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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!

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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

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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?

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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?

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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

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esports mindset Tips

What to do after a mistake

Mistakes happen!

There is no player in the world that doesn’t make mistakes but many people get upset after a mistake, get angry or even turn off the game! Have you experienced one of those?

There are three things you need to learn which will not only improve your performance but grow your confidence as a person when you need it most

Whatever the mistake is, you quickly accept it happened and immediately bring your thoughts back into the moment. Focus on the present and allow any thoughts about what just happened, to leave your mind quickly

Your inner-voice is powerful and it’s this you need to practice. Tell yourself “I’m doing my best” rather than “WTF happened then!” or “I won’t win now!”

These words will bring a calm to your mind and a calm mind is a focused mind

Tell yourself a mistake is simply a way to learn. You learn by repetition, but also by pushing your boundaries and even when you make a mistake during a simple move, you still tell yourself, you can learn from it.

Some really beat themselves up after a mistake that should never happen but remember we all make mistakes and the key is to refocus quickly

This recipe is one you need to learn in order to improve and stay ahead of the competition and remember, the more you practice, the better you get.

You owe it to yourself to keep improving, to grow and develop as a gamer because there a revery few people out there who will guide you in ways you need to be guided. You have a level of accountability to give yourself the best chance you can

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esports mindset

Death and Performance

Death

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

On Thursday I attended my best friend’s funeral, who had tragically and unfairly died of cancer. Someone I had known for 36 years was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in June and despite all attempts of making it go away, nothing worked.

On Thursday I officially said goodbye to him but a thought kept coming into my head.

Was there anything he could have done differently?

The Pirate Recipe

Photo by Mateusz Dach on Pexels.com

We both played basketball and represented our county (England) at different age groups and as he followed a career in teaching, my interest in performance took me another route, and as I sat in the church listening to the vicar and watching the photos of him scroll through on the screen, amidst the tears I was holding back, I asked if there was anything he could have done differently.

In esports and sports to improve, there is a simple recipe to follow

  • Action – this refers to game time, the playing element of the recipe. This is where you pitch your skills against others
  • Reflect – When the game has ended, you should get in to the habit of reflecting
  • Adjust – When you reflect, you analyse what went well and what you can do differently with the aim to improve with each game by making slight adjustments in training and in games
  • Repeat – When you’ve played and analysed, and adjusted you repeat the process knowing you’ve done what you can to improve and strive towards being the best you can be. This is how you improve

I call this recipe the pirate recipe ARAR!

Reflection

Photo by Ismael Sanchez on Pexels.com

My friend had cancer and when I asked myself the question “what could he have done differently” I wonder about the times he put others before himself, the times he went the extra mile, and the stress that comes with being the head of a prestigious boarding school in Harrogate and I have to remind myself, he chose to be that person he presented to the world. It was how he was, that made him happy and helped him thrive. He couldn’t have done anything differently because he was great at what he did and the love for him proved he was someone that thrived in helping others.

Losing is always a possibility

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In the game of life, my friend did everything he could to try to win, to beat the cancer but still came up short and in sports, sometimes you an do all you can to try to win, but on the day, your competition is just better. Perhaps it’s luck, perhaps it’s skill or a combination of both but when you lose, you have to accept it for what it is and make adjustments – ARAR!

Unfortunately for my friend there was no way back from beating cancer. There was no rematch, there was no foul called, it was what it was.

But in esports and sports you get the chance to regroup and figure out what you can do differently and make adjustments

Play because you enjoy it

Photo by Lucie Liz on Pexels.com

Esports and sports should be enjoyable and draw out the best in you as an individual, and the moment that fun is lost, it’s time to reflect and really consider if what you are doing is the right thing for you. Do not accept you have to continue to play when the fun has been taken away. If your wellbeing is being affected, you have to ask why because the amount of time and energy you spend playing esports and sports has value and if that value isn’t appreciated, it’s time to make changes

And as I sit writing this, I ask myself is there anything in my life I can adjust to bring more joy into my life and I know what I have to do.

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esports mindset Tips

Mental Improvement Tip

Shoot the ball

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“Legs!”

I used to play basketball at a high level and these days as much as I enjoy playing more for fitness these days, I still take pride in being the best I can be

Shooting the ball was something I was great at and can still shoot well these days and have to let you know the little trick I use to keep me focused and on my game and why it’s important for you to use this trick

Things won’t always go your way. You will make mistakes during your competitions and its very important you teach yourself to get back on track quickly to avoid your mind wandering and losing even more ground on your competitors so you need to consciously do something to jerk your mind back into action

Recognise The Fault

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

When I miss a shot that’s short, I know it’s because I didn’t have enough power in my shot. When I don’t have enough power in my shot I know I didn’t bend my legs enough. Rather than curse under my breath or look to blame something, I utter the word ‘legs’, out-loud

This verbal cue is a clear signal to my brain to make an adjustment quickly and prepare for next time I shoot

Purposeful Self-Talk

Photo by David Cassolato on Pexels.com

Purposeful self-talk will help you clear your mind and pull you back into the moment where you can continue to compete with a positive adjustment

I was speaking with a FIFA pro earlier and I shared my story with him and after I explained the concept and purpose, he came up with a word and anchored the word to a new positive thought that will give him another tool in his box of tricks when he competes, meaning he’s improved in a subtle way, but nonetheless, improved

Your Reality

What word can you use and what meaning can you attach or anchor to that word so when you make a mistake, you can utter that word quickly and refocus?

I invite you to comment and ask questions as you deserve to improve as a player and stay ahead of the competition

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Academy esports mindset

Winning!

How did you win?

Winning is simply an outcome

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

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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:

  • Reality
  • Vision
  • Communication
  • Expectations
  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Relationships

Stay ahead of the competition

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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

Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

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.


Final Thoughts

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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?


Compete with purpose!

Mike

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#mental health esports mindset

Esports – Not just bright lights and amazing content

Burnout at 23!!!

https://esportscontinental.com/uzi-officially-retires-from-league-of-legends/

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”.

THE IMPACT

“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.

THE GROWTH

https://fnatic.com

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)

THE DILEMMA

Balance

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 “we anticipate 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

League Of Legends Final 2019

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.

Live with purpose

Mike