Winning is to be celebrated because you did a lot of things right to reach this outcome and you may have experienced some luck along we way (we all enjoy luck at some point in our lives), but it’s the realisation that all the training, smart work, rested nights and eating habits all played a part in achieving a win
Let me ask you this – Are you aware of what you did to win or is is coincidental?
The recipe for success
Some of you will know how a cake is made, but for the uninitiated let me tell you there’s ingredients, a recipe and a method
You take the ingredients, follow the recipe and method and if you do everything right, you end with an amazing cake!
You still with me? Good!
Just as the cake is the outcome, winning is the outcome when you work with the right ingredients and follow the recipe and method but in the recipe for success, your ingredients include how you think, the emotions you feel and what you do
These recipes are used within 7 areas of your being that include:
Stay ahead of the competition
When you’re winning, there is alignment and your recipe is pretty much spot on, and although you have an advantage over your opponents, when you’re winning you still need to tweak a few of the ingredients because there are others trying to steal those wins away from you.
When you’re at the top of your game, others will be doing all they can to bring you down and gain an advantage so it’s important to know what to do to stay ahead.
Winning consistently for a long period of time is difficult and very few people can accomplish great things consistently.
Think traditional sports men and women like Ronaldo, LeBron James, Messi, Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton.
What is it they do that you can learn from?
They are consistently taking care of their minds and bodies
The world of esports is different in the sense there is less physical training needed, but don’t let that fact lead you down a path of false sense of security.
Continue to grow
Your mind and body still need to grow and adjust to avoid burnout, anxiety and poor performance and to attract positivity, resilience and purpose
To continue to win, you must consciously embrace what’s working for you and continue to do it. Be conscious of your sleeping patterns, what you eat, drink and how you stay healthy.
Being part of this academy allows you to explore your thoughts, ideas and concerns in a safe place without the fear of being criticised or judged. The academy invites you to engage and ask questions and share your stories and frustrations so growth can be achieved easily together.
Your mind is much more powerful than you give it credit for and as the academy shares more insights with you, you’ll see the bigger picture forming and with that in mind, let me ask you these questions– What does winning mean to you? What does winning provide for you? What does winning bring to your life?
China’s most famous e-sports player, Jian Zihao, has officially retired from gaming aged 23, citing ill-health reported the BBC in June 2020 (See the full article here)
He had been a professional gamer since 2012, playing League of Legends under the name of “Uzi”.
“As a result of staying up late for years, a fatty diet and being under insurmountable stress, last year I found out that I was type-2 diabetic.”
He went on to say that he had changed his work schedule, exercised and “taken medicine”, but that his situation had not changed.
“My mental state is not as good as it was before,” he said.
This is very telling of his lifestyle and the pitfalls of being a pro gamer.
In my 8 months of being involved in Esports as a coach, I’ve come to realise gaming as a profession is relatively new, yet esports is growing at a considerable rate. The (former) CEO of Fnatic, Sam Matthews one of the leading Esports organisations with its headquarters in the UK, has this to say about growth.
“While the esports model has always had the keys to success with a continued rise in prominence with a larger global audience, the pandemic accelerated the awareness of the phenomenon. The pandemic highlighted the importance of digital streaming platforms and traditional broadcasters followed suit, reproducing the successful esports model. With broadcasters on board, we anticipate seeing the line of distinction between traditional sports, entertainment and esports continue to blur.” (Read the full article in Forbes here)
With growth at such a fast pace, the pressures and expectations to succeed suddenly become a lot more real and here’s the dilemma. Young adults who dominate the demographic of gamers need to be resilient and understand there is more to winning than practicing up to 14 hours a day.
They have to consider downtime, diet, physical activity, spending time with family and friends and creating a schedule that allows the person to thrive and find a balance
“When the person thrives, the professional gamer thrives“
Uzi, the example above, didn’t know or understand the value and importance of finding that balance and personally I believe he can make a comeback with a few mental adjustments and changes to his lifestyle.
The question is does he want to get involved again?
THE POTENTIAL CHALLENGES
If you follow traditional sports like football (soccer) basketball and cricket for example, you can google many examples of players struggling under the pressure, suffering from anxiety and falling out of the game they once loved.
Do we want the same to happen to the young esports players? Let me remind you of the words of Sam Matthews “weanticipate seeing the line of distinction between traditional sports, entertainment and esports continue to blur.” Already we know the lines are already blurred from a mental wellbeing perspective.
