Todd M. Kays, Ph.D.
President of the Athletic Mind Institute
Dr. Kays’ mission is to bring the principles of sport and performance psychology to life for anyone with whom he works. It is one thing to read books about sport psychology and a completely different story to know how to apply and “practice and train the mind.” Dr. Kays creates practice drills and plans for all of his athletes, coaches, and anyone who is or wants to be a high performer. He simply wants to help people improve performance and not let their minds get in the way anymore. These are skills that can be practiced and learned, not something a person is born with into this world. He wants the mind to help them, not hinder them. So many times, athletes have incredible skill, but they do not translate these skills when it counts – in competition. Whether a MLB pitcher trying to close out the ninth inning or a junior tennis player wanting to play at the college level, the mind is critical to these endeavors.
Athletic performance is like a three-legged stool. The three legs include skill, body and mind. The skill is the part athletes practice most, such as learning to swing the club on plane, throwing a change-up, or efficiently mastering the breaststroke. The body includes strength, speed, flexibility, posture, balance, power, nutrition and sleep. These two legs of the stool tend to be most practiced and understood. The third leg of the stool is the mind. This is the least practiced, and therefore, the weakest leg most of the time. If all three legs are not solid, the stool will collapse. Athletes and coaches know the importance of the mind, but have never learned to train it. This is where Dr. Kays comes into the picture. He makes mental training real and easy to understand with daily and weekly practice drills. He makes athletes and coaches practice “mind and skill” at the same time in fact. Whether it be from Dr. Kays’ podcasts, books, videos, live observation at games and practices or teaching mental drills right on the field of play, Dr. Kays make mental drilling and training come to life. No uncertainty and no doubts.
Dr. Kays is a leader in the field of Sport and Performance Psychology. The co-author of Sport Psychology for Dummies (2010), Dr. Kays’ training and guidance have helped thousands of athletes eliminate the most common mental errors and breakdowns in sport. For five years, he was the sport psychologist for the Columbus Crew, the major league soccer team in Columbus, Ohio and has worked with numerous soccer players and coaches throughout the country. Dr. Kays has consulted with athletes and coaches from all different levels of sport, including National Football League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, United States Tennis Association, Professional Golf Association, and Ladies Professional Golf Association. He consults regularly with teams at The Ohio State University. He is an adjunct faculty member at The Ohio State University and teaches sport psychology and positive psychology in the department of psychology. In addition to Sport Psychology for Dummies, he has co-authored four additional books: Athlete’s Journal (2016), Golfer’s Journal (2017), Positive Transitions for Student Athletes: Life Skills for Transitions in Sport, College, and Career (2000), The Parent’s Playbook: Developing a Gameplan for Maximizing Your Child’s Athletic Experience (2001). Dr. Kays has appeared on radio, television, and newspaper, including ESPN, New York Times, FOX Sports, and the Golf Channel. He is and has been a consultant to top businesses, including NAPA Auto Parts, Huntington Bank, and Ohio Health.
Mental Performance Coach
Josh Krolicki is a Mental Performance Coach at the Athletic Mind Institute, where he works alongside Dr. Todd Kays. In this role, Josh leverages his prior experience as a competitive golfer with his passion for using positive psychological principles to enhance the performance of golfers of all levels. He believes that all athletes can learn to mentally perform at their best, regardless of the circumstance; this belief drives his work. He prides himself on being wholly devoted to his clients by intently listening to them and asking earnest questions to form a solution.
Josh encourages the athletes that he works with to live in the present moment, channel their motivation, and find constructive ways to handle the pressure that comes with being a competitive athlete. Josh uses a process-oriented approach to help athletes create efficient and intentional practice routines; he teaches visualization, mediation, and breathwork to encourage mindfulness on the course.
Josh’s enthusiasm for psychology and teaching extends beyond the Athletic Mind Institute. He curates sports performance psychology content which he shares on YouTube and his podcast. Through this work, he has had the opportunity to pick the brains of some of the greatest leaders in the sports world, including Warriors Head Coach Steve Kerr. Josh holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from San Diego State University.
When he is not at work, Josh enjoys being outdoors. He has a zest for sports and loves golfing, hiking, and swimming at the beach. His passion for leading an active lifestyle is benefited by his residency in Southern California. He is also an avid dog lover.
Kayleigh Hunnicutt, Ph.D.
Mental Performance Coach
Dr. Hunnicutt is a mental training coach in the Columbus, OH area. She has obtained a PhD and an MEd in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from the University of California Santa Barbara; an MA in General-Experimental Psychology from California State University Northridge; and a BS in Psychology from California Lutheran University.
Dr. Hunnicutt’s interest in understanding what separates high performers from their peers began early on; she is the step-daughter of a 24-year veteran football coach, from whom she often received tactical coaching advice on how to optimize her performance on and off the field. She also spent 14 years living in Southern California amongst some of the most influential people in their respective fields.
Inspired by these factors, Dr. Hunnicutt has dedicated herself to understanding how to embody and exemplify the mindset of high achievers. Decades of research has suggested that the primary method of doing so involves intentionally cultivating a “mentally tough” mindset. In particular, this involves: developing the necessary mental fitness skills for achieving extreme results (e.g., focus, coping, strong self-talk); being able to leverage perceived failure into great successes; and knowing the most efficient methods for reaching and exceeding goals. Additionally, these components are essential for experiencing massive success, performance improvements, interpersonal relationship satisfaction, optimal physical health, and overall psychological well-being and thriving.
However, most people are not taught these skills directly, which can easily lead to insurmountable frustration, conflict, and self-doubt, even in the most talented or privileged of people. Leveraging her deep knowledge and experience in cognitive-behavioral psychology, Dr. Hunnicutt’s work is in helping others develop with these skills so that they can show up to any situation confidently prepared to handle the feat ahead. Dr. Hunnicutt is passionate about teaching others how to develop a successful mindset and pursue their highest potential. She believes that helping others take command of their internal world is an imperative component in all high-level achievements. Dr. Hunnicutt has a special interest in helping others address their limiting beliefs and success blocks in order to get to their “next level.”
Previously Dr. Hunnicutt has been involved in research across a myriad of topics involving high-risk and vulnerable populations, in both adolescents and adults; providing direct services in community and public agencies; and with a county workgroup focused on reducing localized opioid use. Dr. Hunnicutt has been published in peer-reviewed research journals and numerous community research reports, and has presented at conferences at the national, regional, and local levels. Dr. Hunnicutt currently sits on multiple boards of directors in the local area, to help elevate educational institutions.