Categories
#mental health Leadership mindset overcoming challenges

The Secret To Getting The Best Out Of A Player

There’s a secret that few organisations understand, because either their focus is on other things they feel demand more attention or they have yet to understand the value and power of this secret.

I’ve been using this secret for over ten years with outstanding results yet when I presented the idea to other organisations, they either ignored them, believed things should be done as they have always been done or had their eyes on other methods to get the best out of a player.

Let me share the secret with you because whether you believe it or not, or whether you have other methods to help a player, at least I have done my bit in passing it on.  With the idea simply sitting in my head, who benefits from that?

There’s a powerful lesson I learned many years ago which forms a huge part of this secret and it’s at this point I have to tell you, you won’t suddenly start winning once you know this secret, but the player will learn to be the best they can be and it’s also important to know, and I’m sure you do, there are various levels of ability and no two players are the same, yet this secret allows any player of any ability to be the best they can be.

Many organisations get the formula wrong.  They go for the best players, and when they struggle, they simply replace them.  I understand why organisations do this, but there is so much more to winning than getting the best players together and crossing your fingers.  Even when you have the best players together, you’re not guaranteed to win but start to use this secret and you’ll feel and see the results.

Our performance is driven by our emotions.  Our emotions are driven by our thoughts, therefore our thoughts drive our performance.

No that wasn’t the secret, but it is an inight. The insight isn’t to simply know this, but to learn the details that exist in the thoughts, break them down, and remove any challenge or internal barrier that stops the player from being their best.

I’m trained in identifying these details and breaking them down and recognising the real challenge and barriers that exist.  I’m also trained in breaking down those barriers and challenges, and creating new ways of thinking with purpose for improved results.

As a leader in an esports organisation, perhaps you’re a former player that naturally progressed into a leadership role, do you believe you know what it takes to get the best out of a player based on what you’ve read?

It’s OK if you don’t.  You’ve spent your life gaming without really thinking about why you think and do what you do.  There is no shame in not knowing how to get the best out of a player but there is shame in not doing anything about it.  There is shame in not consulting or taking advice from someone who knows.  Your players and yourself deserve to know how to be your best because when you’re not at your best, all those around you will suffer.

The secret to getting the best out of a person isn’t to force them to try harder, train more hours, push them to their limits.  The secret is to actively listen and teach them how to think with purpose.

Thanks for listening and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat 

Play with purpose

Categories
#mental health Become who you want to be esports mindset motivation overcoming challenges

Your past does not define whom you can become!

Who you are today is a culmination of experiences and perspectives and most of the time, how you are is OK.  You do OK.  But when it comes to professional sports, being OK isn’t good enough.  You have to be excellent or at least be striving for excellence but reaching that level takes determination, guts and smart work, but what happens to your focus when something negative happens in your life.  Perhaps a death, an injury, a fall out with a family member or even succumbing to pressure and stress.

Many athletes over the years have spoken about their struggles, Frank Bruno, Kevin Love, Michael Phelps, just to name 3 but a quick google search will bring you up a list even longer with no surprise.

So what can you do?  What can you do to move away from the struggles quickly and get yourself back on track.

Let me share this story with you

For many many years, a man had taken the same path to work.  He saw the same people, saw the same shops and felt the same way.  He was familiar with this routine and familiarity gave him a sense of comfort and this comfort gave him happiness.  He had no reason to change his route, he had no reason to walk faster, yet one day something changed but he didn’t know what.  His thoughts began to niggle at him.

This niggle grew into an itch and after several days, his happiness has turned into anxiety.  Instead of smiling at the people he walked past, he was on edge and avoided eye contact and had thoughts of changing something but he didn’t know what or how.  He was so familiar with his journey that thinking about changing it, only brought on a fear, so he tolerated and tolerated until one day he decided not to get up.

Sometimes when we feel the need for change, we fear what might happen if we did change, and the sense of familiarity pulls us back from growing and we continue to tolerate, even when you know something needs to change.

