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    HomeEmpowermentAgustina De Giovanni: Healthy Mind.

    Agustina De Giovanni: Healthy Mind.

    Agustina De Giovanni, former Argentine Olympic swimmer, faced a transformation after her retirement that led her to become a mental coach. She became the first mental coach in the history of Major League Soccer (MLS) in the United States and founded ADG Mental Performance. An inspiring story. 

    When we talk about Women Who Inspire, Agustina De Giovanni quickly comes to mind. For those who are not familiar with her yet, this Argentine was a 12-time national swimming champion and participated in the Olympic Games in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. As the youngest sibling, Agus trained at Regatas de Santa Fe, in a sport that was not only solitary but also had little support in Argentina, especially during those years. Her great strength, from a youthful age, was her mind. With time and a retirement that leaves a mark on any athlete, Agustina understood that her future lay in that direction: she founded her own company ADG Mental Coach, became the first mental coach in MLS in the United States, and today works with teams and athletes at the highest level globally. 

    “The older I get, the more I realize how difficult it was and the price one pays afterward, the pressure and the hours we swam. Not knowing, the lack of training in certain things makes you have no idea what you are doing or where you are getting into. I would not change it for anything, I would do it again, but it is lonely, and you must be strong,” says De Giovanni, recalling her beginnings. 

    How did you get into swimming? 

    I started late, at 9 years old, I am the youngest of three siblings, and we were all tall. They played volleyball and basketball, and I always leaned towards individual sports… A friend chose swimming, and I joined because I wanted to swim with her, but instead of enrolling me in the same club as her, my mom signed me up at Regatas de Santa Fe. And I loved it! I had a lot of energy and being in the water calmed me down a lot because I arrived tired. At 11, I changed coaches, and everything happened organically, I was doing well, I liked it, at 12 I started swimming twice a day, it was more for fun… at 14, a coach from the United States told me I had chances to go abroad, and I loved studying, and I thought it was great to combine both things. 

    How would you describe the feeling of participating in the Olympic Games, the dream of every athlete? 

    I never had the sensation of goosebumps so much before. I felt like here we are, 15 thousand crazy people who understand each other. When you are a kid, you wonder if you are weird… and in an Olympic Village, there are all the athletes you want to see, we speak the same language, and you realize that you are not that crazy. It is better than what they tell you, but you must be there. The hard part is that adrenaline you have for two weeks, it does not repeat afterward. But the most beautiful thing is what it leaves you for the rest of your life.

     

    Looking back now, after so much sacrifice, do you agree that what you strengthened the most was not only your winning mentality but also your survival mentality? 

    All sports are mental, but swimming is one of the few sports where you are immersed, you cannot talk or listen… It is the only sport where you do not have contact with another person for a long time, and that is why it becomes a super mental sport. 

    How was that key moment for any professional athlete, which is retirement? And your transformation or search until becoming the Founder and CEO of ADG Mental Performance… 

    I retired consciously and not forced, I left the sport, and the sport did not leave me. But it is complex, I had a degree, a language, a job in two weeks in the United States… it was all there, but you do not know who you are. Think that I was swimming for 8 hours, sleeping for 8 hours, going to college… you do not have time to ask yourself who you are. You must go through the grieving process. It is a change of identity, it is an acceptance that your athlete’s side will no longer be there, and you must fill it with something else. 

    I started with mental coaching because of a football coach who was at the University of Alabama, he is a legend there. He arrived just when the Alabama team, which had always been a powerhouse, was at a low level. And I saw how from the mental side, he managed to change from the head of the university’s president or dean to the students, the families… One person, with a team behind him, managed to make a transformation. Seeing him, I understood the impact the mind can have. I studied there, but first I did it for myself, for my work… until I started asking myself questions about retirement, and because of my style of taking initiative, I found the career and leaned towards this side, always putting the human before everything. 

