An Interview with Jeremy Paplinskie

Sports Psychology and Mental Training Fitness Wellness Peace to the People

As an old-soul millennial who works in marketing as a social media manager and yoga/meditation teacher pumped about the present moment and mindfulness, I get jazzed to talk about interconnectedness in the age of information and the world wide web.

The best asset about social media is the ability to connect with awesome people. 

Shocker: there are incredible gateways available to reach others all over our globe RIGHT THIS SECOND.

As individuals, we have the potential to positively influence our fellow people's psyches, attitudes, and abilities to navigate difficult emotions and experiences.

Mental Training, Sports Psychology

As a dweeb who has longed to be an author since the second grade, I am astonished and truly thrilled to be alive in this very era. 

We are monumentally alive and connected, and I have come to know some really wonderful people via platforms that could potentially be as shallow or silly as Instagram.

Water seeks its own level!

Seek depth and you will find others passionate about learning and continually growing as a human being.

An example of an awesome individual doing great work in the world is Jeremy Paplinskie, a Graduate Student at the University of Ottawa specializing in Sport and Performance Psychology Coaching.

From Columbus, Ohio I stumbled across one of his epic quotes posted from Ottawa, Canada and after seeing my site, we saw that we could work together to share similar knowledge.

I can say with full certainty that I know next to nothing about Sports Psychology, though I very much want to.

Each person brings SO much to the table and I am perpetually willing to be humbled by slews of new information!

So without further ado, here's more from Jeremy!

KS: FIRST OFF, THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR KNOWLEDGE! CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR ACADEMIC BACKGROUND AND WHAT LED YOU TO THESE STUDIES?

JP: Thank you very much for having me!

Realistically, I think it all started when I was pretty young. I loved competitive sport and was fortunate enough to compete in several sports (including basketball, soccer, hockey, and track & field) from a young age.

After deciding to stop competing, I thought about how I could transform my passion for physical activity into a career.

That led me to enrolling at the University of Ottawa (Canada) in Human Kinetics where I studied anatomy, physiology, psychology, and sociology, among others.

From there, I was introduced to two professors (and sport psychology coaches) - Dr. Diane Culver and Dr. Terry Orlick – who inspired my interest in sport psychology. So, after my undergrad, I returned to uOttawa and began my Masters.

I have completed both a 100-hour internship (in undergrad) and a 400-hour internship (in grad school), both of which focused on mental skills and sport psychology coaching.  

I’ve taught provincial/competitive/recreational-level athletes, children’s hospital patients, elementary/high school/university students, coaches, employees, people looking to become more active, and many others about how the field of sport psychology and mental skills is relevant to them.

I’m a believer in the usefulness of mental skills inside and outside of sport, so I’ve always tried to apply my practice to as many contexts as possible.


I’ve recently completed my Masters and now hope to open a private sport psychology and mental skills coaching practice. I’ll be sure to let you know more in the future!

KS: HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS SUBJECT OF STUDY TO A TOTAL NEWBIE (LIKE MYSELF)?!

JP: At its core, it’s about helping clients develop skills (“mental skills”) to optimize performance and increase personal wellbeing.

Many people spend their time and energy honing their physical skills; however, they don’t necessarily think about mental skills in the same way.

In the end, then, we hope to give people the tools to perform to the best of their ability as consistently as possible, while also finding enjoyment in what they do.

KS: HOW HAVE THESE STUDIES TRANSLATED TO YOUR OWN PLAYING OF COMPETITIVE SPORTS? 

Unfortunately, I no longer participate in competitive sport, so I can’t comment from an athlete’s perspective since completing my Masters. However, I’m a strong believer in “practicing what you preach” and so I continue to develop my own mental skills daily.

In that sense, I believe working in this field has allowed me to really embrace the present moment and to identify what allows me to perform to the best of my ability.

In the end, I still feel there are many skills that I can continue to improve but I have noticed a tremendous personal benefit from adopting mental skills training into my own life.

KS: AS A SPINNING®INSTRUCTOR, I AM FASCINATED BY THE AMOUNT OF PRESENT MOMENT AWARENESS AND MEDITATIVE MENTAL TRAINING THAT CAN BE USEFUL IN INTENSE CLASSES. 

I OFTEN SUGGEST: "DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN HOW HARD THE HILL IS AND THOUGHTS OF HOW YOU CAN'T DO IT; KEEP GOING, BREATHE, AND CLEAR YOUR MIND OF THE STORY."

