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!

Categories
esports mindset

Your Reality

We live in the moment, we exist in the moment, yet it’s easy to get distracted by the past or think too far into the future and I want to start with talking about the importance of recognising where you are because when you accept your reality, you can begin to set realistic and achievable goals.

I want to talk about goal setting because in sports, goal setting is important to help us gauge our growth and development and this gives us a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  How great does it feel when you accomplish a goal?  I’m right handed and remember practicing to make a left hand layup, a shot in basketball.  I was in the school gym with my mate in the lunch hour and it started off with a simple question, shall we practice left hand layups.  So we started.  Of course we sucked at them!  Hitting the bottom of the ring, missing the ring completely, but all the time we were adjusting and repeating until we eventually got one in!  And although we managed to make one and accomplished our goal, we instinctively wanted more.  Making one wasn’t good enough so now could we make three in a row.

We tried, we made one, maybe two before finally making three and again, goal accomplished.  But we wanted more.

The goal now was to be consistent.

After being consistent could we make them under pressure

Then could we make them in games?

Our reality was very much in the moment, and we didn’t assume we could go straight into a game and make left hand layups, we had to learn the basics and fundamentals before moving on and the recognition of our reality kept us grounded.

How often do you compare yourself to others?  How does that make you feel?

It’s easy to begin to compare yourself with others who are either more successful than you or not as good as you then begin to judge yourself based on your judgements of others which isn’t fair on you because their journey to where they are was very different to yours.

This unfair comparison can raise anxiety through thinking you’re not good enough, or bring a sense of complacency thinking you are so much better, but when you focus on your journey, your needs, your goals, improving becomes something you can control and feel at ease with.

Be proud of where you are, be accepting of your current level of ability and if you really want to improve set yourself realistic targets based on your needs.

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

Play with purpose

Categories
esports Inner Voice mindset motivation

Creating your ideal vision

YOUR IDEAL VISION 

Looking to the future gives us something to focus on and work towards.

Imagine a ship with no destination, the crew and captain may be completing tasks and surviving but to what end, for what purpose are they simply sailing around with no destination?

Do you remember learning to fasten your shoe laces?  Probably not, as it’s a skill learned when you were around the ages of 6 or 7 and now you complete that skill without thinking twice, but there was a time when you found the motivation to learn that skill.

But for what purpose? 

Although you can understand the point of learning to fasten your shoe laces, ask yourself this question – For what purpose do I want to improve?

Your answer may surprise you or a least spark some interesting internal dialogue around why you do what you do.

We all have our motivation for wanting to improve and when you really connect with your purpose, you will jump into improving with an almighty splash and begin to feel and see results quickly, but if you’re unsure as to why you want to improve, improving won’t come easily to you.

In The recent docuseries the Last Dance about the Chicago Bulls, NBA team of the 90’s, Michael Jordan, arguably the best player that ever lived, told a story about how a young player had got the better of him in a game, scoring 37 points.  It was said that after the game the player, LeBradford Smith uttered something to Jordan like “good game’, Jordan took this small comment as fuel to motivate him for the next game and said he would score his opponents full game total of 37 by half time next time they met.  Jordan went to score 36 and proved a point.

But here’s where his motivation goes to another level.  The comment Smith made, was never made!  Jordan allegedly made up the story, meaning it wasn’t the verbal comment made by Smith that lit his fire, which in itself would be a good mindset, but it was simply his inner voice, creating a scenario that fuelled the fire.

Can you imagine!  The desire to win and improve so badly was simply created by imagining another player said something disrespectful to him!  Now that’s on another level but it is possible to create motivation from anything and it doesn’t have to come from an external source.

In this instance, Jordan’s vision was to beat the same team that beat them the night before and get revenge on a young player.

He simply needed to tell himself the right words.

When creating your ideal vision, think short term, as in next few days, medium term, next few weeks and long terms, next few months/years and keep it realistic.

You can’t tell yourself you’ll be the best in the world if your diet is poor, you are constantly tired and you aren’t even close to being great.

But it’s important to get into good habits so you can achieve your short term, medium term and long term vision.

It’s habits that will help drive you forward.

So now, with that new perspective, ask yourself, for what purpose do I want to improve?

Categories
esports mindset

Your Values. Are You Aligned?

