80 minutes | Mar 6, 2019
ZEPP FM 019 - Squash and death threats from the Taliban with Maria Toorpakai
Maria Toorpakai is a Pakistani squash player who had the dream to become an athlete as a young girl. Unfortunately, the culture, the society and the Taliban don’t allow girls to be actively involved in sports in Pakistan – and especially not in remote tribal areas like Maria’s home, South Waziristan. However, Maria never gave up fighting for what was important to her, and luckily she had a father who was a strong advocate for equal rights of men and women, and supported Maria in her dream to become an athlete. At the age of 4 years, Maria burned all her girls clothes and lived disguised as a boy, which made it possible for her to be the athlete she always wanted to be. After discovering squash and the joy she experienced on a squash court her true identity was revealed and she received death threats from different groups, including the Taliban. Although it wasn’t safe for her to leave the family’s house she kept training inside her bedroom. She sent thousands of emails to people around the world, asking for help. Finally, Jonathon Power, former world #1 in squash, offered her to come to Toronto/Canada. Today, Maria Toorpakai lives and trains in Toronto, still competing for the Pakistan. In this episode, Maria talks about her story and her experiences as a girl in an extreme patriarchal society, about being oppressed, about receiving death threats and about never giving up. She talks about the mindset she developed on her journey in life in squash and sport, about equality, human rights and her book A different kind of daughter. We also talked about the Maria Toorpakai foundation is dedicated to building peaceful communities and gender equity by investing in education, sports and healthcare programs for young girls and boys in remote regions of the world, particularly the Tribal Areas of Pakistan.
70 minutes | Feb 20, 2019
ZEPP FM 018 - Keeping it simple in sport psychology with Lisa Ruebsteck
After studying psychology, Lisa focused specifically on the field of sport psychology, because she enjoys helping other athletes learn new things and improve their performances. Today she is living and working in The Hague in the Netherlands, owning ToughMinds together with two other sport psychologists, a company that delivers sport psychology services to athletes, team, coaches, companies as well as other target groups in the Netherlands. Once you meet Lisa you feel the positive vibes that surround her and I really enjoyed talking with her. She doesn’t only talk about the great moments as a sport psychologist, but also shares several situations where she felt that she might have made a mistake, and that taught her some valuable lessons. In addition, Lisa and I talked about what skills future sport psychologists should learn in order to be really able to work with athletes, coaches and other clients, and not only focusing on the basic sport psychology skills everyone can learn in text- and work books. Thank you, Lisa, for all the great insights into your methods, your ideas, your way of working with people and what lessons you already learned along your way as a sport psychologist.
67 minutes | Feb 6, 2019
ZEPP FM 017 - Turning off the mind with Nick Symmonds
Nick Symmonds is a two-time Olympian, who competed for the United States in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. With 7 NCAA titles, 9 U.S. titles, a silver medal at the World Championships and a personal best of 3:59.68 for One Mile, he can be pretty satisfied with what he achieved during his active career. However, Nick doesn’t enjoy the good life after a successful sporting career, he goes on and sets new goals for himself for the future. Not only did he co-found RunGum, a company producing chewing gums with energy boosting ingredients, but he strives also to climb the seven summits within the next couple of years. His goal is to be the first person on earth to run the mile under four minutes and summit Mt. Everest. In this episode, Nick talks about how he dealt with stress prior and during competitions, why discipline and dealing with obstacles is so important and what characteristics he developed while being an Olympic athlete that help him achieve his goals today in business and in mountains. Thank you, Nick, for sharing your personal insights with us!
101 minutes | Jan 23, 2019
ZEPP FM 016 - Holistic athlete development in eSports with Fabian Broich
In this episode, Fabian gives great insights into the lives of eSports athletes, how they train, how they live and how he tries to improve not only their level of performance through the application of several methods from sport psychology, but also their mental and physical well-being through new diets, more physical activity and fresh air. Moreover, his job is to create a cohesive team that sticks together, out of a small group of individuals who are only used to play their game in front of their own screen, only for their own benefit. With what I know about Fabian and how he talks about it, I’m pretty sure he’s doing a remarkable job in Copenhagen, helping Origen and his athletes to dominate League of Legends in 2019.
