Performance Sessions

This collection of focus sessions, developed from the extensive work with the national championship-winning NAU Track and Field team and the Hoka One One NAZ Elite team, was born out of a desire to help athletes strengthen their ability to focus by introducing meditation and visualization exercises in a brief and engaging way. The sessions present a wide variety of strategies so that athletes can select the strategies that apply best to them as individuals and develop a more personalized practice over time.

We consider the performance sessions to be a collection rather than a curriculum as, eventually, the order of the sessions can be interchanged to suit each athlete and team. That said, as athletes first begin to work their way through the collection, we recommend that you follow them in order as each session does build on the last and there are factors influencing the order with which they are presented to teams for maximum effectiveness.

Tips for Coaches

  • Make focus session time important and yet relaxing. Give it the same kind of value that you would a gym session.
  • Attend the session with your athletes. When your athletes witness your commitment to this work they will feel more committed themselves and everyone will get greater value from the sessions.
  • These sessions are conducted weekly with most teams during normal times but, during COVID, this could be increased to two sessions per week, using a performance session for one and an uncertainty session for another.

Tips for Athletes

  • If you decide you would like to develop a regular practice try to be consistent and disciplined in your frequency. Very importantly, if your consistency is a struggle at first remain kind to yourself. Your relationship with meditation and visualization should remain friendly.
  • Choose a time and place where you are most likely to remember to practice and would enjoy doing so.
  • The most important thing for strengthening your ability to focus is practicing doing so daily. As long as you attempt to remain focused on the exercise, you are strengthening your ability to focus no matter what meditation you choose.
  • To practice in your mind: Visualizations 2-3x per week
  • To reduce anxiety: Breath Meditations, 5 Senses, The Thought River, Thinking Exercises
  • To work with difficult emotions: Tonglen, Breath Meditations, Rebalancing
  • To cultivate positive emotion: Loving Kindness, Savoring, Gratitude, Visualizations

Uncertainty Sessions

The Training In Uncertainty collection are new sessions developed specifically to cope with the unique stressors associated with the pandemic, and to help athletes become more calm, present and focused during the present period of uncertainty. They can also legitimately be viewed as performance-enhancing exercises as the most common ability we witness among the elite runners we work with is their ability to be present in the moment. Those who recognize the opportunity in the current era of uncertainty, and consciously practice greater presence, are sure to have a performance advantage over those who do not. Unlike the order associated with the Performance Sessions, these sessions are independent from one another and can be viewed effectively in any order.

More Gold

This ever growing content will feature conversations with top athletes on highly relevant topics. We will begin with Kim Conley’s moving story of the personal and professional challenges she faced during the 2016 Olympic year. And coming soon, Dani Shanahan will walk through developing a mental performance plan with you, Tyler Day will explain his process of dialing in his focus for races, and Lauren Paquette will share her story about dealing with long-term injury. These videos are just the beginning of a series that will provide you with helpful info for your running.
Finally, for more information on how to best use these sessions, or for personal sport psychology consultations to help you get the most out of your running, feel free to reach out to Shannon Thompson.



HYPO2’s focus sessions have been a pivotal part of NAU cross-country’s success over the years. The night before the National Championship there is no one I would have addressing our team other than Shannon Thompson. She brings sincerity and wisdom with a modern touch to the field of mental performance. And this has unlocked the potential of so many of our athletes. I consider Shannon Thompson one of our most influential coaches and her focus sessions some of our most crucial training in our week.

~ Mike Smith, Director of Track & Field, Northern Arizona University ~