CAN YOU SPEAK MORE ABOUT THE "MENTAL SKILLS" YOU HELP ATHLETES DEVELOP? 

Certainly! In my experience, some of the most popular topics that we address include: goal-setting, self-talk, positive reframing, activation/relaxation, focus/refocus, mindfulness, self-awareness, confidence, motivation, imagery, and pre-performance planning.

In practice, the list of skills that we address is quite long, but in my experience the above are the more popular mental skills.

KS: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS AND TIPS YOU CAN OFFER OTHERS?

I think a big take away for a lot of my clients is that mental skills, just like physical skills, can be taught and developed if you put in the effort.

As you develop mental skills, and feel better prepared to handle certain situations, you give yourself the opportunity to focus in-the-moment on what truly matters.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be times when you feel stressed or uncomfortable, because everyone does, but rather you will feel better equipped to work with these feelings, rather than having them work against you.

I think one simple tip that can be immensely helpful is to simply break down something you want to accomplish into smaller, and more manageable, pieces.

If we have a goal in mind, sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in the outcome that we completely ignore the small steps we’ve taken each day to get a little bit closer to our goals.

Achieving greatness doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important we keep in mind the small (but ultimately important) successes that we have in the present, rather than getting too caught up in where we want to be in the future.

KS: CAN YOU SPEAK MORE ABOUT COACHING SELF-LOVE AND POSITIVE REFRAMING?

Definitely! Self-love and positive reframing are two concepts that I really enjoy speaking about as they have significance for everyone.

I think one of the common misconceptions when talking about positive reframing is that we need to interpret every experience as wholly and completely positive. In reality, however, that’s often unrealistic.

In my opinion, positive reframing is not about merely pretending that everything is positive. 

Rather, it’s about enjoying and appreciating positive experiences, while also drawing out lessons and learning from situations that are less positive.

If we do this, we adopt a growth mindset, which can be incredibly powerful in allowing us to improve each day and progress towards our goals.

I don’t know if I can do justice to the importance of self-love through words.

In my experience, I’ve noticed many times when people simply do not give themselves credit for everything they have achieved.

When this happens, it can get us into the habit of sensationalizing negative experiences, while also completely ignoring positive ones.

In the end, I want to emphasize that everyone has times when they doubt or question themselves, and that is perfectly natural.

However, when these things happen, it’s important not to lose sight of everything positive you have experienced up to this point.

In the end, self-love influences not only who we are as individuals, but also how we interact with the world around us and with others in our lives. 

As a result, I think the importance of self-love cannot be understated and is something I definitely try to emphasize as much as possible.   

KS: WHAT TECHNIQUES DO YOU HAVE TO HELP EMPOWER OTHER PEOPLE?

I think at the foundation of any of our interventions the goal is to empower the client to think about mental skills and sport psychology in a way that is personally meaningful.

One of the things I try to avoid in my practice is a “one size fits all” kind of approach, where someone would use the exact same formula with each person.

We all bring with us a unique set of experiences and ideas, all of which should be identified and addressed with a client from day one.

As such, I think just simply approaching an intervention from the client’s perspective, maintaining an environment of empathy and understanding, and involving the client every step along the way are all ways that can help to empower someone and make them feel a greater sense of control over their current situation.

Sometimes all we need from another person – whether it’s a friend, coworker, or anyone else – is knowing that we are being listened to and understood.

Once that happens, I think empowerment comes about organically.  

KS: I'M SO INTERESTED IN COACHING THAT INNER SHIFT FROM SELF-DEPRECATION TO BEFRIENDING AND ENCOURAGING THE SELF. CAN YOU SPEAK MORE ABOUT SPARKING THIS SHIFT?

In the beginning, I think a lot of the spark you’re referring to comes down to something called “metacognition”, which is just a fancy way of saying ‘thinking about what you are thinking about’.

Many people have these self-defeating thoughts that occur every day, but many of us don’t take the time to identify them and to ask whether or not they actually serve a purpose.

It’s important to realize that our thoughts do not define us, they are simply thoughts.

I believe once this process of metacognition begins, people can start to develop a habit of recognizing self-defeating thoughts, and then slowly bringing their awareness back to the present.

Ultimately, it’s not about forcing yourself to eliminate these thoughts, but rather it’s about acknowledging the fact that these thoughts do not have a constructive purpose and then allowing them to pass by naturally.

