How NFL Pro Keion Crossen Optimizes His Mind & Body For Peak Performance

The best way to clear away distractions is to remove yourself from the world. For an example, even now as a pro athlete I would randomly deactivate all my social media apps because it cause such a big distraction, I realize that I can focus and think more about productive elements of my craft, and I have more time to work on it instead of being head down in the phone.


As a part of our series about “How Athletes Optimize Their Mind & Body For Peak Performance”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Keion Crossen.

Crossen uses daily meditation and visualization to ensure he maintains focus and confidence while meeting the expectation on the field. A current minister and PRO player for the Houston Texans. During his college years, as a track athlete, he was named SoCom champion in the men’s 100-meter dash. His performance qualified him as for the NCAA East Preliminary. On the football field, Crossen finished with three career interceptions and a total of 19 pass break-ups — seven in both his junior and senior seasons. As a PRO NFL player, Crossen helped the Patriots reach Super Bowl LIII where they defeated the Los Angeles Rams 13–3. Crossen outworks everyone around him. He believes if someone has to get it done, it will be him.

When others are done working, I’m still there, even after the sun goes down.
— Keion Crossen


Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is a great honor. Our readers would love to learn more about your personal background. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I am delighted and honored to be a part of Global/Huff Post. First and foremost, I am Keion Crossen who was created by Winnie Moses and Thomas Crossen, I have 2 siblings Tanisha Crossen and Travis Williams. I was born and raised in Garysburg, NC that contains a population of a whopping 1,000 people at most. Just as most athletes that I know my family was one of the unfortunate, grew up on about 1,000 a month, received government assistance, etc, but my parents and family members always knew how to fight together to get things done. The most important part is that over sports my parents made sure that we understood the importance of education. I received my high school education from Northampton High school, College education from Western Carolina (Marketing major, minor sport management), and currently Liberty University where I am studying to receive my master’s in divinity. I grew up running track with Mac Booker and his son, later to transition to other sports who I was introduced to by Emmanuel Boone. Unsurprisingly, I was an elite athlete with raw ability who worked ethic is out the roof, so for the first couple of years, it was like putting puzzle pieces together to figure out my strengths and weaknesses. That’s where I think my hometown plays a major role because growing up there was not one athlete who had made a professional career, so my focus was to be the best person and athlete you can be and do something that no one from Garysburg has done and that’s to inspire others to pursue their dreams. Although it is a small city, Garysburg is a city that’s considered off the grid because no one ever considered that part of North Carolina, but there are some young and promising athletes there, just as I am now, and as always I encourage colleges to expand their horizon and look at smaller town kids who have dreams and the same work ethics, but not the opportunity to showcase their talents.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as a high-level professional athlete? We’d love to hear the story.

I was inspired by my late grandmother Amy Moses, Parents (Winnie and Thomas), and my sister and brother (Tanisha &Travis). The reason is that my grandmother set the tone for the family. I would watch her get up every day to go to work and provide without ever asking for anything in return. She was the true definition of a Hero. She saved a lot of young kids from destroying their lives by offering them a job at Newark extended care and looked after them as if they were her own. She was very Hard on education and her expectation was very high for herself, kids, grandkids. She also attended church not just on Sundays but whenever the opportunity presented itself, she was all in for it. Mainly she was a major part in raising me and for that, she is my biggest inspiration. My Mother and father inspire me by showing me that no matter what the case may be in life continue to press forward, finish anything you start, and most importantly respect is a key element to life. Lastly, my sister Tanisha was the lead way to sports(my brother is about 11 years older so I never watched him but I’ve heard the stories). She was dominant, especially in basketball. She averages 25+ points 10+ steals 10+ assist every game and it was like watching the girl version of Jordan, without the air. She was a leader to her teammates and she always carried that grit that made her such a special player. She pushed me by encouragement and also sometimes beating me in a competitive game, but also she loved me like a bee love honey, which is refreshing because I could get a big hug after I just got my tail beat in a game of ball. For those reason, these are some inspirational people.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

