Photo courtesy of Nick Ieradi

How Mental Performance Coaching has Made Mark Glicini Into Chaos’ Leader

By Daniel May

Jun 28, 2023

Mark Glicini’s background in sports performance has made him a strong voice inside the Chaos’ locker room. One of three captains, Glicini is someone players on the team look to as a leader both physically and vocally. 

Becoming a leader wasn’t an overnight process. It’s something he’s learned through adversity and his strong passion for mental performance. 

 “It's not necessarily something that I was born with. I went through some struggles to figure it out,” said Glicini.

 During his last two years at Yale, Glicini was introduced to a mental performance coach, Brian Cain, through lacrosse . What started as a great outlet for him to maximize his abilities playing lacrosse at the collegiate level became an important building block for the rest of his life.

 “It was what I was looking for a very long time and I didn't even know it. I always say one of the main reasons I was able to play at the next level from high school [to Yale] was because of my strength conditioning and stickwork. But I think what allowed me to make it to the pro level and then stay there was my mental performance. It’s not just something I’ve been interested in; it's become a calling. I’m pretty obsessive about it.”

His obsession led to him founding Mark Glicini Peak Performance where he works with high school, professional, and Olympic athletes, as well as teams and executives. He teaches what he himself focuses on to perform optimally in all areas - mental performance, physical health, and nutrition. 

“It became something I wanted to teach and preach to the masses about because I really believe the best coaches do it without knowing it and the best athletes certainly take care of it whether it’s intentional or not - and that’s their mental game,’ said Glicini. “It’s something that I really feel like is the difference maker. I’ll be doing it for as long as I can.” 

Mark Glicini’s Pillars for Mental Peak Performance 

1st Pillar: Communication

“How you communicate with yourself and other people, even your spiritual life, is perhaps the most important thing.” Glicini explained. “Something that you learn pretty quickly when you're studying performance is that we have a ton of automatic negative thoughts. One of the things you begin to realize is that your thoughts are something that you can start to master overtime.”

As he mentioned later on, “negativity works negatively 100% of the time,” which makes it that much more important to eradicate those thoughts and replace them with positivity. 

How you're living your day with either “affirming statements and gratitude” is what sets you up for success. It replaces those negative thoughts with something that will set you up to express your skillset and react positively to adversity. 

For athletes specifically, they’re faced with adversity both on and off the field everyday. How they respond to that adversity as Glicini detailed, starts with between the ears. 

2nd Pillar: Self-Awareness

How does one define self-awareness? For Glicini, he looks at it in a unique way. 

“I think to myself, ‘Do I have the same personality as everybody else on my team?’ Absolutely not,” he exclaimed.

“I'm totally different in good ways and bad ways, strengths and weaknesses, you name it. I think once you understand personality psychology and people's temperament, especially your own, that relatability takes you far in sports.”

He used the example of the mental preparation that goes into a game. 

“We'll be watching film and we'll be talking about strengths and weaknesses, what they run, what the set is. However, I don't think enough people do the scouting report on themselves; what their personality is, what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are, and I don't just mean technical.” 

He said by understanding yourself, you’re able to better work with your teammates towards the common goal. In team sports, what’s most important is coming together as a unit and by being self-aware, it allows you to do just that. You must understand your weaknesses to improve on them, and understand your strengths so you can be sure to express them - both mentally and physically. 

3rd Pillar: Creating a vision for your life and short-term goals

Jim Rome, someone Glicini looks up to most in the world motivational speaking and life coaching, used to say “a fuzzy teacher has little pull power.” He means, “once you start to set your aim and vision on what you want in life, then everything becomes more clear,” detailed Glicini. 

The vision we create for the life we want to live and the short-term goals we set for ourselves allows us to achieve what we set out for in the first place. 

“When I talk about belief systems, perhaps one of the number one things that I've come to understand in psychology is that we act out the stories we tell ourselves. That's a belief system thing, you know. Champions believe they can be champions well before they win a title,” he said.

Components of Leadership

“The best definition of leadership I've ever heard is from a guy that was on my podcast [Grateful and Full of Greatness], a good friend and Navy SEAL for 19 years,” Glicini explained. “He told me, ‘leaders disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.’ Disturbing the comfortable is setting the standard from an action standpoint and competing with absolute voracity and fire.”

 It all begins with humility. 

“If you're going to ask people to put out, you better be putting out the same…I've never lost my insatiable appetite to compete for my spot and to compete for my team. That’s something people lose sight of sometimes once they find some success. You have to keep showing from an action standpoint. Leadership is very much non-verbal.”

 The next component of a great leader goes back to Glicini’s first pillar: communication.

 “The other side of it is comforting the disturbed side of communication, and that's something that I bring to Chaos,” he said. “I love to get to know the guys on my team. I really seek out to understand what makes them tick, what they care about…They’re so much different than me and everybody else on the team, so understanding their story, their narrative, what they really care about off the field… you start to come up with better answers and you build that rapport and connectivity.”

 Connectivity as an Identity

Glicini credits Chaos’ connectivity as something that’s led to their continued success over the years. 

 “One thing I always say to the team is when the pressure hits, we’re a more connected group. I've said that for several years now and we've been lucky enough and grateful enough to go to the championship for a few years in a row now. I think it's because of that connectivity.” 

That connectivity is the effect of all three pillars coming together. Chaos has great leaders who lead with their actions and have a tightly knit group that genuinely wants to see the best for each other. Even if it comes at the expense of their own success. 

“It really comes down to guys leaving their ego at the door, playing their role for the team, and making sure that they really own that spot of the field,” said Glicini. 

‘It’s really about improving rather than proving,” said Glicini. “If we went off of proving the past couple of years, where we were 0-3 almost every year, we didn’t prove anything early on. But we were improving, and I’ve said in the past, there’s sometimes a regular season loss that can feel like a win because you play great ball together and you are connected.”

That’s what makes each member of this Chaos team so special. Glicini and his teammates embody the qualities of great leaders. They show humility, embrace their role, and all possess an insatiable appetite to be great. 

Touch Somebody

Glicini's message to the team when they’re on the sidelines is simple, “touch somebody.”  

“When you’re high fiving, connecting, or first bumping someone else, you can't be in your own head,” he said. 

Again, it goes back to the first pillar - communication. When the going gets tough and moments of doubt creep in, it’s important to remain focused and fill your head with positive affirmations. 

The Chaos do that admirably and Glicini understands as a leader, his voice carries weight.

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