HEADSTRONG

Brian Levenson believes mental strength unlocks an athlete's potential

Brian Levenson believes mental strength unlocks an athlete's potential

This article is a part of HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports, NBC Sports multi-platform initiative on mental health and men's health. NBC Sports Washington will be releasing a series of original short-form features that are all available at nbcsportswashington.com/headstrong

NBC Sports Washington’s "HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports" documentary explores the stigma surrounding mental health, featuring athletes opening up about being more comfortable and honest about mental and emotional struggles. 

Often when one thinks of an athlete preparing for a game or match, they only consider the physical and technical training that is required. However, mental training is just as important, if not more. 

“The mental is what unlocks potential,” said Mental Performance Coach Brian Levenson.

Levenson works closely with athletes on the mental side of performance. Levenson has worked with a wide range of athletes in amateur, high school, college, and professional sports including D.C. United. 

Athletes are humans too, they have their own issues. 

Levenson has developed an innovative program, CORE Mental Training, to help athletes maximize their mindset and potential. In order to help the players get into a good mental space, Levenson helps them create systems, routines and habits that they can become familiar with. 

“This should be something that we’re all working on. We’re all looking to be our best selves and why wouldn’t we work on our mindset and set our mind to be the best we can possibly be to perform at the level that we need to be at.” 

However, mental health is a topic that typically gets overlooked and Levenson is working to foster the discussion among all athletes regardless of the sport. 

How to watch NBC Sports' 'HeadStrong' documentary

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NBC Sports Network

How to watch NBC Sports' 'HeadStrong' documentary

This article and the documentary described is a part of HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports, NBC Sports' multi-platform initiative on mental health and men's health. NBC Sports Washington will be releasing a series of original short-form features that are all available at nbcsportswashington.com/headstrong.

As a part of its campaign to address mental health and men's health in the world of athletics, NBC Sports has been running stories and airing videos shining a light on sports figures who have dealt with various mental health issues, both on and off the field.

This initiative has been leading to a documentary, HeadStrong, which is airing Wednesday, November 27 at 10:30 p.m. after Wednesday Night Hockey. The documentary features stories from Justice Winslow of the Miami Heat, Hayden Hurst of the Baltimore Ravens, Nathan Braaten, formerly of Oregon State soccer, and Clint Malarchuk, a former NHL goalie.

This effort has spanned a variety of both sports and players, including a Wizards' doctor, an all-time great Redskin, a local player gone on to the NBA and a former top-five NFL draft pick. Each story has served to shed light on some of the issues athletes at all levels have to face, and the individuals involved have done their best to help fellow athletes cope with their own mental health struggles.

HOW TO WATCH HeadStrong DOCUMENTARY

What: HeadStrong documentary

When: Wednesday, November 27 at 10:30 p.m. (after Wednesday Night Hockey)

Where: NBC Sports Network (channel finder)

MORE HEADSTRONG STORIES:

Headstrong: Bradley Beal opens up about 'Couvade Syndrome'

Headstrong: Bradley Beal opens up about 'Couvade Syndrome'

Carrying the burden of being a franchise cornerstone is extremely difficult. Doing so while welcoming two children in two years is another layer of tough.

Washington Wizards shooting guard, Bradley Beal, was the 11th player in NBA history to average 25 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists last season - the only player in franchise history. While the on-court success featured scoring in bunches and all-around production, what fans didn’t see was the internal struggles Beal had during the offseason. 

“For the last two seasons I’ve suffered from Couvade Syndrome,” Beal told NBC Sports Washington as part of the Headstrong series. “Also called sympathetic pregnancy. A proposed condition in which a partner experiences the same symptoms and behavior as the expectant mother.:

Beal said he dealt with many of the same symptoms that his partner, Kamiah Adams, had during her pregnancy. 

“The biggest one I noticed was my weight. I gained about 12-15 pounds,” Beal said. “Coach [Scott] Brooks used to make fun of me and say my uniform was fitting a little tighter, and not in a good way.”

“I was up at 3, 4 o clock in the morning eating ice cream when I shouldn’t have been eating ice cream,” Beal continued. “That’s all because momma was pregnant and I had the exact same symptoms. I was craving stuff that I never had the desire to eat before.”

Six weeks after the birth of Bradley Beal II, Brad and Adams were pregnant with their second child, Braylon Beal. Although the symptoms oftentimes left Beal mentally, physically and emotionally drained, he wouldn’t trade the blessing of two sons for anything in this world.

“I love my kids to death. I honestly never thought you could love anything as much as your kids,” Beal said.

“I love my boys, I love my wife, I love my life.”