This is always a hard question for me because there is no one particular person, that did more than another. I feel like God put people in your life for a reason, a season, and a purpose. So I could name off a few people, but I would just thank everybody that was involved and took time to help me pursue my dreams, without you, it would’ve been extremely hard, but your contribution was much appreciated, especially because it was from the heart with nothing expected in return. Ultimately, I give all the credit to God who has led me and guided me in/out of life when I was to deviate from the path he had, All the honor and Glory He deserves.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your sports career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

One of the funniest moments in my sports career was high school, I took my head basketball coach Johnathan white Car for a joy ride around the track by the football field, and casually totaled the car. I went back to tell him, and his face was super confused because I was only supposed to get his binder out of the car instead, I come back with his front end needed a whole new facial. Even funnier, he is married to my cousin Nelly White, so of course, I hear the story every time I come around, but the lesson I learned was to follow the instruction given, if it’s not yours don’t touch it, also trust is earned but also can be taken by actions.

What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?

1st thing Follow God because he will lead and guide your steps, next thing would be is to surround yourself with people that are trying to get where you want to go, and even if there is no one yet its ok to separate yourself. Respect the game you want to pursue by the work you put it, nothing that’s worth it will be easy, and everything easy will not be worth it.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Projects that my team Ascend Athletics and I are working on now is to build a foundation to help youth and adults. The program will help unfortunate youth by providing different resources for education and a path to have the same opportunities as fortunate kids to get in good colleges and receive an athletic scholarship to further their educational dream as well as their athletic career. The first thing we would do is to start free camps in different poverty areas, that will include a day camp or a weekend camp that includes devotions, and worship/prayer sessions. The camp will focus on Sports but will include educational aspects where we would bring in Speakers such as doctors, lawyers, judges, police officers, teachers, and athletes to share experiences and to give aspiration to the youth. Also, for younger kids, we will have reading/ math camps.

Besides, we will have adult camps where we would bring in adults for worship/devotion and will focus on adult related issues.

Most important we are working on the camps being free for the kids, but we are accepting sponsorships, donations, or anything that would go to benefitting the kids. I too will donate every year to the foundation, so please let’s get out and support our future generations the right way, Christ way.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As an athlete, you often face high stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high-stress situations?

In most high pressured situation most people tend to wither because the situation is the first time they have ever experienced such pressure, but let’s think about if you have at least thought about experiencing that type of pressure, that makes a huge difference, which brings me to my three points physical, mental, and emotional fit. Making sure you are physically, mentally, and emotionally fit to handle such pressured situations could be a difficult process, what do I mean? Well, most people are just physically fit, and even mentally fit, but lacks emotional fitness. When diving into a high-pressure situation all 3 of those elements must be presented, if one of those are absent your likelihood of handling the situation decrease by a great margin. How do you Physically prepare, by doing strenuous physical workouts and activities related to the situation? Once you have physically prepared your body to elevate to be an elite athlete, you must then be able to think and control your emotions, such start to include things like a number or name memorization with the workout to help you prepare your mind mentally to sustain a situation in a clutch moment, that way you’re not overthinking, but you are thinking about necessary thought to help your team or yourself beat your opponent. Emotionally you have to be the person to relax everyone around you because in a high pressured situation most people tense up, but once you have experienced hardcore tense training for situations similar then when you get into situations of that kind of attitude it’s not foreign to you it’s just practice except this time there is no redo.

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques to help optimize yourself?

I have downloaded the Calm app, but before all the apps and technology I would spend alone time by a lake or some kind of nature or waterfront to ensure that my mind is clear and have no distraction so all I would hear is my breath. The key is to leave any distraction at home, in the car, so that you solely focus on yourself.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions?

The best way to clear away distractions is to remove yourself from the world. For an example, even now as a pro athlete I would randomly deactivate all my social media apps because it cause such a big distraction, I realize that I can focus and think more about productive elements of my craft, and I have more time to work on it instead of being head down in the phone.

How about your body? Can you share a few strategies that you use to optimize your body for peak performance?

I will start by saying as an athlete your body is your lively hood so making sure you get adequate work and rest is key for an athlete’s physical, mental, and emotional abilities. I like to think of the Karate Kid quotes “ Wujibifan”, you must allow your mind and body time to rest and get out of that stressful mood, so either go do something fun to relax and take a spa day.

