IMG Academy's Greg Young: "Don't be scared to talk about the mental game"

Greg Young, 04 May 2023


The very best footballers are often said to have a "mental edge" over their peers. At the IMG Academy, staff focus their attention on this attribute, and look to develop it in their students en masse.

Greg Young is the Manager of IMG+ and Coaching and Development at the IMG Academy, one of the United States' top institutions for developing elite sporting talent. His previous role at IMG was Assistant Head of Mental Conditioning, where he helped deliver the academy's mental conditioning programme, a unique initiative that sets IMG apart from other institutions of its kind. In this interview with the FIFA Training Centre, Young delves into the detail of his current role, and explains the thinking behind the academy's strong emphasis on mental conditioning.

Some of the core aims of the IMG Academy's mental conditioning programme are:

  • Creating performance plans for teams and individuals to develop their mental performance alongside their technical skills;

  • Promoting discussion between athletes and coaches about the mental demands of sport;

  • Providing psychological tools athletes can use to their advantage when the pressure mounts.

Watch interview

Part 1: Young's current and previous role
Part 2: Mental conditioning at the IMG Academy

Read summary

Part 1: Young's current and previous role

IMG+ is the digital extension of the IMG Academy. As its manager, Young helps bring the academy's expertise to its students using digital formats – wherever those students may be. The project currently provides online training on mental conditioning and nutrition to IMG's aspiring athletes. 

The IMG Academy's emphasis on mental conditioning is one of the key factors that sets it apart from its competitors. In his previous role as Assistant Head of Mental Conditioning, Young was at the heart of IMG's unique mental conditioning programme, designed to help players reach their full potential. To deliver the programme, Young worked in concert with mental conditioning coaches across all the individual disciplines the academy offers, including soccer.

Part 2: Mental conditioning at the IMG Academy 
In the second part of the interview, Young explains how the academy uses tailored performance plans to optimise their students' mental performance. These plans are based on a thorough information collection process encompassing athlete questionnaires, discussions with the coaches working with individual athletes, and Young's own observations of the athletes in competitive environments, and culminate in long-term training plans athletes can implement to develop their mental prowess. To finish the interview, Young reveals his top tips for athletes looking to improve their mental game.

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