Some of the world’s leading sports performance experts across a wide range of disciplines provide the knowledge and leadership that powers IMG Academy’s Athletic and Personal Development department. One of the newest additions to the team, Head of Mental Conditioning Justin Su’a, recently added the distinction of being a published author to his resume when Parent Pep Talks: Mental Skills Your Child Must Have to Succeed in School, Sports, and Life hit store shelves recently.
“This is the first book I’ve written, and it came about when I was giving a presentation on how to develop mentally tough kids, a publisher came up afterward and said, ‘I want that book, it’s that impactful’” Su’a said of the book’s genesis. “I wanted to write a book giving parents and coaches ‘how-to’ advice, empowering them with basic mental skills and strategies that we use to train elite athletes.”
IMG Academy Athletic and Personal Development program aids student-athlete development in sports and life through eight training disciplines - physical conditioning, mental conditioning, nutrition, leadership, vision training, athletic body management, life skills and recruiting education. On the mental conditioning side, Parent Pep Talks offers parents unique insight into some of the same mental conditioning techniques used with some of the world’s elite athletes from the aspiring junior to the seasoned professional.
Su’a remarked, “We always here mom and dad say, ‘come on, have more confidence’ or ‘be relaxed,’ or ‘focus,’ and it’s great advice, but many haven’t taught their children how to do those things. Just like our mental conditioning team does here at the IMG Academy, the book gives very specific strategies on how to enhance that performance mindset.”
Since arriving at IMG Academy, Su’a has had a role with the creation of the Coach John Wooden Leadership program, in addition to working with IMG Academy student-athletes across eight sports. Prior to IMG Academy, he worked with numerous figures from the NFL, Dancing With the Stars, Division-I universities and top business professionals. Su’a draws from his own experience as a standout Division-I athlete in his work:
“As a collegiate athlete--when you saw my physical stature, I was very average; but mentally, without actual training, I had certain routines, things my father - a baseball coach, not a sports psychologist - had taught me. In college, it wasn’t until we had a sports psychologist come in, and he was teaching all of these things I was already doing, and that was the moment where I learned that sports psychology was what I wanted to do for a career.”
Su’a pitched for the Brigham Young University baseball team. During his college years, he was named as a Freshman All-American, Mountain West All-Conference and spent time as a member of the American Samoan National Baseball Team. He later went on to earn an M.S. in Exercise Science, specializing in the psycho-social aspects of sport, from the University of Utah.