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The Playmaker's Advantage

How to Raise Your Mental Game to the Next Level

Discover how to improve your mental game—the next frontier in sports training—no matter your age or experience and become the Playmaker or the decisive general on the court or field.

Coaches search for it. Parents dream of it. Fans love it. Athletes want it.

The Playmaker on any sports team possesses it: an elusive, intangible quality combining anticipation, perception, and decision-making skills. This quality raises their game above the competition and allows them to pass when no one else can, anticipate the movement of opponents, and avoid costly mental mistakes, thus holding the team together.

Using today’s technology and tools, it is now possible to understand, assess, and train this sixth sense rather than just hope it magically appears. Now, for the first time, cognitive science research is revealing the secrets of the Playmaker’s keen sense of awareness. Just as tests of speed, strength, and agility have provided a baseline of physiological biomarkers, coaches can now capture cognitive metrics including attention, pattern recognition, anticipation, and the ability to take quick, decisive action during the chaos of competition.

The Playmaker’s Advantage is a groundbreaking book that will educate athletes of all ages about this essential creative capability in an accessible, easy to understand method.

Leonard Zaichkowsky, a professor, researcher, and consultant for almost four decades at Boston University, pioneered sports psychology by bringing cognitive neuroscience and sports performance together as an interdisciplinary science. His academic textbooks and research publications demonstrated the importance of an athlete’s remarkable brain in anticipating and acting on opportunities during competition. He has consulted with teams in the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB, Australian Rules Football, the Spanish men’s national soccer team, and Olympic sports organizations around the world. Len is a former president and a fellow of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, and currently section editor on psychology for the International Journal of Health, Sport and Science. Recently, the American Psychological Association honored Len with the “Distinguished Service to the Profession” award. Today, Len is a cofounder and senior consultant at 80 Percent Mental Consulting, advising coaches, teams, and sports organizations on developing athlete cognition. After too many Boston winters, he and his wife now live in Fort Myers, Florida.

Daniel Peterson is a writer and consultant specializing at the intersection of neuroscience and sports performance. He combined twenty-five years of technology management experience with his second life as a sports dad and coach to explore how athletes make decisions. Now, ten years later, as cofounder and director of 80 Percent Mental Consulting, he works with coaches, trainers, and teams to understand and improve their cognitive game. Dan and his wife live outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, patiently waiting for the next generation of Peterson playmakers.

“Enjoying The Playmaker's Advantage, a new book by Daniel Peterson and Len Zaichkowsky. Great explorations in there, not just simple answers. No surprise, as I got a lot from speaking with them, and I was the interviewee!” 
–David Epstein, New York Times bestselling author of The Sports Gene

“An easy to read book that blends science and coaching practice in a manner in which many books are unable to achieve. I would recommend this to any coaches or scientists interested in improving their team’s performance.”
–Damian Farrow, PhD, Professor of Skill Acquisition, Victoria University & Australian Institute of Sport

The Playmakers Advantage shines needed light on the art and science of building healthy, strong and resilient young athletes.”
–Avery D. Faigenbaum, EdD, FACSM, FNSCA, Professor, Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey

The Playmakers Advantage effectively explores and integrates the technical, tactical, mental and physiological aspects of a playmaker’s makeup. A great read for parents, coaches and players, especially those in team sports.” –Dave Hadfield, Mental Skills and Coaching Consultant (currently working with New Zealand Rugby, World Rugby, Toronto Blue Jays)

“To all in the world of sports, I would highly recommend The Playmaker’s Advantage. Len Zaichkowsky is a genius. The book beautifully blends between science and application. Great stuff!” –Scott Goldman, Ph.D., Director, Performance Psychology, Miami Dolphins

“Loved this book on the mental side of performance from Dr. Len Zaichkowsky and Daniel Peterson! A quality read for athletes and coaches.” –Steve Magness, Head Cross Country Coach, University of Houston and Co-author of Peak Performance

“Excellent book by Daniel Peterson and Leonard Zaichkowsky. Amazing training that is already being implemented by some of the best.” Desi Druschel, Assistant Baseball Coach, University of Iowa

“I couldn't support this book more. The man that introduced me to the field of sport psychology, Dr. Zaichkowsky’s new book is a must read for the field. Terrific for youth sport parents and coaches, and anyone that wants to move from the B to A team!” –Scott Barnicle, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology, West Virginia University

“I recommend The Playmakers Advantage by Leonard Zaichkowsky & Daniel Peterson for anyone who is interested in the role that cognition plays in the development of elite team athletes. As a huge sports fan, a parent and a 'bit' of a positive psychology junkie, the authors had me at the title with this one!” –Katie Comtois, MS, MAPP, Executive Leadership Coach

"One of the most valuable books I have read in a long time. How often as coaches have we said it is all in your head. The Playmaker's Advantage shows how to use what’s in our head to our competitive advantage."
–Vern Gambetta, Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems