Bridging the Gap Podcast

Bridging the Gap Podcast brings you the latest research in sport, performance and exercise psychology in audio format. Any research that involves strengthening the mind, team dynamics, leadership or well-being, we cover it. We go straight to the researcher and bring the information straight to you, Bridging the Gap between research and your knowledge.
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Now displaying: Category: Practitioners
Mar 20, 2017

About Matt Cuccaro, Ed.M.

Passionate about personal growth and the development of high performance team cultures, Matt has more than a decade of experience working with athletes, coaches, parents, businesses and educators on the mental aspects of elite performance.

As a Performance Consultant with Telos Sport Psychology Coaching, Matt assists the development of individuals and teams from the junior level to the highest professional ranks through workshops, individual meetings, speaking engagements and publications. He currently leads programming at Sea Pines Resort, Smith Stearns Tennis Academy and the Junior Players Golf Academy.

For nine years, he served as Director of Mental Training for Junior Sports Corporation (International Junior Golf Academy and Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy) in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina where numerous All-American student-athletes continue to emerge from the culture created under his guidance. Matt received his Master of Education from Boston University in Counseling/Sport Psychology and continues to be an active member of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology.

Follow him on Twitter & Instagram: @MentalCoachMatt

Reach him via e-mail:

Jan 23, 2017

Practitioner: Derrek Falor

  • Certified Consultant for The Association for Applied Sport Psychology (CC-AASP #599)
  • Master’s Degree in Sport Psychology
  • 20 Years College Soccer Coaching Experience across the NCAA D2 and D1 levels (18 years as a head coach)
  • 3 Years as a High School Soccer Coach (2016 Seattle Times Star Coach of the Year)
  • Mental Skills Coach for the Seattle Sounders U23 Team
  • 20 Years working as a performance enhancement consultant
    • Clients include Pro Athletes, College Teams, High School Athletic Departments, High School Teams, Individual Athletes


Twitter: @DerrekFalor


Crowdfunding for: PLAY ON! Project Details

Our project, entitled 'PLAY ON! How can a sport program better the lives of young people with mental illness? ' has been chosen to be part of a mental health grant challenge through Experiment. The funding campaign just launched on January 10. works on an all-or-nothing funding model. We have 30 days to reach our goal of $6,000. Backers won’t be charged unless we reach that goal. We have already raised 34% of our goal in the first week and hope to keep this momentum going! 

Interested in being part of this project? You can by:

  1. donating directly at
  2. sharing the link ( with other friends and colleagues through email, Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  3. checking back often as we we will be posting lab notes on the progress
  4. sharing your feedback on the project itself, or letting me know if you are doing similar work so we can chat
  5. asking any questions you may have (either directly though e-mail or via the discussion board on Experiment)

I really encourage you to check out the tool and think about if any of your work could be funded this way. Experiment is all about creating a community – just think of all the amazing work this listserv could get off the ground if we band together! Side note – I just found out from Dr. Michael Sachs that AASP offers an incentive for us to engage in crowdfunding – check it out:

Thank you for your valuable time and support! 

Be well, 

Lauren Brooke, M.A. 
PhD Candidate
School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science
Curtin University

Dec 19, 2016

Nikola Milinkovic has extensive experience in Professional Athletics in the field of High Performance and Sports Psychology, focusing on elite junior, ATP and WTA tennis players across several countries, including the United States, the Netherlands and his home country Serbia. Nikola spent the last ten years Directing Sport Psychology programs in high performance tennis academy settings in both the US (Florida and Connecticut) and the Netherlands. Nikola played ITF and college tennis and is a certified Sport Psychology Consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) and is a certified Professional Level Coach through the United States Professional Tennis Registry (USPTR).

Nikola has worked extensively with sports organizations in Serbia. He is a visiting consultant at Belgrade Sports Academy and UNICEF Serbia. Nikola additionally extended his psychology work across the United Nations in The Netherlands where he served as a Staff Welfare/Development and Learning and Development Coordinator.

