3 Habits of Elite Athletes (Applied to Dog Sport)

[Check out my new podcast—The Kathy Keats Show, where I talk about high performance principles and mindset applied to dog sport and life! You can listen on Apple, Spotify and (soon) Google. If you want to be notified of new episodes, click here.]

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...oops, wrong story, it just feels like it was that long ago... 

I was coaching at Clean Run Camp (at that time, the largest dog agility camps on the east coast) and during a break I stopped to watch the legendary Nancy Gyes do a bit of weave pole training with her amazing teammate Riot. (Yes, this was a long time ago.)

I only had to watch for a few seconds to understand why she was (and is) one of the dog agility greats.

Nancy practiced like a high performance athlete.

She was using the same principles I had used in my career as an elite competitor and coach in basketball.

Although I already had a modest amount of success in agility, it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I...

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Life Lessons From Simone Biles

Ever heard any of these?

“Take one for the team.”

“There’s no “I” in team.”

“No pain, no gain.”

“You’ve got to be mentally tough and play through it (i.e. injury, sickness, personal problems).”

When you are injured, people are forgiving (at least for awhile). But if you step back for your mental health, you are branded a traitor, selfish, not a team player, mentally weak, a quitter—or worse.

Those labels are false—an illogical, incomplete Hollywood illusion of mental toughness.

And that messaging needs to change.

It is a myth that blindly pushing forward through adversity is always the better choice. It presumes pressing on always produces the better result.

There’s no question. Mental toughness and coachability are important traits for competitive athletes.

But resilience and adaptability and emotional intelligence are also elements of mental toughness—having the strength and courage and...

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Life Isn't a Game of Perfect


One of the mental game classics for sport was a book written by Dr. Bob Rotella called 'Golf Is NOT A Game Of Perfect'. [1]

It was one of the first books that really helped me to understand that mistakes are going to happen, and they don't make you less worthy.

BUT... how you respond to and recover from those mistakes (or unlucky/unfair situations) matters. That's what illuminates your true character.

Sport reveals character

There's a great saying, "sport doesn't develop character, it reveals it".

It's easy to look strong when everything is going well, but not so easy when things are going wrong.

If we start to accept that there will be good times and there will be times that are trying, we can start to appreciate the good times more as the gifts they are, and understand that the times that are more trying are going to happen anyway.

We need to trust our training, focus on the process, and take the lessons that those difficult moments offer, versus...

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Motivation Meltdown? 3 Strategies From The Masters Of Mental Toughness


It’s happened again.

Your motivation has crashed in the face of overwhelming odds. You want to crawl under the covers and curl into fetal position.

What were you thinking? What made you think you could write the next Game of Thrones epic fantasy or win a world championship in dog agility?

This dream is paralyzing, out of your league.

It feels hopeless, doesn’t it?

Don’t give up.

Your dream matters.

You can get through to the other side. But you have to avoid one simple mistake.

A mistake I made recently.

Step through the barn door with me and I’ll show you…

Shearing Day

We’re ready to catch, trim the hooves, and take the wool off of 150 sheep. We fidget like thoroughbreds impatient for the start of a race.

The rusty clock on the wall strikes 7:30 a.m. sharp and the shearer plunges into the work like a man possessed.

I catch a sheep. Flip it onto its butt. Trim its hooves.

Each sheep tips the scale at around 150 pounds. It’s a full...

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How To Be A Flawed Perfectionist (Without Getting Frustrated)

Ah… the tornado of perfectionism.

The perfect golf swing. The perfect blog inspiration. The perfect puppy.

The motivational stuff tells us to strive for perfection. We might not reach perfection, but at least we get further, right?

But what about the frustration devouring you from the inside?

How do you silence the inner beast that horsewhips you to be exceptional…or else?

A magical place exists where perfectionism and peace live harmoniously.

Ready to follow the yellow brick road?

Test 1: Waiting on the wizard

Many of us wait for the perfect situation. But waiting is the most insidious form of perfectionism. Indecision paralyzes us from taking action.