63 minutes | Jan 9, 2019
ZEPP FM 015 – Learn from the past and get ready for the future
Many students and people at workshops or keynotes regularly ask me about the methods and strategies I apply when working with people. With this solo episode today I am sharing one of the strategies with you, which I use for myself and which I apply with athletes and other clients when it’s all about defining new goals for the future. I’m taking you through the complete process of reflecting on the past, identifying lessons learned from the last year or the last season, define new goals for the future as well as strategies for the times when life gets difficult and you might lose your goals out of sight. A couple of years ago I started not only defining goals for the upcoming year, but also developing a certain structure that not only helps me for myself and my personal goals, but that I can also apply when working with clients, athletes and students. The result is the SIX+ONE strategy I’m going to talk about in today’s episode. I will definitely keep working on the strategies and its methods, but maybe you and your clients can benefit from what the strategies is like today. In order to make it even easier to follow and apply this strategy I created a short step-by-step guide. In this pdf file you get the basic guidelines, the strategies as well as one template for working on your outcome goals in step number 5. Should you have any questions regarding the strategy or any thoughts, please drop me an email and I’m happy to answer all of your questions!
87 minutes | Dec 26, 2018
ZEPP FM 014 - One toe at a time with Kevin Rempel
Kevin Rempel is a 2014 Paralympic Bronze medalist, author of the book ‘Still Standing: When You Have Every Reason to Give Up, Keep Going’, and founder of the Sledge Hockey Experience. Kevin has an incredible story that has captivated audiences across Canada. He firmly believes that the greater the challenges you face, the greater your story will be, and as you discover the mindset that enables you to unlock your unknown greatness you begin to rewrite your script and be the hero of your own movie. Back in the early 2000s Kevin was a motocross rider with a dream of competing at the X-Games. On a beautiful day in July in 2006 he jumped with his bike high through the air, lost control over his moto bike, crashed and severely injured his spinal cord, which left him an incomplete paraplegic. Now, sitting in a wheelchair Kevin was desperate to take responsibility for his own life and prove his doctors wrong, who told him that he will never be able to walk again. Kevin not only regained his ability to walk – and ride a moto bike again – he also started playing wheelchair basketball and sledge hockey, and finally competing at the 2014 Paralympic Games. In this episode, Kevin talks about his experiences after his accident, his mental health problems and suicidal thoughts, how he took responsibility and ownership of his life and his situation, bad recommendations he heard in the hospital, and what gratitude means to him today. I learned a lot from Kevin and how he approaches his life after being knocked down quite a few times.
57 minutes | Dec 12, 2018
ZEPP FM 013 – My personal top 5 books of 2018
Every year I’m reading many books to see what I can learn from them for me personally and for my work with students, athletes, coaches and other clients. A couple of years ago people started asking me which books I read, which books I can recommend, or which books I frequently give away as presents. After telling the same things over and over again, I founded my personal book club, where I review one book a month. The topics range from autobiographies, over leadership and motivation to Zen Buddhism. Last year was the first year when I decided to choose the top books I read that year – and I wanted to continue this in 2018 as well. Thus, in this episode I’m reviewing the what I consider the five best books I read in 2018 and which I recommend to many of the athletes, coaches, students and clients I’m working with! However, I’m not only reviewing these books today, I’m also giving them away for free to one lucky winner. The books I recommend in today’s episode are The obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday (3:27), Quiet by Susan Cain (15:44), Mindset by Carol S. Dweck (25:04), Wherever you go, there you are by Jon Kabat-Zinn (36:48), and The daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman (44:43). I’ve put the time stamps in brackets so you can easily navigate to the next book if you’re specifically interested in a certain book. I hope that you’ll benefit from these books as much as I did!
98 minutes | Nov 28, 2018
ZEPP FM 012 - Sport psychology in eSports with Ismael Pedraza
Still, one of the very few sport psychologists working in eSports is Ismael Pedraza from Colombia. After playing football himself he realized during his studies of sport sciences how important the mental side of the game is, and he started to specialize in the field of sport psychology. Although he never really played video or computer games himself, he identified a huge demand of mental preparation in eSports, what lead him and some colleagues to found The Mental Craft – a company devoted to help athletes, teams and coaches in eSports improve their performances through sport psychology. Ismael has been working in eSports for the last three years, which is an amazingly long time, because sport psychology wasn’t really popular in eSports a couple of years ago. While working with Misfits, one of the professional teams in the European League of Legends Championship Series (EULCS), they became the first Western team to take any games off of the then reigning World Champion SK Telecom T1. If – like myself - you’re not familiar what eSports competitions look like, you can get a great insight in the following video. I think, it’s somehow really fascinating. In this episode, Ismael talks about his experiences in eSports, how he entered eSports as a sport psychologist, and how he thinks athletes, teams and coaches in eSports can benefit from sport psychology. Moreover, he gives some great advice for any sport psychologist who thinks about learning more about eSports and what is really necessary to know about eSports and the different video games in order to be able to successfully work in eSports. One important aspect he mentioned here was, that it can be even beneficial not to know anything or too much about eSports, and how this “not knowing” can set you up for a successful career as a sport psychologist in eSports.
