loves.
After receiving his master’s degree in sports psychology, Grant has become the guru for mental skills training for athletes. He has worked with athletes at all levels including professional, Olympians, collegiate, as well as, high school.
For sports agents, Grant’s goal is to provide as much value as possible to agents and their clients. “I have had numerous appointments with agents and my goal is for these agents to use me as a resource for their clients”, Parr said. “From the agent’s perspective, they want to put together the right resources and surround their clients with the right individuals to support their clients and their needs to achieve success.”
Grant coaches the mental aspect and mindset approach of an athlete. His objective is to put in a process, a repeatable process for an athlete, which will align with their thoughts and emotions so they are able to make the best decision for themselves and for their team. His goal is to prepare his clients for “the moment”.
Athletes tend to rely too much on their physical capabilities, ignoring the mental aspect of a given situation. For optimal performance, an athlete needs to be able to play in “the present”. Being able to visualize and understand their inner dialogue to engage in their thoughts and emotions is critical for preparation in high pressure situations.
His book, The Next One Up Mindset: How To Prepare For The Unknown, is a playbook to conquering the emotional hurricane of reaching your peak performance. In addition to his book, his podcast, 90% Mental, is a top sports podcast that promotes awareness around the mental performance within sport through conversations with legends such as Drew Bledsoe, Roger Craig and Dr. Jennifer Welter.
“When I think about all the mental skills training that I do with my clients, a lot of my efforts are put toward teaching and training these athletes how to deal with chaotic situations, like the NFL Combine. These 20-21 year olds are preparing to be evaluated on one of the biggest platforms in all of sport. How do these athletes get their thoughts and their emotions in control? How do they mentally respond especially when things may not be going as they had expected? How quick can they get back to their most confident self?”, Parr says. “I provide the mindfulness strategies, focus strategies, re-focus strategies and self-talk strategies so these athletes can access and utilize the strategies needed at a moment’s notice to perform at their highest potential.”
When you think about an athlete going from college into the professional ranks, that is all the athlete is thinking about daily. It is part of their identity. It is all they are focused on. One thing that Grant teaches is that although an athlete is devoted to playing a sport, that’s only what this athlete does. That is not who this individual is as a human being. “When I am working with athletes, I first and foremost allow them to understand who they are outside of their particular sport? The ability to immerse and commit themselves in their role as an athlete is imperative to success. It is even more important for these athletes to be able to turn that ‘athlete’ switch off and allow them to be who they are as a person”, says Parr.
Grant’s favorite motto, “your separation is your preparation” is essential to the mental training of an athlete. From playing quarterback in the Super Bowl to competing for that Olympic Gold Medal, the more prepared you are, the more confident you become, which will ultimately allow you to perform at the highest level.