For 7 years as a mental performance coach, I’ve coached footballers and basketball players and spoken to many former players about their issues and anxieties including how they were treated by their managers, their agents and others who wanted to exploit the players only for their own financial gain and I’d like to think a governing body to support the wellbeing of esports athletes is at least being considered. If not, I’m ready to lead on creating that project.
THE BRILLIANCE OF ESPORTS
If I were to join a team or even start a team, I’d place the wellbeing of the player at the centre of the organisation because I know if the players aren’t thriving the organisation will fail. Yes I’m aware there will be others waiting in the wings, but is that the message I’d want to send? If you can’t handle the pressure we will simply replace you? Definitely not!
Technology, content, apparel, hardware, software, events etc all play a huge part in the promotion and delivery of esports which is brilliant but sometimes, lost beneath all this excitement, social media presence, bright lights and amazing content is the fact that the players and indeed content creators need to understand how to navigate this world without experiencing burnout, anxiety or pressures because when they do, the love and passion for what they do will fade and losing a passion through burnout can be devastating. Just ask Uzi
If you’ve found this blog interesting, misinformed or intriguing, please let me know and comment. I’m open to feedback, questions and celebrations.
One of my first questions with a client is ‘what’s really holding you back?’ We have to cut through the bullshit and get to the nitty-gritty of what the real issue is so we can begin to find solutions quickly.
Back in February 2020, comparing himself to brilliance was one of the situations one of my clients experienced as a member of a pro FIFA team with the number 4 player in the world as a teammate. He felt he wasn’t good enough. He felt under-prepared and under pressure. He felt he was letting the team down.
After a few coaching sessions exploring limiting beliefs and internal communication (self-talk) we removed the sense of comparison and replaced it with ownership of his own ability for when you learn to focus on developing self to be the best you can be as opposed to trying to catch up to those better than you, great things will happen.
Does this sound familiar? Do you compare yourself to your better team-mates?
Stop it now! They had a different journey and life experiences than you and to compare yourself to them is like comparing the capabilities of a PS4 with a PS1, it’s just not fair. Learn and appreciate and accept your own journey without comparing yourself to others and great things will happen for you and your team.
New perspectives lead to improved results
You can choose to follow the crowd or walk your own path. How easy is it to follow the crowd? Just ask a sheep. This is what they do best! Following the crowd creates a sense of belonging, acceptance and common ground in which to connect with your fellow humans so why should anyone dare to walk in the other direction?
Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant (RIP), Messi. Do you think they followed the crowd?
To improve ahead of the natural curve you must do things differently, not necessarily more, but differently.
My client learned to do things differently, which led to multiple top 100 results weekly and monthly meaning he became one of the top 100 players in the world whereas prior to working with me, he never made the top 100.
UPDATE ALERT – “I played the pro for Hamburg at 27-1 who beat me a few days back. I beat him 2-0. I controlled the tempo and the whole game. I’m in the top 20 in the world for the month!”
Don’t be a sheep, be bold and grow in a different direction than the crowd.
Growth and sustained performance
Small increments of improvement add up to huge rewards and benefits and It’s only in the end result you can truly appreciate the smart work you’ve done has paid off.
This message from my client showed me the growth of his performance in just a short space of time, ahead of the natural curve. “The weekend league I finished 29-1. A handful of games finished 1-0 to me, which I now realise, is still a WIN! 1-0 or 10-0 same result! Don’t celebrate till the final whistle. My stream hit an all time high! I usually hit maximum 20 views if I’m lucky, I got tup to 7.6k at one point!! Sorry for this late message but check this 30-0 A first 30 win weekend! The amount I’ve improved this last month is crazy, your help is honestly incredible”
Coaching gives me moments like this that I cherish and value because improving takes guts. It takes a bold move to come out of your comfort zone and learn how to do things differently. But not everything will go your way and what happens when the unexpected happens? What can you do when events out of your control hit you hard? Find out next time to discover how my client dealt with Covid.
