How National Championship Winning QB Harnessed the Power of Mental Skills

09 Jan 2024
4 min read
Authors – Vedika Jogani & Ryan Miller

A recent graduate from Ithaca College with a Master’s degree in Sports and Exercise Science, specializing in Mental Performance, Vedika Jogani is OMP’s Product and Content Manager.

Ryan Miller is an award-winning content creator and Head of Content for OMP,

When Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy held the National Championship trophy aloft in Houston on Monday night, it wasn’t the first time he’d done so.  

Sure, McCarthy had not won a College Football National Championship before this year, but he’d seen himself doing it before, inside his own mind using the power of visualization. 

A key player for the Wolverines throughout their campaign, McCarthy was again influential in the 34 to 14 win over the Washington Huskies, the college’s first since 1997. 

In the lead up to the game McCarthy shed light on the pivotal role mental skills such as visualization and meditation has played in unlocking his peak performance. 

McCarthy revealed that he incorporates visualization into his daily routine, with a unique twist: every morning while brushing his teeth, he envisaged himself proudly hoisting the national championship trophy.  

Scientific studies underscore the potency of visualization as a performance-enhancing tool, fostering athlete composure and adaptability under pressure.  

The subconscious processes these visualizations in real time, igniting neurons and contributing to success on the field.  

McCarthy’s disciplined commitment to visualization played a crucial role in turning his dream into a reality, propelling his team to clinch the title of national champion. 

McCarthy meditating before the National Championship game.

In addition to his adept use of visualization, McCarthy adopts a serene pre-game ritual.  

Two hours before kickoff, he can be found on the field, sitting cross-legged with his back against a padded goalpost, hands clasped in his lap, and eyes closed – engaging in meditation.  

“Taking it day by day, and making sure that I keep up with the discipline of my meditation,” he said in November. 

“It’s a great centering piece for me. A lot of guys around the program do it, too, and it does a lot for them as well.”  

McCarthy acknowledged how meditation has not only enhanced his athletic performance but has also become a crucial component of his mental health and overall well-being.  

“I was going through my first depression,” he said. 

“I was obsessed with trying to find ways to improve my mental health and improve my overall well-being. Meditation was one of the biggest things that kept popping up. So, I was like, ’Let’s give this a try.”  

Initially turning to meditation during a challenging period of depression, he now dedicates 20 to 30 minutes each morning to the practice, extending it to 10 to 15 minutes on game days. 

Research substantiates the positive impact of meditation, revealing its ability to reduce competition-related stress and facilitate athletes in reaching the coveted “zone.” J.J McCarthy’s intentional use of mental skills, blending visualization and meditation, undoubtedly contributed to his outstanding performance and the 27-year-awaited triumph, with his team proudly lifting the championship trophy. 



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