KS: I'VE BEEN TO TORONTO AND NIAGARA FALLS AS A KID, BUT OTHERWISE HAVEN'T SEEN OR KNOWN MUCH ABOUT CANADA. WHAT IS OTTAWA LIKE FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE? 

It’s funny, when I first moved to Ottawa for school I really didn’t give myself much of an opportunity to explore the city and really enjoy it. After that first year, I started to branch out and began to appreciate all the city has to offer.

In the summer the city is loaded with things to do: great restaurants and cafes, several malls and shopping districts, cycling/walking trails throughout the entire city, as well as areas nearby that are very quiet and serene – which I appreciate having grown up in a smaller town.

In the winter, we have the Rideau Canal, which is turned into a ~5 mile skating rink.

It’s a really unique area in my mind that has a lot to offer and I really have appreciated the opportunity to live here for the past 7 years.

KS: WHERE WERE YOU BORN AND RAISED? 

I grew up in a town west of Ottawa called Barry’s Bay. It’s a small, tight-knit, community in an area known as the Ottawa valley and has a population of about 1200 people.

We live next to Algonquin Provincial Park, the oldest provincial park in Canada, so there are many campgrounds, hiking trails, and areas with beautiful scenery and wildlife right in our back yard.

KS: WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR GREATEST INSPIRATIONS AND TEACHERS IN LIFE?

I have so many people who inspire and teach me to this day that I could take up your entire day speaking about how meaningful they have been to me.

First and foremost I need to say my family. I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where I was always supported.

My family played a massive role in helping me to become the person that I am today, and for that I am forever thankful.

Second, I have many role models in academia that have also supported me through everything.

Some people I would like to mention specifically include Dr. Diane Culver, Dr. Natalie Durand-Bush, and Dr. Terry Orlick.

As well, a huge thank you to my Master’s classmates, who were all incredibly helpful in allowing me to adapt to being a graduate student and really helped me to enjoy my grad school experience.

Finally, I also have a number of close friends who have always been there for me and have given me the confidence to stay on the path I am currently on.  

KS: YOUR FAVORITE QUOTES?! 

Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success
— Arianna Huffington
Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can.
— John Wooden
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
The chief beauty about time is that you cannot waste it in advance.
— Arnold Bennett
Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is usually more important than the outcome.”
— Arthur Ashe

KS: FAVORITE MUSIC, BANDS, SONGS, PLAYLISTS, ETC.?

This is such a difficult question for me to answer, to be completely honest. I listen to pretty much anything and everything and what I’m listening to at any one time is completely dependent on how I am feeling or what I am doing.

I’ll still try to answer by giving you some of the songs on the playlist I’ve been listening to recently.

  • Antarctica by Hands Like Houses
  • Sure by Emarosa
  • Ghosts by Jacob TIllberg
  • Beam Me Up by Cazzette
  • Dreamer by I the Mighty
  • Autograf by Metaphysical (feat. Janelle Kroll)
  • I’d Love to Break it to You by NateWantsToBattle
  • Say You Won’t Let Go by James Arthur
  • Pieces by Rob Thomas
  • Dreaming by Smallpools
  • Mr. Man by Stephen
  • Come Back Home by Lauv

KS: ANY BOOKS YOU ABSOLUTELY LOVE?

  • Open Heart, Open Mind by Clara Hughes
  • The Psychology of Enhancing Human Performance: The Mindfulness-Acceptance-Commitment (MAC) Approach by Frank Gardner and Zella Moore
  • Bleeding Blue: Giving my All for the Game by Wendel Clark
  • In Pursuit of Excellence – How to Win in Sport and Life through Mental Training by Terry Orlick
  • Embracing Your Potential by Terry Orlick

KS: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE THINGS IN THE WORLD? THE THINGS THAT BRING YOU GREAT JOY?

Such a great question. Looking back I have so many things that I am grateful for and which bring me the most joy.

At the front again are my family and friends. No matter what I have decided to do in my life, I have always been able to rely upon the full support of those closest to me.

Being in the sport psychology and mental performance field has also given me the opportunity to meet and work alongside many amazing people who have all had an immensely positive impact on my life.

In addition to that I also have several things that bring me much joy, including: being outdoors, listening to music, cycling, golfing, basketball, hockey, going for walks, photography, and watching movies or YouTube videos.

Honestly, I’m very grateful for a lot of the things I have been afforded thus far in my life and appreciate every single one of them.

Kelli Schaffter

Peace to the People, LLC, Columbus, Ohio