    Technology increasingly accompanies athletes, providing data that is of excellent value to themselves, coaches, teams… But what about the mind, which is as important (or more) as the physical part… is it being worked on by teams, increasingly or not? 

    If you ask anyone today what the influence between the mental and physical percentage is in the outcome of a game or competition, everyone agrees that more than 90% has to do with the mental aspect. And what is invested in mental preparation is less than 10%. There are many strategies, but the first thing to do is to organize personal hygiene: how you are eating, sleeping, how you are thinking, these are trivial things, but they are the starting point to begin training. You must bring a personal goal to each day of training or work. That makes each one able to enhance themselves, and that enhances the team. If everyone is giving their best version, the whole is enhanced. 

    You work, among others, with the now most well-known soccer team in Miami, DC United, and the best rugby team in the world! What do you bring to top-level teams or athletes? 

    My career in MLS started at DC United, I was there for 3 years. MLS did not have a mental coach and thanks to the fact that the general manager was a woman, she decided to break that barrier. I was the first mental coach in the history of MLS, including men and women. I do a lot of one-on-one sessions, and I work with many teams, but the information and training are confidential, so I respect that relationship of trust which is the most beautiful. How did I get there? Knocking on doors, showing that it worked, I worked for free for a long time, it was breaking a barrier in MLS that did not exist. 

    Any inspiring quote you want to leave us all? 

    You must be in control of yourself before you can control your performance. Mentally strong people always maintain control of themselves. 

    Do you consider yourself an inspiring woman? Why? 

    I hope to be an inspiring woman. I have had a tough time being a woman many times, but you must move away from that place. If you are convinced of something, if it is genuine and it is what you want, you must do it anyway. 

    MENTAL TRAINING TOOLS FOR EVERYDAY LIFE 

    • ELIMINATE JUDGMENTS: Do not take anything as good or bad, replace judgment with this question: Does what I am doing bring me closer to my goal, to who I want to be, or does it move me away? In other words, does it add or subtract from me? 
    • 100% EFFORT: In everything you set out to do/face, give it your 100%. Keeping in mind that sometimes that 100% can be a 5 out of 10 and another day it can be a 9 out of 10. The important thing is consistency in doing with this type of effort and in fulfilling what you said you were going to do. 
    • BE CONSISTENT: Do what you said you were going to do. Let what you think, say, and do be linear, coincide. 
    • DO A LITTLE DAY, RATHER THAN A LOT ONCE IN A WHILE: Consistency in a task is more important than the amount of time you invest in it sometimes. 
    • DON’T ENTER THE COMPARISON GAME: Do not compare yourself to anyone, not even a colleague or peer. Your path is yours, you will go at the pace of your system, your personality, your mind, and emotions. Entering the comparison game only delays you and damages your confidence. Strive to know what you want and to seek it. Let the rest do what they choose to do.

    Who is Agustina? 

    Nickname: Agu, Agus. 

    Profession: Mental Coach. 

    Position: Founder. 

    Zodiac sign: Cancer, with Scorpio rising. 

    Where do you live? Between 6 and 8 months in Miami, also in Argentina. 

    Favorite food: Crispy sweetbreads. 

    Age: 38. 

    Hobbies: Training, swimming, reading, painting mandalas. 

    Let’s Rock: 

    If your life were a rock song, what would the title be? “Agua,” by Los Piojos. 

    How would you describe yourself in one word? Human. 

    Favorite movie or TV Show: Friends and About Time. 

    If you could have a conversation with any historical female figure, living or deceased, who would you choose? Oprah Winfrey (Journalist and TV host). 

    Favorite athlete in history: Excluding Messi, Michael Phelps. I also admire the woman for what she does for mental health. He is chronically depressed, they openly talk about it, she is pregnant with their fourth child. She talks to the children when their father is not well; they say things we used to hide. They have a foundation that helps a lot. [Link to Michael Phelps Foundation: https://michaelphelpsfoundation.org/

    Keyword to describe your leadership style?: Human. 

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