These ideas are excellent, but for most of us for them to become integrated into our lives and put them to use, we have to turn them into habits and make them become ‘second nature’. Has this been true in your life? How have habits played a role in your success?

They say a habit takes 21 days to break, I believe that to not be as true. I. believe as soon as you mentally prepare yourself and physically prep yourself to start changing that old habit to make it good that’s when you start breaking the habit, not after or on the 21st days. The repetition of doing the right thing over and over mentally and physically will produce good results. I’m Christian so I like to refer to a bible verse my college coach made sure we all knew Galatian 6:9.

Can you share some of the strategies you have used to turn the ideas above into habits? What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

Let’s start from the bottom up, to stop a bad habit you must first notice the bad habit, once you notice the habit think about and write down ways you are going to fix this habit, give yourself realistic goals. Next, begin your process, be consistent, and have accountability partners. Great Habits becomes optimal by repetition and consistency. Most people want to be great, but you have to understand what characteristics make a great athlete. One of them being consistency, and the other being mental and physical work ethic, and lastly taking care of the body. Doing these things and it will bring you optimal performance. For example, I had a habit of eating bad, which allow me not to gain the weight needed, which inhabited my performance on the field which lead to mental depression because I could perform at a high level. So if you look at it one bad habit of eating created so many other avenues to detour it ended up affecting my entire game. So, I notice the bad eating habits, made a list of things to help me reach my goal. Next, I made sure to have an accountability partner, then I proceeded with the process, by the end I had reached my goal my production went up, mentally and physically I felt amazing.

As a high-performance athlete, you likely experience times when things are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a mind state of Flow more often in our lives?

A mental state of flow for me is when I am doing anything that could become a competitive activity. The reason is that I have a mindset of dominance, I want to destroy anyone I face because that’s the reason I train is to win. So my flow mindset comes in when I am confident in what I am doing. For all those who want to reach that Flow mindset be confident in what you are doing, but you can only get confidence by the work you put in.

Do you have any meditation practices that you use to help you in your life? We’d love to hear about it.

I normally pray, as a part of being a Christian I take time to pray and to meditate to God about anything and everything that I need to release, which helps clear my mind and relax my body.

Many of us are limited by our self-talk, or by negative mind chatter, such as regrets, and feelings of inferiority. Do you have any suggestions about how to “change the channel” of our thoughts? What is the best way to change our thoughts?

I would always tell younger athlete who limit themselves by their mind, that you have to think positive at all times. I even notice that with other athletes, you have to understand you can’t think negatively or doubt yourself on something you’ve never done or going to do because if you do you are defeated before you even start. I have a saying that goes something like this “ I will complete…..because I will not give up….because its hard…and its worth it…If I don’t believe in myself no one will…Now go get it Champ. It’s a lot of positive and motiving things in one saying, it starts and finish my day daily.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are by all accounts a very successful person. How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I try to be a person that sees things from two perspectives and sometimes it’s not always that way but I try to because I have seen the struggled lifestyle as well as the wealthy lifestyle and the thing they have in common is that no matter where you are at in life everyone needs somebody. So I try to be the voice for the generations to come as well as continue to learn from successful people I encounter daily. It not about what you say but what you do. I donate to FCA to ensure that it continues to guide young adults to Christ and many other sport forum organizations to ensure athletes have resources. Also, my time to go out to hospitals with kids who need are sick and need inspiration is important and valuable to me as a successful person, and lastly what better way to end your day than to read to first graders who only knows how to spell FUN. That’s what life is all about, not the financial status people have or the democrats or republicans, it’s about loving each other because we are a Human race, not because we are black or white, one thing we are all promised is that we all must leave this world, so why not enjoy each other while we are here.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Short Cuts makes long delays”

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them.

I would love to have a conversation with Bill Gates, the reasoning is because I have read up on the story of how he got to where he is at but as I have stated above consistency is key, how has he managed to overcome obstacles, media, social life, business networking, etc. while still maintaining wealth at a high altitude. I enjoy learning and would like to see how he think as a business individual and I could give him a few pointers on how to stay fit and in shape physically, and add that I could help him a lot on knowing the prices of everyday items so next time he is on the Ellen show he will perform at an optimum level.


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