Nikola appeared on national television in Serbia and is an international published author. Nikola presented at The US Department of State within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and across the New England Region at various conferences. Nikola is a recipient of the 2006 Clark University Senior Class Award, given annually to the senior student-athlete of highest impact on his/her sport development, who best exemplifies class, spirit and integrity in athletic endeavors. Nikola earned his BA degree in Psychology and Theater Arts from Clark University and his EdM degree in Counseling with focus on Sport Psychology from Boston University.

Dec 5, 2016

Practitioner: Toby Larson

Toby Larson runs a private practice, Fit Mind Training where he works with athletes and performers to develop, enhance or support their mental skills that enable peak performance. Toby has a M.S. in Kinesiology from California State University East Bay and is a Certified Consultant with the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. Toby's clients include athletes at the elite professional level to the recreational level and high school sports as well. Toby's contact information can be found at

Nov 7, 2016

Practitioner: Justin Foster

Twitter: @JustinRFoster

Justin Foster is a Mental Performance Coach who helps teams, organizations, & individuals cultivate excellence through his teaching, coaching, and writing.  


He helps coaches and athletes create a winning culture, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of practice, & perform at their best more consistently in competition.  


Justin has his Master's degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology and another in Mental Health Counseling. He been in the field of sport and performance psychology for the past 10 years. He has worked with coaches and athletes ranging from nationally ranked juniors, NCAA Division 1, and NFL prospects preparing for the combine. For the past 6 years Justin has been working with members of the United States military building resilience, enhancing performance, and cultivating adaptive leaders. Justin's goal is to help his clients be at their best when it matters most, regardless of the arena - sports, work, or life. 



Oct 24, 2016

Practitioner: Sam Maniar

Sam Maniar Ph.D. is the founder of the Center for Peak Performance. He has worked with thousands of professional, Olympic, college, and high school athletes, including the Cleveland Browns, Ohio State Buckeyes, and Washington State Cougars.


Dr. Maniar uses performance psychology and his extensive experience as a foundation to help individuals, teams, companies, and groups pursue their potential. His varied background gives him a true understanding of what it takes to succeed, both in sport and the business world. He is a licensed psychologist in the state of Ohio, and his work has been featured in numerous publications, such as The New York TimesESPN.comFox NewsNCAA Times, and




Follow him @sam_maniar.



“It was more correcting myths, like they believed they needed to stay focused for three hours. Well no, you really only need to stay focused for 20 seconds at a time.”

“What would happen is, I would always work with, for whatever reason, every year there was one or two veterans on offense and defense...that would want to do everything in their power to be successful, so one of the things they would do is meet with me.”

‘What I am looking at (pre-draft analysis) is two levels of risk. Risk on the field, and off the field.”

“Part of risk on the field could be their capacity to learn, part of it might be what type of a teammate are they, how do they take feedback from coaches, are they aware of their limitations and strengths.”

Sep 26, 2016

Practitioner: Donald Christensen

Don grew up playing golf with his family, and began to play more competitively as time went on. In high school he won four state titles in Washington State. His skills helped him get a scholarship to play golf at Stanford University (pre-Tiger he added in). He cites being exposed to some mental coaching as youngster (i.e. reading The Inner Game of Tennis) as the spark the interest that would influence his career choice.

After finishing at Stanford Don attended the University of Washington where he obtained his PHD in Clinical Psychology. During his time at UW and following Don worked with various athletic teams at the school and teams in the community. He currently works for Shoreline Community College, where he has been a professor of psychology since 2004. Additionally he works part time as a consultant for athletes in the local Seattle area.






“What I typically tell people is, if you wanted to have six pack abs could you do that in a day? Unless you are going to a plastic surgeon, that’s not going to happen. The same thing is true with mental skills…if you devote the right effort over a sustained period of time, they grow and they change.”


“Mental skills are very much like physical muscles, if you train them properly they will change.”

“By their nature, habits kind of, at least initially, operate outside of our awareness. So with this mental work…you are hopefully bringing awareness to those habits and modifying them to allow them to serve you.”