The Covid-19 Factor
Just as my client was getting ready to kick ass in competitions, a virus put everything on hold for FIFA, meaning the momentum we were building could have been lost. Some would throw in the towel; see it as a way of relaxing and use Covid as an excuse as to why their performance has dropped. What choice did my client take? Did he throw the towel in and make excuses? Here’s what he told me
“The best in the world isn’t grinding as much, it’s almost as though he’s happy with his position at the top, but it won’t last forever and that’s why I’m not sitting back while it’s off season and accepting the competitive season is on hold, since we’ve been working together I’ve developed an obsession with being the absolute best and I’m not going to stop. I feel like we’ve made incredible progress but there’s obviously always improvements to be made. So happy about this Mike. Mind-set is everything! You motivate me, knowing every Monday I receive a message from you with an update and I enjoy knowing there’s a little pressure from you. Even Covid, such a negative effect on the world but I believe I’ve used it as a positive to better myself”
Boom! The mind-set of a champion in the making right there!
There’s light at the end of this tunnel and with the momentum on his side; his mind-set has been honed and adjusted and ready for the new season.
He knows he’s been working smart and doing everything in his power to make an immediate impact.
Have others been doing the same? It doesn’t matter. Have others been slacking off? It doesn’t matter. What does matter is my client has been preparing in a way that has allowed him to unlock his potential in ways he wouldn’t have known.
With a new mind-set comes a new perspective of the world and not only in Esports but in life. The tools we explore go much deeper than sports and this quote from him demonstrates why
“The game (FIFA 21) has just dropped for 10 hours early access so I’ve been just grinding it non stop. I’m learning constantly to better myself on and off the pitch. I’m excited for the year ahead!”
The first week of competition and this happened!
“It came to the first weekend league, the first test & im instantly in the top 100 finishing 29 wins & 1 loss, making me verified first week! I’m happy with this but the 1 loss on penalties is in the back of my mind because I know I’m even better and capable of even more!“
His thoughts on the coaching journey
This player is eager, he’s hungry to grow but not all players have this mindset and for me, as a coach I have to know if potential clients have the right mind set and ask three simple questions
Do you have a need or desire to improve
Have you an open mind to learning new techniques and strategy
With my support are you prepared to take new action for improved results
“Mike, it’s amazing it’s such a great journey what we’ve been through! Good times and bad times! I’m a lot more patient, stuff isn’t going to happen overnight and the little details are so so affective! I’m using so much as motivation in everything“
Are you a gamer, A performance director or CEO wanting to know how to improve performance?
I work with disadvantaged young people between the ages of 16 and 18 and having watched the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, I felt the need to put my thoughts into this blog as a way to offer suggestions on how to solve the dilemma but first for those who haven’t seen it, let me give you a brief overview.
Social media like Instagram and Facebook that were once a fun way to engage with family and friends, are now being used, according to the contributors to the programme, to manipulate people and help advertisers make money. They use scientifically and psychologically proven algorithms to grab your attention and guide you to make decisions and form beliefs for their benefit.
Some young people and some adults are addicted to social media, with the effects being raised anxiety and lack of sleep, and one person taking a stand against the way social media manipulates people, is Tristan Harris and appears in the documentary. According to his website http://www.tristenharris.com, his is called the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” by The Atlantic magazine, Tristan Harris spent three years as a Google Design Ethicist developing a framework for how technology should “ethically” steer the thoughts and actions of billions of people from screens. He is now co-founder & president of the Center for Humane Technology, whose mission is to reverse ‘human downgrading’ and re-align technology with humanity. Additionally, he is co-host of the Center for Humane Technology’s Your Undivided Attention podcast with co-founder Aza Raskin.
I like the term “reverse ‘human downgrading’ and realign with humanity’ and believe he is referring to reversing our addiction to social media and somehow re-align social media to present itself in a way that supports the growth and development of humans in a positive way, rather than in a manipulative manner that is leading to dissonance between cultures, politics and other groups of people.
I have a five year old and he’s blissfully unaware of the dangers of social media and I’m conscious to protect him and educate him in other ways like reading books, playing games and helping him grow into a rounded individual…so far so good apart from when he loses at games!
Solving the social dilemma starts with solving the self and by that I mean, understanding each of us can choose what we read and what we listen to and how we behave, yet many of us go into autopilot mode, scrolling through social media, absorbing the content and forming new ideas and beliefs about the world around us and our social media circle.
The solution isn’t in trying to convince the social media platforms to change the content or algorithms but in learning to consciously choose what to read, listen to and how to act.
We can’t control what others think and do but we can control what we think and do and that knowledge is powerful when you learn how to use it to your advantage, especially when it comes to taking control back against social media manipulation.