But these past events do not define who we can become.  Past events do not have to hold you down and stop you from achieving by doing and thinking differently.

You always have a choice to move away from negativity and choose to walk a new path and doing it is as simple as changing the direction in which you walk, who you talk with and recognising when you want change.  You have to hold yourself accountable.  You have to make new decisions because it’s very unlikely someone else will recongnise you want to change and help you.

So if you feel something needs to change, create that change for yourself!

Thanks for listening and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat 

Play with purpose

Categories
#mental health Become who you want to be Inner Voice Leadership motivation overcoming challenges

Is It Time To Introduce Emotional Intelligence Into Sports Coaching?

The effects of bullying can linger for a long time, depending on the strength of the emotion attached to the words or behaviours associated with the bullying and even through elite athletes can be perceived to be resilient, they are also human and experience emotions just as regular people do, yet the impact can be felt on a much deeper level due to the situation of being a professional athlete.

There are some perceptions that believe the elite athlete must be able to overcome bullying behaviours, and ‘man up’ because to be the best you must demonstrate a hard shell and an almost invincible like exterior, and not to show weakness.  Isn’t that right?

Of course it isn’t!

Maybe the bullies don’t know they are demonstrating bullying behaviours or maybe they are trying to instil resilience in their teammates.  Who knows, but one thing is for sure, there should be no place in professional sports for bullying and if a bullying culture does exist, maybe it’s time to create change?

How do you create change?

Firstly when someone is feeling bullied, it’s imperative they have an outlet to air their thoughts but who do they turn to?

They can’t turn to their manager, because as one former premier league footballer told me, it was the manager that was the bully!  This player, who will remain unnamed, told me the coach used the phrase ‘grow some balls!’  This incident happened a good few years ago and I’d like to think in the time between then and now, there’s been some new coaching techniques being taught to up and coming managers that focus on learning about emotional intelligence and how to recognise when to use it.  But what is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed in sports, and achieve your career and personal goals. It can also help you to connect with your feelings, turn intention into action, and make informed decisions about what matters most to you.

The aim of professional sports, to me, is simple – from the athlete perspective, be the best you can be, or from a coach/manager perspective, create an environment in which you and your team can be the best they can be.

By learning about emotional intelligence, being the best you can be, will come a lot faster and easier than compared with someone who uses their raw personality and technical ability to coach or play yet this important factor of coaching and playing is rarely touched upon in coaching programmes.

I understand there’s a gap in the coaching market which is why I offer confidential, discreet coaching for those professional athletes wanting to be their best but are unable to open up to anyone else.

I understand elite athletes are human and experience feelings and emotions but there is often a conflict between the emotions and what’s expected of them, which can leave some athletes confused and anxious and unable to shake the fear.

I make my services available to athletes so they can thrive.

You deserve to thrive!

Thanks for reading and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat 

Play with purpose

Categories
esports Leadership motivation

The Real Impact Of Not Listening

You’re in a room full of people all wearing hats. You look around and listen to the conversations and notice 5 people have green hats on, 5 people have blue hats on and 2 have red hats on. How many people are in the room?

While you’re working that out let me remind you you’re also listening to the conversations in the room with great interest. 

Listening is a skill that few have mastered but many lack the understanding or purpose of listening so let me suggest why listening is a skill you need to master and you’ll be surprised at how easy it can be. 

Let’s imagine for a moment you’ve got something you just have to share with someone. Something inside your head is urging you to share this emotionally charged news so you call your friend and begin to talk enthusiastically, sharing as much as you can. 

When you’ve exhaled all the news you stop and wait for a response, hoping for some kind of recognition or acceptance. 

In sports it’s very common for coaches or managers to talk at the players and expect them to carry out those instructions.  The coach talks, the player listens. 

Yet some of the better coaches approach communication from a different perspective often giving the players the opportunity to talk, and for the coach to listen. Why is this a good strategy?  

When a coach is only giving instructions they are missing part of the bigger picture.  Through listening to the players, the missing piece is found and solutions to improving performance can be found quickly.

