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Conner authors mental training book

Former Panther plans sequel for coaches, parents

The cover of Trevor Conner's new book, published by his Houston-based counseling company, Hearts & Minds, LLC.
The cover of Trevor Conner's new book, published by his Houston-based counseling company, Hearts & Minds, LLC.

“How good do you want to be?”

That’s the fundamental question mental conditioning coach Trevor Conner asks athletes, soldiers and business executives he meets in his private consulting business, Hearts & Minds, LLC.

Now based in Houston, Texas, the Creston native can add the term “author” to his resume. On June 9, his sports psychology book, “Just ACE It!: Controlling Life’s Uncontrollables,” was released.

The 222-page book was published by his company, Hearts & Minds, LLC. It is available on Amazon.com and will soon be available online through other retailers, he said, such as Barnes & Noble and Target. List price varies by demand from day to day, but recently the paperback version was listed at $12.49. The Kindle version can be purchased for $7.99.

Shortly after the book’s release, it rose to No. 39 on Amazon’s best seller list for the sports psychology category, and it was in the top 20 for five straight days.

The book is designed for athletes in the age range of 14 to 22, basically adolescents through college. The A.C.E. acronym stands for the emphasis on attitude, concentration and effort in practice and competition. Those are examples of what an individual can control, Conner explains.

“Being in the field of mental conditioning and performance for seven or eight years, I keep coming back to the very basic principle of the training I’ve done with athletes and military special forces I’ve worked with,” said Conner, 31, a former baseball player at Northwest Missouri State University. “So, I began to write a book. It’s a daunting process.”

Conner said the idea to put some of those training techniques for personal improvement into book form goes back to the summer of 2013.

“I was working at the Spire Institute in Ohio,” Conner said. “It’s a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site. I saw the impact (the training) had with a completely different population set. I sat down at a keyboard out there and started writing. I’d walk away from it and come back. I’m comfortable speaking to groups about our different ideas and analogies, but not so much as a writer.”

What Conner now calls “divine intervention” occurred last summer as the book project took off.

“I needed to get serious about it, and someone on Linked In reached out to me,” Conner explained. “It was from createnonfiction.com. They specialize as a third-party ghostwriter and producer of books. They contract with people throughout the entire book-writing process. They are looking for entrepreneurs and industry experts.”

Conner and other authors working with createnonfiction.com pay a fee up front for the development assistance, and then the author, in this example of self-publishing, retains ownership. Conner receives 40 percent of the royalties through each Amazon.com sale.

It is a file-to-print service through Amazon and other retailers, with printing and binding ($3.80 per book built into the book’s value) occurring only at the point of sale. There is no minimum stock quantity required, which differs from arrangements with a publishing company.

Conner worked with a book developer last summer, and then an interviewer for nearly eight weeks. Transcriptions of those conversations, which followed the outline from the collaboration of Conner and the developer, became the bulk of the book. Nearly every word of the book is from Conner’s voice, with some writing “tweaks” from company writers. His final edits became the manuscript.

The message of the book is in many respects related to the training that was led by Conner in a session at Stanton High School in December 2017 and another last summer in Creston and Stanton by Conner and longtime P3 Performance partner, Michael Hatfield, who is now based in California.

In book form, however, there are many anecdotes about how the process has aided athletes, soldiers and business leaders, as well as more detail in how mental training tips can aid in consistent performance improvements. Conner helps his target audience focus on what really matters, and to dismiss those factors in which an individual has no control.

“We have always desired control and autonomy,” Conner said. “Like it or not, we’re really in control of so little. What we can control is our attitude, concentration and effort, not the outcome. The most consistent performers are practicing these things on a daily basis.”

The goal was 175 pages for the book, and the rough draft from the recorded interviews totaled 372 pages. The plan was adjusted into a second book slated for release late this year, “Just ACE It: For Parents and Coaches.” The work on a final one about “Living a Biblically ACE Life” will begin next year. A workbook will be produced in conjunction with the message to parents and coaches.

“I originally included a tip for coaches or parents at the end of every chapter,” Conner said. “But some were extended to a length almost as long as the chapter itself. We had so much content, we realized we already had enough for a second book.”

Conner worked with a marketing person to reach out to universities where he had led mental training events, as well as an email campaign with many of those athletes, coaches and businesses where he had implemented these mental training principles.

Some reviews have already been posted from Amazon sales. Tash Sethi wrote: “The ACE model is superb and definitely works. It’s time tested and well put together with clarity.”

K. Sutton wrote: “A completely fresh take on the insights of knowing what you can’t and can control. ACE can help change old habits and create new opportunities for everyone...thoroughly impressed with this book.”

Those comments echo the original purpose of the book, Conner notes.

“I just want people to realize, that no matter where you are at, you don’t have to settle for being average or mediocre,” Conner said. “You can do so much with your mental attitude! I am pretty direct in my message and come across pretty strong, but it comes from a deep compassion for the training I’ve had. I’m serious about the opportunity for people to change their lives!”

Conner can be reached by email at tconnermc2@gmail.com. His company’s website is heartsmindsperform.com.

About the author

Trevor Conner was a three-sport all-state athlete for Creston High School, graduating in 2006.
Conner was one of three Panthers who shared the honor of Outstanding Male Athlete from the class of 2006, joined by Dane Wardenburg and G.G. Harris.
Conner played baseball at NCAA Division II Northwest Missouri State University, where he was a three-year starter in center and left field. He holds a master's degree in guidance counseling from the university.
Conner has worked with some of the world's most elite athletes and teams at two of the United States Olympic training facilities. He has personally trained 42 Olympians, dozens of professionals and thousands of high school and collegiate athletes in a variety of sports.
Conner also has experience in working with U.S. Navy SPECWAR groups, a division of Navy Special Operations. A portion of his training pertains to handling adversity, which is part of the special forces' training in the concepts of adapt-improvise-overcome.
Trevor lives in Houston, Texas, with wife Erica and 3-year-old son Gabriel.
He is the owner of Hearts & Minds, LLC, a private consulting and coaching business. He also serves as vice president of P3 Performance, and is a member of the Limitless Minds team that includes Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his family.
A motto of Conner's training in positive psychology is: "You don't have to be sick to get better!"
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