61 minutes | Nov 14, 2018
ZEPP FM 011 - Coaching athletes to high performance
Only very recently I was invited to speak at the 8thEuropean Pole Vault and High Jump Conference in front of coaches and athletes about a topic that is truly important to me: coaching athletes. While preparing this presentation, I always had a statement by John Amaechi in mind, that illustrates why I think it’s so important to reflect about how we work with athletes. John Amaechi said in his keynote presentation at the AASP 2018 conference in Toronto/ON a few weeks ago, that in sport we’re working in an environment that is not made for the benefit of the athlete. Unfortunately, I have to agree with him in many situations. This environment is not only shaped in influenced by sporting organizations and federations, but also by parents, advisors, and most importantly coaches. I’m not saying that everyone who is working in sports acts only for their own benefit and their own success and against the well-being and the needs of their athletes. However, I think and feel that we all can improve how we work with other people in general and with athletes in particular. Thus, in this presentation I share some theories that might help coaches understand their own coaching as well as their athletes a little better. Moreover, I also talk about some evidence-based strategies from sport psychology research that coaches can use and apply when working with their athletes, and how coaches can implement these strategies into their coaching. I hope, wish, and believe that we all can improve how we work with other people and change the environment of sports for the better.
54 minutes | Oct 31, 2018
ZEPP FM 010 - Big Jumps and little steps with Matthias “Hauni” Haunholder
Matthias “Hauni” Haunholder is a professional freerider, and he is also an adventurer. Hauni competed on the Freeride World Tour between 2008 and 2011, finishing regularly among the Top 5 athletes and he started going on expeditions in 2008. He travels to Antarctica to search for powder snow, hikes through Siberia to climb the highest peak in Eastern Siberia and to be the first to ever drop into the face of Gora Pobeda, and who went to Onekotan – a hostile and remote island south of Kamchatka – to climb and ride a volcano. I’ve seen his movies and I must admit that it’s absolutely stunning what Hauni does and I am so glad that he made some time available to talk about his motivation and his purpose, how he deals with stress atop of a mountain or during a ride and what he learnt during his career as a freerider. From my perspective, Hauni is an athlete who is able to teach each and everyone of us that nothing is impossible if we put in the work and hours that are necessary to make our dreams come true. Hauni is a unique athlete who shows perfect self-awareness and which helps him achieve his goals and make his dreams come true. …and if you want to know how Hauni deals with standing on a 50cm wide ridge atop of a mountain and staying calm and relaxed at all times, this episode is definitely for you.
86 minutes | Oct 17, 2018
ZEPP FM 009 - Bouncing back from sport injuries with Dr Les Podlog
A dislocated elbow, several shoulder dislocations, a hernia, a fractured hand and three reconstructive knee surgeries in seven years forced Les to give up wrestling after 13 years of training and competition. However, he didn’t start bee keeping or basket weaving as his doctors suggested. Instead, Les started researching why and how some athletes successfully deal with injuries and others don’t, and how athletes can successfully cope with sport injuries. In today’s episode, Les shares what he found sport psychologists, coaches, athletic trainers and physiotherapists need to consider when working with injured athletes, and how they can support their athletes. One of the most important things Les talks about are the three factors autonomy, competence and relatedness that need to be considered when an athlete experiences an injury. In addition, Les explains in great detail how anyone who tries to support an injured athlete can identify and subsequently address these most important factors for each athlete. Les is a great colleague of mine who’s researching and lecturing at the University of Utah, introducing his students to the incredible field of sport psychology, and it was a real pleasure to talk to him again about two of the topics, that he’s an absolute expert in: sport injuries and post-traumatic growth. I’ve learned a lot from Les during our interview and I hope that you’ll benefit from his knowledge and his examples, too. So, no matter if you’re an athlete, coach, staff member or simply interested in how athletes could and should deal with injuries – and how they might even benefit from injuries! – this episode is the right one for you!
