#355: Guest Interview: Courtney Thompson

Season #19

When I locked down an interview with Courtney Thompson, I might as well have taken home the gold.

Not only is Courtney a 2-time Olympic medalist with a professional resume that goes on for miles, Courtney is an advocate for mental training, and credits mindset work for a lot of her success, on and off the court.

A champion on multiple levels, Courtney is living proof of the power of mental training, and has dedicated her life to giving back to the sports world and making real, meaningful change in her athletes.

She’s a fountain of wisdom and a total badass.

In this episode, Courtney talks vulnerably about human things like self-doubt and imperfection, even at the elite level. She talks about how she cultivates confidence and inner wisdom, and shares her experience coaching a new generation of college athletes at Stanford University. She ends the episode with an actionable mental training nugget: The exact mental exercise she practices to help her let go of the uncontrollables.

It’s not every day you get to be coached by an Olympian.

Through stories of how she practiced mental training before she even knew what it was, to a comical anecdote about getting the yips in front of her athletes, Courtney is equal parts entertaining and inspirational.

From start to finish, my interview with THE Courtney Thompson was an absolute delight. And I can say with confidence that there’s something in this episode for everyone. Let’s dive in!

Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [0:00] Lindsey introduces her first guest on the podcast, two-time Olympian, Courtney Thompson!
  • [4:06] When Courtney joined the Olympic team, she was taught, “There are 3 things you can train as a human, your body, your craft, and your mind.”
  • [6:50] Although the benefits of mental training reverberate through your whole life, you still have to train and retrain your mind in every context; in and out of sports.
  • [9:06] Before she learned mental training, Courtney often used daily habits and superstition to try to recreate the mental magic she felt on the days when everything just flowed.
  • [13:01] Why responding positively to failure doesn’t make you a worse athlete, it makes you a better one, according to Courtney.
  • [14:46] Courtney describes her ‘aha moment’ when she decided to change what she was doing and start training her mind.
  • [17:51] What’s an Olympian’s mental training routine like? Courtney shares the details; now, and back when she was a competitive athlete.
  • [20:09] Courtney shares the very mental training exercise she practiced as a pro athlete to help her let go of the un-controllables before she stepped on the court.
  • [26:22] Why front-loading mental skills is a game-changer because you can’t always “think your way out of” your fight or flight response.
  • [30:09] Courtney shares the way she now approaches in-the-moment mental training as a coach with her athletes.
  • [33:43] Lindsey asks, “How do you prepare yourself to be successful?” Courtney responds with a discussion about her relationship with meditation and the inner wisdom it cultivates.
  • [36:51] Courtney shares the hard-hitting questions she asks her athletes to help them be more aware of their internal thoughts, self-talk, and mindset.
  • [40:56] We are all in the pursuit of being our best, and mindset work is a continual practice. Part of being a coach is going through feelings of pressure, failure, resistance, and self-doubt; that part never goes away.
  • [48:48] Why is it important to be vulnerable as a coach? It takes a lot of confidence to admit that we’re scared, but there’s not an athlete in the world that hasn’t felt that way.
  • [51:06] Courtney shares the ONE THING she would tell someone who was just starting their mental training journey.
  • [54:31] Lindsey and Courtney wrap up the episode by discussing how Courtney hopes to grow her mindset in 2022, including one (semi-surprising) mindfulness practice rooted in buddhism.



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