“The first stage is control by others, the second stage is control by yourself, and then the last stage is automatic.”

“The argument is the best execution of those actions comes when you move into the final stage and it’s automatic.”

“If you are relying upon reminders to yourself to do something, particularly when pressure comes it’s not a recipe for successful behavior. It’s not a recipe for high performance, in fact you will probably underperform.”

“I like the notion of a sports psychologist as a facilitator as opposed to expert. I mean ya, we have some training and some knowledge that people may not have, but I like this idea of people becoming their own coach.”

“I usually joke with athlete, I tell them that I hope you mess up majorly while you work with me because what we will do in the aftermath is we will review it.”

“When we fail, when we struggle, when things don’t go well, we often don’t want to revisit those moments.”

“What if it’s not failure, what if it’s feedback?”

“When we get excessively anxious, we are actually impairing the pre-frontal cortex. You can actually see it being inhibited, and that’s one major piece of the brain we are going to rely upon to that kind of mental talk yourself through it work. So we are handicapping the very part of our nervous system that we would need to be able to use to pull off that kind of execution. I think better to learn that skill beyond that, so that again its automatic, it’s habitual. Such that, when that part of the brain is impaired it really doesn’t matter because you are using a different aspect of yourself to do what you are doing.”

“The brain goes to what’s familiar. That’s where it wants to return. Is that good thing or a bad thing? It depends on what’s familiar.”

Sep 11, 2016


Matt Belair is a speaker, author, podcaster, athlete and mental trainer with experience in the fields of mental fortitude, Zen, the pursuit of inner peace and positive living, martial arts, marketing, snowboarding, and travel to neuro-linguistic programming, meditation, sport psychology, life coaching, and conscious living.

Matt has travelled the world and put himself in the fire to test his knowledge and his limits. He spent time in Nepal studying meditation with Buddhist monks and survived a near death experience while trekking Everest. Travelled the world as a professional snowboard coach, trained mixed martial arts with pro fighters in Thailand. He has learned the secrets to becoming an effective and powerful leader, speaker and trainer under the guidance of mentor Michel Losier, the best selling author of the Law of Attraction, and spent time in China training with 34th Generation Shaolin Monks, just to name some of his incredible experiences.

In this podcast he discusses his approach to working with athletes and offers advice to anyone that wishes to explore and develop their potential.




“Whats the secret? The secret is bloody hard work.”

“That’s how you create your reality, one day at a time.”

“Mastery is simplicity.”

‘Mastery is so basic, it is just the right basics.”

Aug 29, 2016


Brian Lomax is an expert in training mental toughness and competitive skills to highly motivated athletes looking to become their best.  His students have enjoyed success at local, collegiate and national levels in a variety of sports including tennis, golf, football, volleyball, basketball, softball, luge, and figure skating.  He directs the mental skills training programs for several of the best junior tennis academies in New England, and works with a number of Division 1 college sports teams.

Brian received his Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Missouri and completed his undergraduate study at Vanderbilt University.  He achieved a certificate as a Mental Toughness Specialist from the Human Performance Institute and is a certified tennis professional by the USPTA.  On the competitive side, Brian has been a highly ranked tennis player throughout his adult career both nationally and in New England with a career best ranking of #2 in the US in Men’s 35 and over singles in 2006.  He continues to compete at a high level and believes that this experience helps him identify with his students.


Quotes from Episode:

“The important thing is to win this match, it’s not to get upset about a mistake that I cannot change.”

“There is a notion these days that being a perfectionist is a good thing”

‘That’s what was the major change, focusing on the process, but also figuring out what it (process) was.”

“One of the reasons we call mental toughness, you know toughness, is it forces you to make tough choices and one of them is looking at yourself as the reason why things happen.”

“If you are blaming things that are outside of your control, then they can never change, and then you can never change.”

“If that’s how you feel and think when you’re playing at your best, well why aren’t you working on getting yourself to feel that way?”