44 minutes | Oct 3, 2018
ZEPP FM 008 – The Hardangervidda Project
This summer I made a short trip to Norway. I crossed the Hardangervidda, Europe’s biggest high alpine plateau, alone – only with my tent, sleeping bag, mattress and enough food for nine days. I did this trip not as a vacation. Instead, I wanted to see if hiking over a couple of days would be a worthy method I could include in my coaching portfolio. In this episode I’m going to deal with three topics. Firstly, I will talk about why I think long distance hiking makes a great coaching method, and how I think it could be integrated into my coaching portfolio. Secondly, I will briefly discuss some aspects one needs to consider when planning such a hike coaching trip, and thirdly, I’ll talk about five things I personally learned and realized while crossing the Hardangervidda. To sum my experience up, I can say that the trip was just perfect. The weather was excellent, I enjoyed the silence, the solitude, the sun, the wind, the water, the activity itself and everything that happened in the Hardangervidda. No matter how heavy the backpack was, and how strenuous it was to climb some of the hills and mountains I am absolutely grateful for the experiences I made. If there is one advice I can give at that point it would be the following: Grab whatever equipment you have and go out there. Into the woods, onto the mountains – whatever is possible for you – and enjoy the silence. It will be louder than you imagine.
59 minutes | Sep 19, 2018
ZEPP FM 007 - Playing volleyball with Khmer Rouge soldiers in Cambodia with Senghay Ly
Back in the early days of the Cambodian National Volleyball League – Disabled (CNVLD), Senghay was one of the first players to compete in the only volleyball league for disabled athletes in the world. His effort, his motivation and his determination helped him deal with his disability, social adversities, as well as several other challenges in his life. However, he never quit. Senghay was a national team member of the Cambodian National Volleyball Team and competed in various international competitions. His effort, his motivation and his experiences helped him improve himself every day a bit more. After playing volleyball and studying Applied Economics in Cambodia, he was awarded the development scholarship at the University of Auckland/NZ, where he received the degree of Master of International Business only recently. In today’s episode we look at Senghay’s history in playing volleyball, what it meant to him to play volleyball in the CNVLD, and what it felt like to represent Cambodia at World Cups. One topic we also discussed was what it was like to play together with former Khmer Rouge soldiers who arrested, tortured and probably executed Cambodian citizens between 1951 and 1991 – a topic that always interested me since I met Senghay and his fellow team mates in 2007. After actively working together with the CNVLD between 2007 and 2010 it was a pleasure for me to talk to Senghay and hear about his own development as well as how some of my former athletes do today. He shares many great insights into sports and life as an athlete in a developing country, and what challenges he and his team mates had to face. All of this will probably leave you humble and grateful for the life you’re able to live today – and it will encourage you to look at obstacles and adversities from a different perspective. Thank you Senghay for sharing your experiences with us!
116 minutes | Sep 5, 2018
ZEPP FM 006 - About good and really bad advices in sport psychology with Grzegorz Wieclaw
Grzegorz is one of only very few sport psychologists who work in Poland with athletes, teams and coaches – both in able-bodied and in disabled sports. It took us several months to finally schedule a date for our interview because he is so busy travelling and working with his teams, that it’s hard to get ahold of him. However, we made it – and I’m more than happy that it finally worked out! Grzegorz studied psychology and sport psychology in Canada, Germany, Finland and Poland, and one of his first lecturers, Prof David Cox from Simon Fraser University (Vancouver/BC, Canada) was such an inspiration to Grzegorz that he decided to focus on sport psychology and try to inspire others the way Prof Cox inspired him. From what I know about Grzegorz and where his journey lead him so far, I’d say, that he’s on a very good way to be an inspiration for athletes, coaches as well as current and future sport psychologists. In today’s episode – which is longer than regular episodes – Grzegorz and I talk about his experiences in sport psychology, his purpose for working with able-bodied and disabled athletes, what strategies he teaches athletes to better deal with stress, what we can learn from athletes (especially disabled athletes), the worst advices he regularly hears being dispensed in sports, what advices he would give future sport psychologists to enter this amazing field – and much, much more! I really enjoyed talking with Grzegorz and we’ve already planned to do another episode on sport psychology - specifically, how and which movies can help coaches and teams to learn from such movies. No matter if you’re an athlete, coach or (future) sport psychologist – this episode is full of great experiences, stories and advices!
70 minutes | Aug 22, 2018
ZEPP FM 005 - Acceptance and gratitude in sports with Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk used to play Australian Ruled Football quite successfully – until he injured his ankle during a match, needing several surgeries that unfortunately left him with only 20% range of movement in his lower leg. Ultimately, he wasn’t able to return to his sport. However, he didn’t give up, fought his way back into sports and found a way to be an active athlete and a role model for other people instead. I think it’s safe to say that many of us experience setbacks in life. Some setbacks might be small – some might be massive. I don’t have the right to judge if the setback Daniel had after he injured his ankle was a small or a huge setback – but it definitely made him struggle. But: he didn’t give up. He identified ways how to deal with the new circumstances, how to accept what has happened and how to use this situation to make the next major steps in his life – both, as a person and as an athlete. If you have ever been in a situation where you didn’t know how to react and behave, how you could use it as a stepping stone for your future self, or where you thought: “I’m done – I can’t take it anymore” – then Daniel has some great thoughts and experiences to share with you. I’m grateful that Daniel took his time to answer all of my questions, that he shared how his first athletic career ended and his second career started, how he overcame his inner struggles and what it feels like to be a national team athlete today. This episode is full of inspiration and great advices from an athlete who experienced a career ending injury, accepted his new identity, found a way to deal with his new situation, and started to represent his country at World Championships – and maybe in Tokio 2020, too.