Theodore Roosevelt said:

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

We never take that leap of faith when waiting for something better to happen. You might wait your entire life, and get bitter...

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How To Stop The Sabotage Cycle


You’ve done it again.

The same mistake that defeats you every time.

Why do you keep doing it? You know better.

You practice hard, you do the work.

But when you are right on the edge of a breakthrough you sabotage yourself every time.

Frustrating, isn’t it?

It’s like being in a glass cage that you bang your head against. Trapped with a monkey that keeps harassing you.

Would you like to finally get that monkey off your back and break out?

You can, you know.

Come on, make a break for freedom.


You Believe a Lie

Why the heck do you sabotage yourself anyway?

It’s so stupid, isn’t it?

Sabotage is your safety net. It’s your mechanism to stay safe and comfortable.

You have a set of beliefs about the world around you and where you belong in it.

You believe those beliefs protect you. You believe a lie.

When you step out of your comfort zone, the little “sabotage” monkey hops up on your shoulder. He whispers that you...

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How To Turn Life Around (When Everything Sucks)


No chance.

Nothing is going right. Your confidence is shaken.

You feel like a salmon swimming upstream against the current.

Do you feel like you’re fighting a losing battle? Ready to give in?

I’ve been caught in that riptide too. But I want to share some hope with you.

Professional athletes use 3 simple mind hacks that you can use to turn things around.

These hacks also work in art, business and life.

Want to know what they are?

Have you overcome something like this before?

Wimbledon. 2016 quarter-finals. Centre Court.

Tennis great Roger Federer was down 2 sets to love against the powerful 6’6 Marin Cilic.

It was match point for Cilic, who was on a roll.

Do you think Federer was thinking back to their previous match in 2014 when Cilic crushed him?


Federer focused on other times when he had come back from a two-set deficit to defeat other opponents.

“I thought of the Tommy Haas match after I saved those breakpoints, went up 4-3, I...

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Do You Need A Dream To Be Successful?

Blah, blah, blah.

Dream big dreams. Follow your passion. Change the world.

How can you possibly achieve anything without a courageous, reckless, impossible dream?

But what if you don’t have a dream? Or it’s not audacious enough?

Are you a hopeless failure?

Destined to mediocrity and insignificance?

In today’s culture, it’s as if you are flawed if you don’t have a big dream.


Even Indiana Jones didn’t start his career searching for the Lost Ark.

But how do you thrive without a big dream?

Survival as the catalyst

Very few people start with the clarity of a big dream.

We like to think of the world as a stable place. Where we have a big dream, make a plan and follow a set road to a destination. It feels safe to think that way.

But even the most carefully laid plans can go wrong.

And it’s bloody hard to pursue a dream when you’re worried about putting food on the table or a roof over your head.

Sometimes it starts with surviving.


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How Sheep Deal With Bullies (And What You Can Learn From It)

No one likes to be bullied.

Most people agree bullying is wrong. At least in principle.

When we hear stories of bullying, maybe we empathize because we’ve been bullied too. Or we wonder why someone didn’t step in, how it could happen. Perhaps we imagine we wouldn’t stand up for it, that we would be the hero of our own story against a bully.

So why does bullying happen? Why is bullying so prevalent?

Unfortunately, the truth is bullying works.

And in some small part of the human psyche, people perceive it to be leadership. Just like a dog that’s a bully can imtimidate other dogs. Some people perceive him to be an “alpha”, while the savvy dog person recognizes a barking dog is a weak dog. A reactive dog is a weak dog.

Bullying happens everywhere—the tiniest school playground, social media, the classroom, the boardroom, the halls of power.

Bullies often hold positions of authority or influence. They come in all different forms: a big kid on the...

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Stop sabotaging yourself!

Learn how to reboot your inner voice so you feel more confident and motivated with my FREE 10-Part Power Up Your Mindset Course.

Each quick lesson has immediately useful tips to help you strengthen your confidence and focus.