And by the way, the answer to the question of how many people are in the room is 13.  5 plus 5 plus 2 plus 1 (you) 

Thanks for listening and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat 

Play with purpose

Categories
#mental health mindset overcoming challenges Tips

Are you setting unrealistic expectations?

An expectation is something you expect to achieve, a goal or something to aspire to which in the competitive world of sports, plays a huge part in performance yet in my experience of working with players at high levels there is a common denominator that limits the growth and potential of players.

Unrealistic expectations set by others.

When someone else sets your expectations or the player hears the expectations from others so often they begin to believe them, the only outcome can be failure and it was this situation I found myself hearing from a current client.

This player had played at the highest level, representing his country yet inside he felt he was failing because he wasn’t able to live up to the expectation of others.

The unrealistic expectations he’s heard forever, left him questioning his ability and performance at the end of each game and this had gone on for many years.

He sees himself as a failure in some ways even though he’s doing well in some areas.

We talked and we were able to reframe his thinking and his understanding of expectations and the value of setting his own expectations because when you set your own expectations and achieve them, there is a greater sense of accomplishment and success than when others set you unrealistic expectations.

This reframing of his mindset frees him from the sense of failure of not living up the the unrealistic expectations which does two things:

Allows him to play more freely and with purpose

Heightens his well being

Many players are suffering due to unrealistic expectations placed on them, yet they tolerate them because they think being a professional sports player involves tolerating the hard times because that’s what it takes to win.

Bullshit!

Coaches get it wrong when they set players unrealistic expectations, because they are simply setting them up to fail which can lead to some players dropping out of the game, losing motivation and in some instances worse, and who wins in these situations.

If you’re a coach, I urge you to talk to your players about expectations and the value in allowing them to set their own.

If you’re a player then I urge you to learn to set your own expectations and shut out the noise that others place on you.

Thanks for reading and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat 

Play with purpose

Categories
Become who you want to be esports Inner Voice mindset overcoming challenges

Purposeful Thinking

When things go wrong you hear things like, time is a great healer, it will work itself out or you’ll get through it and although there is a tiny bit of truth in these words, they land more on hope rather than a determination to create change.  I’ve never understood why you would want to place your hope into things changing because hope relies on external factors falling into place to create change.  Its almost like you’re placing your fate in the hands of an unknown entity and crossing your fingers for the best. 

To create real change for you, you have to take control and learn how to think with purpose. You wouldn’t see a fire in your garden and hope it would go out.  You would take action.  You wouldn’t look at your fuel gauge in your car and hope it would fill itself up.  You would take action.  You wouldn’t break your ankle and hope it would heal. You’d take action. So why would you hope things get better for you without taking action?

Purposeful action is you taking action to create change for yourself. To improve. 

Your inner voice drives your performance and knowing what to say and when will give you leverage like you wouldn’t believe. 

Many people fail to recognise their inner strength, almost like they are ashamed of what they could accomplish if they only thought differently.  Connecting with your inner strength relies on looking inwards and judging yourself in a positive manner and for some, the act of placing positivity onto themselves can feel awkward or egotistical, but these people are wrong. 

Accepting your inner strength takes courage and an acceptance and acknowledgement that the person inside deserves to be heard to help you become the best you can be. 

You owe it to yourself to learn how to think with purpose to achieve the results you truly desire.

Thanks for reading and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat 

Play with purpose

Categories
Inner Voice mindset overcoming challenges

What do you say to yourself under pressure?

What you say to yourself matters.  Henry Ford said:

whether you think you can or whether you think you cannot, you’re right. 

In sports there are 3 defining challenging moments you’ll experience – pressure losing and mistakes. It’s inevitable.  You’re not going to win every competition so knowing what to do in these 3 key moments will either propel you forward or drag you back. 

In this blog let’s consider handling pressure. 

Your mind drives your performance and actions. Imagine a finely tuned car, a super car ready to race and show the world what it’s capable of.  It’s shiny exterior and powerful engine is ready for action. 

But it needs a driver. It needs someone that understands the car like the back of their hand, someone whos in synch with the electronics and workings. 