People under-estimate the power of their mind because the power of the mind in the sense of controlling what you think and how you act, isn’t taught in schools or colleges unless you’re studying psychology or a similar subject, but instead we are trained to do as we are told and are conditioned to do so while at school and college.
We are told where to go, what to study, what happens when we fail and we learn success is linked to achieving a grade. Success should not be linked to a grade but how we manage relationships, how we overcome adversity, how we learn self-respect, and learning how we can choose to think and act to events that present themselves, either good or bad.
For example, if I told you somewhere within this blog, there is a link would take you to a site that showed you a cute cat, would you click it or not?
But before you go looking, let me tell you, before I mentioned the cat, you had no idea or thought about a cute cat so by merely placing that idea before you, you changed your thoughts and are now considering to take action.
This is how social media manipulates you. They put an idea or concept in front of you that before, you had no intention of considering, but now they have you intrigued and that intrigue can be enough to make you click that link and absorb the information and once you start down that rabbit hole, some find it difficult to come back out.
But what if I were to tell you, you do have a choice. You aren’t obligated to continue that journey. You can choose to consciously tell yourself to stop.
If we are to beat the social dilemma, we have to take control of our thoughts and actions and be conscious in the moment. It takes practice but it can be done.
There’s no better feeling than getting an edge on your opponent and feeling you are getting the better of them.
You lock them down and limit their ability to do what they do best
What I’m going to tell you, some may find controversial.
Traditionally, basketball players when being taught defence are taught to focus on the chest area of the attacker because this is the only part of the body they can’t fake. That makes sense until you discover another perspective.
Another perspective that was born from experience, research, pilot schemes and live performance, will tell you that this traditional method needs to be left behind.
GB PLAYER TEST
In a test, one former GB player, Devan Bailey was coaching on a camp I was also coaching on a few years ago in Bury up in the North of England. Devan is a quiet guy, humble yet intelligent and when I approached him with this new strategy to try out, he was open to it.
I explained the concepts to him and he took them on board. As a baseline I asked him to give me a number from 1 to 10 as to how in control and his confidence was in stopping the attacker, before the exercise and he gave me a number. After the exercise I asked him the same question and the number had increased! It also showed in his movement and behaviours.
His level of feeling in control and ability to stop the attacker had increased!
The research included travelling around the North West of England, filming 200 players from amateur to pro including players from The Manchester Giants, Moss Side Tropics, Burnley basketball club and Bolton University.
Are you a professional player?
Are you a university wanting to improve performance?
But after a questionable tackle in the box, a defender gave away a penalty
There’s 1 minutes of stoppage time remaining
This is it!
This is the moment where you become a hero or a loser
You need the three points to stave off relegation because anything less than three points send your team down
But you know you’re bad when it comes to saving penalties
YOUR INNER-VOICE IS A THREAT
Your mind begins to wander – your inner voice pipes up…
Why did he have to make that stupid tackle!
If only we scored down the other end when we had the chance!
This player has only missed one penalty in 5 months!
You’ve gone over the data thousands of times!
You know the tendencies of each player on your opponents team and now here you are going one on one with their most feared striker
Again your inner-voice talks to you, trying to persuade you…
He’s more likely to go right, so I’m going right!
But what if he’s going to trick me!?
You see the player take a few steps backwards, poising himself, ready to launch his attack.
The whistle blows…
TIME TO FOCUS
Being a goalkeeper can be a lonely experience
You are the last line of defence
There is plenty of time for your mind to wander, to think…
So when the striker puts the ball on the spot, it’s that moment you need think the right way (focus) rather than the wrong way (distractions)
Every striker will leak information or tells (think poker players). These tells are subconscious signals, that when you understand the meaning, you can anticipate, and as a goal-keeper, anticipating and gaining the psychological advantage is a necessity to your craft.
Strikers don’t even know they are showing these tells!
You might get some strikers who think they are smart and try to fake you out. But let me tell you the thing with fakes.
A fake is identified by an over-exaggerated facial expression or body movement. A widening of the eyes too much for it to be natural is a sure-fire way to know a fake is on its way.
BE CALM AND RELAXED
So as you stand on the goal line, watching the striker place the ball on the spot, you watch and analyse his movements, his facial expressions, the direction of his eyes.
Breathe normally and calm your mind. Allow your mind to focus on the moment, putting all other thoughts to one side, for this moment isn’t one for distractions.
This is a moment to observe, analyse and anticipate for it’s the striker that will tell you what he’s going to do. You just need to know what you’re looking for
It does take time to learn these strategies but think of the rewards saving this penalty will bring you.
