Origin Story

Throughout my professional and athletic career, I’ve always been passionate about helping others perform at a high-level.
  • Leading soldiers in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army attack helicopter pilot
  • Developing cadets as an Academy Professor and directing the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point
  • Coaching Division-I athletes as an assistant coach on the Army baseball team
  • Developing top students and Division-I athletes at Seton Hall University as part of the Buccino Leadership Institute
  • Coaching as an assistant coach on the Manasquan High School football team
  • Coaching students and professionals as an ICF-certified leadership coach

Do you know what I've learned? Natural talent will only take you so far - if you want to perform at the highest levels, if you want to maximize your potential, you must have top mental game.

And yet, while there are no shortage of personal trainers and coaching specialists who will make you bigger, faster, and stronger, there are no coaches in the area that focus on the mental side. None.

That bothered me, but what got me more excited about this opportunity was when I became a certified leadership coach as part of my duties as the Founding Director of the Buccino Leadership Institute at Seton Hall University. This training allowed me to coach students and professionals in a variety of fields to become the best versions of themselves and to take their careers to the next level. This training opened my eyes to the power of coaching and what it can do for my clients.

And that's when I decided to create Top Mental Game.

My Approach

Top Mental Game capitalizes on two powerful trends to get results and maximize the potential of my clients.
  • Professional Coaching - I am a co-active partner with my clients to better understand their strengths, weaknesses, and goals. I teach them how to set goals, break through barriers, and become the best versions of themselves.
  • Mental Skills Training - I provide my clients with the same techniques given to professional and Olympic athletes and our military's elite special forces to perform at their best when it counts the most. These include using cutting-edge biometric software, visualization and imagery exercises, and the latest in sports psychology.

Not only are there no organizations providing mental skills training to athletes in the Jersey Shore area, but I don't know of ANY coaches who are combining certified professional coaching with mental skills training.

My goal is to use this combination to give my clients the tools they need to achieve success on and off the field.

Crucible moment
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My Background

I grew up as an under-sized athlete in Sea Girt, NJ. As a 3-sport starter in football, basketball, and baseball at Manasquan High School, I was fortunate enough to garner All-Shore honors in both football and baseball, and All-State honors in baseball.

I was recruited to play baseball at West Point, serving as the starting second baseman for 3 years and co-captaining the team as a senior. In addition to garnering All-Patriot League honors three times, I was voted the Patriot League Tournament MVP and earned All-Division I Northeast honors (2B) in 1997. After graduating, I was named to the Patriot League All-Decade Team.

From 1998-2018, I served as an officer in the United States Army, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. For the first half of my career, I flew the Army's premier attack helicopter, the AH-64D Apache Longbow, including over 33 months in company command. In the second half, I earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and served as an Academy Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy.

From 2012-2018, I ran the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, where I frequently briefed the nation's top counterterrorism officials, including the Secretary of Defense, two CIA Directors, and numerous 4-star combatant commanders. In 2016, I was invited to testify in front of Congress on the lessons learned since 9/11. My military career included combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

As a faculty member at West Point, I served as an assistant coach on the baseball team, and later as the team’s Head Officer Representative. It was at West Point where I was exposed to the Center for Enhanced Performance, an organization that worked with the Army's Division-I and Olympic athletes. My exposure to the Center for Enhanced Performance sparked me to earn a graduate certificate in Sports Psychology in 2018.

After retiring from the military in 2018, I became the founding director of the Buccino Leadership Institute at Seton Hall, a university-wide leadership program that develops high-performing student leaders in a variety of disciplines and industries.

I started Top Mental Game in 2019 to give my clients in sports and business the coaching and mental skills needed to become elite performers.

ULC
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©2018 Michael Paras Photography, LLC

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