Why strength training for the mind?

Every high performance athlete wants a competitive edge

Athletic competition is intense. For an athlete to reach their highest goals they need to have an “extra” edge. Elite athletes who include mental strength to complement their physical training are able to maximize their performance.

Sometimes an athlete is faced with mental barriers, whether after an injury or not. Injury can sideline any athlete, but one of the biggest hurdles to returning to competition is mental preparation. Mental blocks are real and are often dismissed as something to “just get over”. The connection between the mind and body is undeniable. In the quest for the ultimate performance, athletes must also train for mental strength. High performance mental strength training is an important component in building resilient, successful athletes.

Success – in the classroom or the boardroom

Strength conditioning for the mind is not just for elite athletes. Performance issues can also occur at school or work. With the proper training, anyone can become more mentally prepared and overcome barriers to achieve success. Often success is not about overcoming an obstacle but just reaching a new level of personal performance.

About Me

Jackie Bardana

Photo by Suzy Lamont

Jackie Bardana – Mental Strength and High Performance Consultant, PT, BScPT, CPC, CSCS, CAT

For the past 20 years, I have worked with high level athletes as a physiotherapist and athletic therapist in Canada, the United States, Belgium, Kosovo and Australia. Working in these 5 countries gave me a wide range of experience that expanded my professional knowledge and skill set.

While in the United States, I was granted security clearance to the US Olympic Training Centre and was exposed to the high level intensity of competitive Olympic training. I also had the opportunity to work in a university multidiscipline sports medicine centre where I worked with many high achieving elite athletes. These experiences inspired me to obtain my professional certification as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist to further my knowledge in this field.

As a physiotherapist with the Australian Ballet Academy in Melbourne – the nation’s centre for elite dancers – I worked with dancers aged 12 and up who were under immense pressure to secure a spot with the National Ballet Company. Both of these experiences, in the United States and in Australia, provided invaluable insight into the world of mental strength training and self-discipline in sport.

Back in Canada, I focused on the treatment and training of athletes from Queen’s University varsity teams and clubs in Kingston, Ontario. I also worked with high school rugby and football teams. Over time, I recognized that a short and long term plan detailing how to assist an athlete gain peak performance is often lacking, leaving athletes unsure how to proceed or even begin.

In 2006, I graduated as a Certified Professional Coach from iPEC Coaching with a specialization in Performance Coaching in New York City, a recognized accredited International Coaching Federation program. This program gave me the additional skills to assist with the mental strength of an athlete.

As a former competitive gymnast, I have developed the kind of focus and determination needed to perform at a high level. I was exposed to many techniques that helped me prepare for competitions and optimize my performance when it really mattered. As an athlete who has experienced some injuries and barriers, I have first-hand experience using mental strength training to help better my own athletic performance, not only as a competitive gymnast, but also a long distance runner and triathlete. I attribute my achievements to my mental preparation and resilience. As well, during my education, I employed techniques when preparing for exams, presentations and then eventually job interviews – with success. Without realizing it, I was perfecting my performance optimizing skills. I knew the combination of focusing on strengthening the body and mind would give athletes their best chance to reach their goals.

Over the last 2 years, I have brought all of my skills together in my work with various athletes from children to young adults. My own two children are now competing at an elite level in gymnastics. I have helped them through the rigours of training and competition by guiding them through useful optimizing strategies. It has been satisfying to help all of the athletes I’ve worked with achieve their goals and overcome barriers. The results have been outstanding and the successes have been rewarding. Watching the improvement of these athletes was the inspiration behind the creation of Forza Consulting.

I am passionate about the human body, the power of the mind and the quest for the ultimate performance. Forza Consulting allows me to use all of my experience and skills to best guide and support the “whole” athlete to reach their maximum potential.

Professional Credentials:

PT – Registered Physiotherapist, College of Physiotherapists of Ontario, 1998
BScPT – Queen’s University with a Baccalaureate in Physical Therapy, 1998
CPC – Certified Professional Coach, iPEC Coaching, 2006
CSCS – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), 1999
CAT – Certified Athletic Therapist, Canadian Athletic Therapy Association, 1999- 2017

Jackie Bardana - Forza Consulting

Photo by Stephen Wild

Specialized Certifications:

  • Integrated balance training (BOSU)
  • Running mechanics and gait analysis
  • Get Fit to Ski
  • Respect in Sport
  • True Sport Clean
  • Level 1 Coaching (gymnastics, trampoline & swimming)
  • Fitness instructor