The bonus is knowing that these techniques work in the normal run of the game!
Learning to shift your focus away from the ball and onto the attackers movements, and facial expressions allows you to gain an advantage.
Here’s a quick tip – when a ball is crossed in, take note of the flight pattern, the trajectory, speed and anticipate where it’s going. Now shift your attention to the players on the ground and how they are positioning their bodies. It’s this moment you make a decision, go for the ball before the attacker gets it, or
The striker secret weapon has been exposed!
Are you a goalkeeper wanting to improve?
Do you know a goal-keeper who wants to learn how to improve their game?
As a professional or high level sports person, I want you to consider your current reality in terms of your performance.
Before lockdown, was your performance where you wanted it to be?
Do you look at others thinking you’re better than them but for some reason, things aren’t working out for you?
Are you a football (soccer) player that’s hit a slump and is struggling to hit the target?
Are you a defender but attackers are getting the better of you?
You’re current reality is only a blip and can be overcome quickly.
You don’t need to spend hours in the gym
You don’t need to practice more
All you need is an open mind to learning, and before your dismiss this concept, let me tell you a story or two about how quickly you’re able to improve.
A few years ago I worked with a pro basketball player. He was averaging around 5 points a game.
He was in a slump by his own admission.
Something needed to change.
Did he have to spend hours shooting the ball?
Did he have to work on his technical ability?
Did he have to practice under extreme circumstances?
All he had to do was have a shift in perception.
I helped him create that shift in mental perception in about 45 minutes all the while he was sat comfortably in the privacy of his own home, which led to him exploding in his next game for 20 points and hitting an unprecedented 100% from the field!
Imagine how a struggling striker, unable to hit a strike rate that’s expected of them, can benefit from these techniques?
Defenders – Here’s a story for you.
I worked with a player in the USA, a semi-professional who was only curious about my new ground-breaking program.
So we worked together over 6 weeks, talking for an hour. Again she was in the comfort of her own home and we talked over Skype (way before the Zoom explosion!)
Her curiosity and ability to have an open mind to learning allowed her to win her first ever MVP!
Imagine as a professional player, how this improvement can help your career?
To improve quickly doesn’t involve strenuous physical workouts
To improve quickly doesn’t involve training more specifically
To improve quickly involves shifting your mindset.
I want to help you shift your mindset and in this period of lockdown, now is the perfect time for professional players to focus on developing their mental strength using two proven strategies.
If you have an interest in player development either as a sports psychologist, player liaison officer, manager or team mate, or owner, then I invite you to tell me what you think needs to improve for players you know, then let’s have a chat.
Your physical and technical abilities were honed over the years.
Hours of blood, sweat and tears built on a foundation of passion for the game, allowed you to reach a level you dreamed of. You were living the dream, you had made it! But then…
There was one moment that changed how you felt and perceived the game you loved.
Perhaps it was a comment from a manager or coach?
Perhaps you were put out on loan?
Perhaps your form dipped and you were quickly replaced?
Or something else?
Life as a professional athlete has it’s ups and downs and if you are in a place you don’t like, then it’s time to make a decision and make a conscious effort to move out of it.
Just like you spent hours developing your physical and technical skills, how many hours have you worked on developing your mind?
How long did you spend understanding why you think the way you do, act the way you act and react to situations in ways you don’t like, but tolerate the outcomes?
Have you ever wondered why other less abled and skilled players are doing better than you?
Have you ever wondered why others get the breaks you can only dream of?
Let me give you the answer – Your mindset.
Your mind dictates how you react to situations, how you behave in situations and what you say in situations. You can choose to behave and speak differently for improved results, if things aren’t working out for you right now.
OK, there is some luck involved and some of ‘it’s who you know’
So how great would it be if you could turn things around by learning how to react, behave and speak in ways that lead to opportunity?
In these strange times where games and training are cancelled due to Covid-19 (the little buggery virus) now is the perfect time to spend time training your mind so when the season starts again, you are fully prepared and have an edge over competitors because you know you are only a poor game away from losing what you have.
Your mind is so much more powerful now than you can understand and now is the perfect time to tune into that mindset and begin to learn how to get the best out of you.
I have two questions for you.
Do you have an open mind to learning?
If you want things to improve quickly, can you understand the answer exists but you may not be able to accept it?
If the answer is yes to both questions I have good news for you.