By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gameday for the Minnesota Vikings is the product of practice and mental practice.

Cindra Kamphoff understands. A marathon runner with her PHD, she helps counsel athletes on the mental side, including members of the Vikings.

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What is it she observes about those that get to the NFL?

“Your inner A.P.E. — your attitude, your preparation, your effort. And that’s what the best do. Also the best know themselves very, very well. And what I mean by that it they know what buttons get them pushed,” Kamphoff said.

She uses her own system, working with the Minnesota State Mankato teams, with metaphors from a toilet and a tool box to illustrate lessons to stay in the moment.

“I think the most important thing is teaching them how to say in the moment more often,” she said. “And when you think about the negative emotions that we can experience in the past, it’s like regret, depression, frustration. In the future it’s like fear, anxiety. But your best only happens in the moment.”

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She just authored a book, “Beyond Grit,” where she encourages growth for athletes with a daily ritual.

“You’re the only person getting in your way, and what I mean by that is when you really step out of your comfort zone into your courage zone. Something I talk quite a bit about and I practice every day is to do something every day that scares me,” Kamphoff said.

The foreword is written by someone she has known since college. Adam Thielen bucked the odds and made it big in the NFL, in large part because of his mental approach.

“In the book he talks quite a bit about the mental strategies he used. And one of the things he talked quite a bit about in the foreword is just the importance of taking it one play at a time and one day at a time,” Kamphoff said.

Because when a game is on the line, you never want the moment to get too big.

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“I think in those moments you don’t have to be more than you are,” Kamphoff said. “And in terms of how to deal with pressure, the key is to work to be your best, and tour best is good enough for that moment.”

Mike Max