But the driver is nervous. 

He’s cracked under pressure before and now with this brilliant car he feels even more pressure.  There’s expectations from the team owner, his coach, the sponsors for him to win.  

But he wants to give it a go. He says to himself this time will be different.  This time he will win. 

When we experience pressure one of two things will happen. 

You either feel stress and anxiety or you thrive 

Some people love pressure. They step up and take responsibility for what’s about to happen and can deal with the success or failure that follows. 

Some shy away from pressure leaving the decisions to others. 

When I was 15 a long time ago our school basketball team had come from 19 points down to tie the game in the national school final with just a few seconds remaining. 

I drove to the basket, jumped and was fouled and hit the floor. 2 free throws to come but as I went to get up off the floor, I couldn’t!  My legs were tight and I had no idea what was going on! 

Turns out I had cramp. I’d never had cramp before so I was panicked but after my assistant coach helped me I stood up and composed myself. If I missed it would leave the door open for the opponents. If I made them, we’d have the advantage. I went to the free throw line and nailed both go give us a 2 point lead which helped us win the game. 

This was my first experience with pressure and I was balanced calm and focused and carried that perspective forward ever since. 

Pressure is a perspective of your situation and those that thrive welcome those moments.

How do you perceive pressure? 

Categories
esports mindset

Relationships in sport. Are you getting it right?

I’m going to suggest a relationship is the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.

One of the relationships you must pay attention to is the one between you and your coach and I’d like you consider the following three questions and give yourself truthful answers. Noone will see these and you don’t have to show your coach but you can take your answers and choose to do something positive with them.

  1. Which of the following ways of communicating does your coach interact with you – criticise, praise or ignore you
  2. Do you believe the coach wants you to be the best you can be?  Either way, what makes you come to that conclusion?
  3. Are you honest with the coach with your feelings about your own performance? If no, ask yourself why you aren’t honest with your coach about your feelings.

To be successful there must be mutual trust and respect between player and coach and this relationship thrives when communication is honest, supportive and open with each having the mindset of “What can I do to help others be the best they can be” for when each player and coach has this mindset, their focus becomes more about the team and others rather than a selfish approach that can leave a person blinkered as to what’s possible.

Now let’s consider the relationship between team mates and others.  In my younger days I had many teammates and I was very judgemental about their performances on the court.  I had something to prove to myself and wanted to be the best I could be but also wanted my team to win so I would challenge my team-mates to step up and improve, if only with increasing their hustle levels.  I believe any player, no matter your ability, skill set or technical ability can bring hustle and it’s hustle that brings a small increment of improvement over the course of a game.

If you’re lazy, I will call you out!

When you think of a team, you think of roles, and when you think of roles, you think of the people filling those roles and when you think of the people filling those roles, you can begin to understand what needs to be done to improve or what’s working really well.

The relationship between players again must be one of mutual trust and respect for a team to thrive.  You don’t need to be best friends away from the field of play but as soon as you cross that line into competition you shift your mindset and place your trust and respect into your teammates and if you’re unable to do that, then that’s a sign that something needs to change.

Of course you’ll form stronger bonds with some which can sometimes cause a fracture between the team, usually the better players will create their own click so it’s important you recognise the fracture and tell yourself no matter a players ability you must place your trust and respect into them for the sake of the team.  Another benefit of placing your trust and respect into lesser players is they will feel your positivity towards them and that can inspire them to play better.

As a recap over these last few episodes, we have explored the 7 pillars of growth that each of us need to spend time understanding when it comes to improving performance and wellbeing.

Moving forward I’ll be sharing insights and tips from my experiences with the aim to help you be the best you can be.

Categories
#mental health mindset overcoming challenges

Limiting and Mistaken Beliefs – The Truth!

Before covid hit in January 2020 which seems so long ago now, a football player and I connected because he was at a cross roads. 

