Michael Gervais, PhD
The Manhattan Beach sports psychologist focuses most of his time on people at the “top of their game,” from NBA players to Olympians to military personnel.
Pursue the edge of your map,” challenges Dr. Michael Gervais, founding partner and senior director of high-performance psychology at the Pinnacle Performance Center in Manhattan Beach. Michael’s own map began as a young surfer. Having trouble connecting with the waves during competitive matches, an older boarder wisely told him to “stop thinking about what could go wrong” and treat the match like an afternoon of freestyle surfing. More relaxed and confident, he gained a competitive edge.
Then in college, with the help of a mentor, he fell in love with the human mind and earned a degree in psychology from Loyola Marymount. The competitor, the mentor and the encouragement of his wife, Lisa, led Michael to earn a doctorate in sports psychology. Pinnacle is focused on high-performance psychology, or as Michael explains it, “People who are interested in the next level of performance or lifestyle.”
The company has formed many partnerships in the past decade including one with D.I.S.C. Sport and Spine Center as an official medical services provider for the U.S. Olympic team. Pinnacle also directs the high-performance psychology for Red Bull North America’s athletes—some of the best in the world at action sports. “The psychology within action sports is like no other,” he says. “It involves high-risk, high-stakes performances.”
Michael says that high-performance athleticism is based not only in the physical but also the psychological skills necessary to enhance consistent performance. He doesn’t need to offer advice to world-class athletes, so instead he helps them better understand their strengths and desired improvements. “Most of the folks I spend time with have made a decision that they are interested in pursuing the edge of their own map, which means that, by definition, they are moving toward places which they don’t have a clue how to navigate,” he says. “But they also are willing to let go and change the habits that have gotten them to where they are.”
Beyond his business, Michael is involved with the South Bay Children’s Health Center, which helps improve the quality of youth in the community. For the past 15 years, he’s also been connected with Late Night Sports and the Youth Advisory Committee, the former being a sports-based life skills program for high school and college kids and the latter proving training to students in leadership and community service. But it’s easy for Michael to stay dedicated to his commitments, living in a community with so many motivated people interested in a high-performance way of living. And when he does need a break, he still surfs around 33rd Street in Manhattan Beach.