63 minutes | Aug 8, 2018
ZEPP FM 004 - Emotional intelligence - or how to breathe with Dr Sylvain Laborde
Sylvain is not only a very good colleague of mine - he is one of the most successful early career researchers in sport psychology and especially emotional intelligence. Talking to Sylvain about his passion for research and how athletes can benefit from his knowledge was truly inspiring for me. Every time I’m travelling to scientific conferences and Sylvain is there as well he is some kind of a celebrity. People want to talk to him, learn from him and are interested in his current experiments. Everyone wants to know what he identified, how they can become more emotionally intelligent themselves or how they can help their athletes to achieve this. When I asked Sylvain, whether he could imagine sharing something he knows about emotional intelligence I thought that emotional intelligence refers only to a person being able to identify what is going on in the people around him or her. Like a coach who has to be empathetic and understand all of his athletes in order to create a trusting relationships with them. Man, was I wrong. Emotional intelligence is way more than that – and I am so glad I talked with Sylvain and that he cleared many things up for me! This episode is full of knowledge, practical tips how to become more emotionally intelligent deal better with stress before, during and after competition – or every other situation that stresses you. ...and if you want to know what Sylvain would have told Zinedine Zidane before headbutting Marco Materazzi in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, this episode is for you!
67 minutes | Jul 24, 2018
ZEPP FM 003 - Being an athlete role model with Charles Fernandez
Today’s episode is very special to me because it is the first one with a guest, and it’s a pleasure that Charles Fernandez is the very first guest on the show. In 2014 Charles and I met in Guatemala, while he was preparing for the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz. Charles’ story is really inspiring, because he is the youngest modern pentathlon gold medalist in the history of the Pan American Games, and who has been nominated Athlete Role Model by the International Olympic Committee to teach young elite athletes about what it means to be the Olympic values at the Youth Olympic Games 2018 in Buenos Aires. There are phrases out there that are over-extensively used like “you need to believe in your dreams” or “always give your best” – but when you listen to Charles Fernandez you realize that it were these phrases that kept him going even when the going got tough. It were these phrases that represent his inner attitudes and beliefs that helped him achieve his goals, becoming one of the best modern pentathletes in the world and competing at the Olympic Games 2016. This episode is full of great stories, experiences and strategies Charles uses to stay motivated, cope with stress and overcome failure.
63 minutes | Jul 13, 2018
ZEPP FM 002 - The 25 lessons I've learnt so far
At the end of every semester, at the end of most workshops and classes, and at the end of each individual coaching session I ask my students, clients, coaches etc. what they have learnt over the last X days, hours, minutes. From my experience this question is great for helping them so briefly reflect about everything they are taking away from today. A couple of weeks ago, I was challenged in a similar way by one of my students. After asking my students what they learnt while coaching a real client over the past weeks, this student asked me: “Christian – I think we learnt a lot, and I also learnt a lot from what my class mates shared today. Now I am wondering what it is that you’ve learnt over the past years while working as a sport psychologist?” Wow! I’ve never been asked that question before, and it was tremendously helpful to think about this question. Obviously I regularly reflect on what I do with my students, athletes and coaches, and if it works well, or what I could improve, what I should omit. But I’ve never asked myself what lessons I’ve learnt over all these years that I’m actively involved in elite sports – as an athlete, coach, researcher or sport psychologist. I shared all of the things I think I’ve learnt during one of my classes, and I think it might also be interesting for you as well. I’m here to help you learn and benefit from my experiences and this is why I am sharing my top 25 lessons I’ve learnt in the past. Some things are directly related to working in elite sports. However, I’ll also be sharing what I’ve come to understand so far about life in general.
26 minutes | Jul 13, 2018
ZEPP FM 001 - Welcome to ZEPP FM!
Welcome to the first episode of ZEPP FM, a podcast by Christian Zepp to uncover the methods and strategies athletes, coaches and teams use to achieve their goals - from finishing a marathon to winning olympic medals. In this episode, Chris talks about his inspiration for this podcast and sport psychology.