Your values  form the foundation on which you perform work and conduct yourselves. … The core values are the basic elements of how you go about your work

 but when it comes to sports, you should remind yourself some of your values might be compromised and that’s when problems can occur.  They may present a list of values but are these real values or hollow values?

For example if one of your values is respect, for yourself and others, yet your manager fails to treat you with respect, there will be an internal conflict for you to work out and raises questions like, shall I stay or should I go, Shall I mention it to my manager, shall I keep quiet because If I say something I will be thrown off the team….

Let’s consider a few values that should be included in all sports delivery

Accountability

Consistency

Determined

Disciplined

Growth

Professionalism

Self-worth

Team work

Courage

Understanding

You will interpret each of these values in your own way based on your past experiences and so will everyone else.  It’s unfair to assume your interpretation of professionalism is the same as one of your team mates.  Its unfair to assume your interpretation of growth is the same as your manager’s, which brings us to the importance of communication.

Without conversations and dialogue and specific questions, teams and individuals can quickly lose focus so let’s look at three important questions any player should be encouraged to ask to help them understand the values of themselves and the team:-

1) What can I do differently to help the team?

2) What is the one strength I have that you can count on that helps the team?

3) What works when we are winning?
Consider what your three core values are and ask yourself if you’re aligned with them or does something need to change?

Categories
esports mindset overcoming challenges

Improve your communication with cake recipes

Esports and cake?

There is a link between cakes and esports and not the obvious one you might be thinking. We are talking about recipes and when it comes to improving performance, it’s all about the recipes, so let’s look at what you need to do.

Follow a recipe of course!

You’ve got your ingredients for a cake but now what do you do with them? How do you transform these individual items into something really tasty?

Unless you’re trained and have done it before, the likely hood is you’ll follow a recipe and a method that involves weighing, measuring, mixing and heating and if things go to plan, your cake will be completed, ready to eat (and share if you really want to) in the shape of an X-box or PS or something that you can enjoy

Recipe for your mind

Imagine for a moment the cake represents your ideal outcome. Whether that’s finding confidence, or improving performance or overcoming an issue that’s been bugging you for a while, you want a different outcome than the one you’re currently getting

Just like the recipe for the cake there is a recipe for the mind and the ingredients include how you see, hear and feel and when you learn how to mix them in the right way, your ideal outcome will be achieved quickly

The hard part is convincing yourself, you are ready to try mixing the ingredients up differently and this is hard because to do that, you must first understand how and why you think. Have you got the time and open mind to learn new perspectives?

Changing your recipe

Over your life you’ve created beliefs, values and habits, rightly or wrongly but somewhere down the line, you decided you want to change things; you want things to be better for you. Perhaps you feel tired all the time, perhaps you have had enough of losing or perhaps you want to try something new? whatever different outcome you want, you have to think and act differently.

The thought of changing can be enough to put some people off from trying, but it’s important to know changing takes courage and determination and will lead to different outcomes, and by coming out of your comfort zone for just a few moments, you will begin to feel a change. Then you ride that momentum and embrace what’s happening

New outcomes achieved!

Just like baking that cake of yours, getting the right outcome takes time to perfect. When I was younger, every Christmas I would bake a chocolate log, a Swiss role covered in chocolate. I’d make about five of them for my relatives and I was that skilled, I could do it without a recipe because I got into the zone and just did it. But to get to that level took time. Yes I made mistakes but quickly ate up the evidence before my mum saw

You deserve to find new outcomes if the ones you’re achieving now, aren’t providing you with what you need or desire, so embrace change, embrace your ability to do things differently and start to bake a new cake!

One FIFA pro I was working with talked about letting his team down, being distracted and wanting to finish the game quickly and score quickly which led to hasty decisions.  We talked about his thoughts and broke them down then reframed his thinking to create a new emotion which led to improved outcomes of winning game 1 – 0 or 2 – 0 and getting more wins.  He’s recently beaten two brilliant players, DullenMike the youngest winner of a FUT Champions Cup in the history of EA SPORTS FIFA and The Gorilla, arguably the GOAT of FIFA.

The point is this – When you have a need or desire to improve, you can change your thinking to fast track your way to improvements by changing your recipe, just like you can change a recipe from a chocolate chip cake to a strawberry cake, you make a couple of adjustments and off you go.  You might not get it right first time but you have taken the first steps to improving