Donato Fanelle is a Mental Training and Peak Performance Specialist for KPEX Consulting. He obtained a Master’s degree in Sport & Performance Psychology from the University of Denver and his Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University where he also played for the DI ACHA Men’s Ice Hockey team. Donato worked in the University of Denver’s Center for Performance Excellence where he consulted with athletes from a wide range of sports and skill levels. He has worked with adaptive athletes and has facilitated mental skills workshops for coaches, leadership councils, and high-risk occupations. Donato is a Level 4 USA Hockey CEP and has coached local youth and high school hockey teams and worked as a Hockey Operations volunteer for the University of Denver D1 college hockey team, doing pre-scout video analysis.
Donato is certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI), is a member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, and is currently working towards CMPC certification. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, playing the ukulele, and taking road trips.
As a mental training and peak performance specialist, my mission is to help athletes and performers to optimize their potential, overcome challenges, and improve overall well-being through mental skills training and the science of sport psychology. My goal is to essentially work myself out of a job; I want you to hone your mental skills to the point to where you no longer need the help.
How much of your sport, performance domain, craft, job, or hobby is mental? How much time do you spend training the mental aspect?
Whenever I ask my athletes the first question, I typically get answers ranging anywhere from 25 to 99%. But when I ask the second question, I am typically given a dumfounded look. Most of us recognize that what we do is not just physical, technical, or tactical – a significant part of it is also mental. Yet, rarely do we spend time deliberately training our minds. We lift weights to build physical strength, spend hours practicing technical skills, and study film and discuss strategy to better understand tactics. So, if up to 99% of our sport is mental, we should also dedicate time for mental skills training.
My training philosophy is based on four-core aspects: 1) individualized approach, 2) build relationships, 3) scientific-humanistic approach, and 4) process-focused skill building.
1) Individualized approach – With mental skills, one size does not fit all. A strength for one team or athlete might be a weakness for another. What works for someone might be challenging for someone else. I believe in taking a collaborative approach; I am the expert in mental training, but you are the expert on you.
2) Build relationships – My consulting style in based on genuineness, respect, and empathy. I believe in not only building meaningful relationships with clients, but also helping clients to build relationships with teammates, coaches, and families. I help to foster these relationships through effective communication and emotional intelligence.
3) Scientific-humanistic approach – Sport psychology is both an art and a science. There are empirically validated methods and interventions backed by research and science, yet there is an art to delivering that information in a way that resonates with the individual. The methods I used are holistic and evidence-based, but I put the individual first by focusing on strengths and solutions.
4) Process-focused skill building – Mental skills are SKILLS; through deliberate practice and patience, they can be developed and improved. I believe in order to maximize mental training, the energy and focus needs to be placed in the present moment. Be present, and trust the process!