He was playing in the lower leagues and was thinking about giving it all up.  Here’s what he said:-

“My frustrations are the management staff not explaining why i’m not playing, bad man management, not making individuals more confident or not giving advice on how we can improve and generally not saying a word to a player but only a few key players.

A thought that distracts me every now and then thinking “am i wasting my time here”? Being a player that moved back to the UK just for this opportunity.”

He was down and wanted to make a decision. 

Although he loved the game of football he felt he wasn’t valued or understood by the manager which left him feeling uncertain and unsure about the value he brought to his team but also in his self worth. 

Football was his passion and because his self worth was low, he felt part of his identity was missing, leaving him confused. 

I know from playing and coaching experience what the relationship between a player and coach should be.  It should be one of openness, integrity and mutual respect where both can bring some value to the relationship. 

But some coaches aren’t aware of this and some players aren’t aware of this either which means when there’s something wrong, there’s a tendency to skip over the issue and hope things work out. 

But this player was ready to give up and our conversation was the last resort. 

From listening to him in depth, I explained in depth the relationship between player and manager and told him, through nobody’s fault, there was simply a gap in communication filled with assumptions from both sides. The player assumes one thing and the manager assumes something else and when you assume, there’s a good chance you’re wrong. 

When you assume you make an ASSume out of assUme and assuME.

So I came up with a simple sentence for him to ask his manager. 

The purpose of this sentence was to remove his limiting beliefs around what was possible and to remove his mistaken belief that the coach didn’t see him of any value, and help the player gain clarity but also allow the coach to understand his perspective.

Before I tell you the sentence, let me tell you what happened.

After a couple of false starts due to nerves getting the better of him, he managed to speak with the manager which released his frustrations quickly.  He felt energised and his self-worth improved almost immediately.  The coach’s perspective changed and a new line of communication was opened.

The love for the game was restored!

Sometimes we can hold in our thoughts through fear of being rejected or criticised and when we do that, the anxiety just grows and grows until the only solution we see is to get out of there.

But when you learn you have a choice and you can take back control quickly, things, like they did with this football player, can turn around quickly.

The sentence he used was

“What I can do differently to help the team?”

If you found some value in this post, I invite you to comment and subscribe for my weekly blogs, released every Friday at 10.00am GMT

Categories
esports mindset overcoming challenges

How to manage expectations

I’d like you to consider the following tasks:

Run a marathon tomorrow

Hold your breath for 4 minutes

Do 200 pushups in 5 minutes

What thoughts and emotions did you just experience?

Sometimes in life and sports, others expect a lot more of you than you are capable of and when these unrealistic expectations are presented to you, one of three things will happen.

You will make an excuse not to attempt to try

You will half-heartedly give it a go

You will do it to the best of your ability

It’s usually those closest to you that set these unrealistic expectations and each person will have a reason to set us these tasks.  It could come from family, parents, your manager or coach because they want the best for you.  They want you to succeed and somewhere down the line they have heard a person can improve by being pushed to be better and as much as I agree to that sentiment to some degree, if the person isn’t ready to be pushed, those expectations from others won’t be accomplished.

When this happens, there is some trust lost between the two and fractured relationships can occur, therefore hindering any further growth.

So what can you do?

Putting those unrealistic expectations to one side, what do YOU expect of yourself? (Be selfish)

How far out of alignment are your expectations compared to those unrealistic ones, others are setting you?

There is something very powerful about setting your own expectations with the right guidance and I want to be clear on what that guidance is because if you’re a person who really wants to improve, you have to get it right.

If you took away your fear of letting others down and living up to others expectations, what expectations would you set yourself?

Write down three things you improve but make it realistic. As an esports pro you might want to get more sleep, eat healthier or improve your mindset.

Secondly, select just one of those things and tell yourself you’re going to improve in this category in so many weeks, by doing x more consistently.

Now all you do is begin to take action and this is where setting your own expectations becomes powerful.

Now you have a choice.

You will either do it, or you won’t.

If you don’t reach your expectations, you overstretched your capabilities so you must reflect and make adjustments.

If you do reach your expectations, enjoy that feeling when you achieve because that is true growth!