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Inner Voice

What is self-talk and how does it effect your life?

What is self-talk?

Self-talk refers to your inner-dialogue.  Oftentimes your inner voice reflects your internal biases and judgements.  Therefore self-talk is something we do throughout the day.

This could be planning your day mentally, reminding yourself of things that need your attention or observations.

Self-talk doesn’t always reflect your true feelings  or opinions, but learned biases, passed down by your parents.  Or a reflection of things you are constantly hearing.

The 3 types of self-talk

There are 3 common types of self-talk; neutral, positive and negative.

Neutral self-talk

These are general observations you make throughout the day.  Like recognising the cold or a smell.  Basically these thoughts have neither positive or negative connotations.

Positive self-talk

These are thoughts that make us feel good about ourselves and our environment.  It is focused on treating yourself with kindness and compassion.

They can help us mitigate the effects of stress and anxiety and fend off feelings of depression.  Positive self-talk greatly improves your quality of life.  For example you might say “You’ve done well today”, or “that didn’t go to plan but what can you do differently next time?”

Negative self-talk

It can take many forms and can sound like the musings of your inner-critic.  Therefore it limits your ability to believe in yourself and reach your potential.

Moreover, it diminishes your ability to make positive changes and lowers your confidence.  With lower confidence, it can have harmful effects on your mental health and increase feelings of stress, anxiety and lead to depression.

Negative self-talk can also alter your perception of reality, making you think others are out to get you or even hold grudges against you, due to your own preconceived notions.

The effect on athletes

As one of my clients said:

“I’ve tried sports psychologists, read over 15 self-improvement books, I’m constantly trying to understand my mind and the minds of those that are successful, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned from working with Mike is that my biggest asset is myself and I can tap into that without any special tactics or interventions when I let go of the habits and social constructs I’ve aligned myself with.  My wellbeing is 100% better

Through recognising his biggest asset is himself, he took back control of his inner dialogue and created change in a way that worked for him.

To find out more about self talk visit us by clicking here

Categories
mindset

Alternative to using a sports psychologist

What’s an alternative to using a sports psychologist?

“I expected a better personal performance but nothing this drastic!  This is the first time in my 10-plus-year career, I’ve scored 20 points and not missed a single shot”

Let me give you the back-story to this quote.

In 2013, A professional basketball player wrote a weekly column in a newspaper and one week he wrote about his struggles and his inability to create the change he wanted.

He was known as a scorer, had represented England but had lost his scoring touch and had no idea why.

Being a basketball guy with a new set of skills to try, I reached out to him offering my time to listen to him and to see if we could create a change.

We arranged a time to talk on the phone.  He spoke openly and honestly, and as I listened, I pulled out my new bag of tricks at relevant moments, asking specific questions, which allowed him to consider new perspectives to try on and I remember him pausing for a moment after I suggested something particular about miscommunication and in hindsight, this was his breakthrough moment.

Our call lasted around 45 minutes and I for one, had no idea what would happen at his next game which was the night after.

I didn’t make contact with him after the game but remember having a conversation with him and he telling me he would love to write about his experience and give me a mention in his article, which you can read here.

In his own words, he told of his drastic turnaround and unbelievable performance.  I was really happy for him and pleased the money I’d invested in my personal development had helped someone overcome their struggles.

What method did I use to help him? Was it therapy, counselling? Was this an alternative to sports psychology?

Other alternatives to sports psychologists

Therapy – Therapy is working with the client who seeks relief from psychological or physical symptoms and deals with the client’s mental health. Coaching deals with the client’s mental growth

Training – The trainer by definition is the expert, and the training course is likely to be targeted on specific skills for immediate results

Consultancy – A consultant provides expertise and solves business problems, or develops a business as a whole. A consultant deals with the overall organisation or specific parts of it and not individuals within it

Teaching – Teaching passes knowledge from teacher to student. The teacher knows something the student does not. The opposite is true in coaching. The client is the expert and the client has the answers, not the coach

Mentoring – Mentoring is when a senior colleague, seen as more knowledgeable and worldly wise gives advice and provides a role model. A mentor is a sponsor with great professional experience in their client’s field of work

Counselling – Counselling is working with a client who feels uncomfortable, or dissatisfied with their life. They are seeking guidance and advice

What method had I used? 

In the 1970’s two men at the University of California, Santa Cruz, John Grinder, a linguist, and Richard Bandler, an information scientist and mathematician developed Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)

Bandler modelled the methods used by Virgina Satir (1916-1988), American author, social worker, and internationally esteemed family therapist; co-founder of the Mental Research Institute (MRI) in Palo Alto, California.

Bandler also modelled the work of Fritz Perls, (1893–1970), who developed a form of psychotherapy that he known as gestalt therapy. Influenced by Perls’ work, Bandler formed study groups and gave workshops, that were cantered around gestalt therapy.

Bandler and Grinder teamed up, to study the principles that governed the language structure of gestalt therapy. They wanted to define the techniques and skills used by successful therapist.

What was the difference that made the difference?

Bandler and Grinder did whatever worked and removed didn’t work. They studied the work, writings and recordings of Perls and Satir, to extract the essence that made these two therapists exceptional.  (Source)

The NLP strategies I used with the basketball allowed him to understand his reality and what he needed to do differently then take action, all of which he did brilliantly. 

The added value of emotional intelligence

Around the same time with a new open mind to learning and a thirst to learn more, I enrolled on an emotional Intelligence course called Evaluating Truth and Credibility, delivered by The Emotional Intelligence Academy

The course was aimed at helping you understand and identify misalignments in communication between body language and verbal content with the aim to spot when someone is lying or trying to cover up the truth.  I found it fascinating and as the course went on, my mind sought out possibilities to use these concepts in sports, specifically basketball, after all basketball players attempt to trick the opponents and use fakes to gain an advantage.

Having completed the course and now with a heightened, weird sense of wanting to stare at people, I and the director of the Academy, had a conversation about moving my idea forward.  He suggested establishing a test condition with players playing 1 on 1 and gathering film to analyse and break down.  We needed evidence and scientific data to support the theory that players can improve quickly when they learn how to read body language and facial expressions.

The research

For the next 3 months I travelled around the North West of England filming players from professional to amateur, banking 1000 clips of 200 players.  Now the easy part was done, I had to watch these clips over and over and spot commonalities, removing what was useless and using what was useful in an attempt to extract data and then create some kind of program.

Thankfully one of the Director’s son’s Jordan, gave me a helping hand every now and again with the use of the studio and the huge screen they used when analysing facial expressions, making spotting the tells, a lot easier than staring at a 15″ screen.

Now I had a program, what could I do with it? 

Not long afterwards, I had an opportunity to work with another former England player.  I coached him to integrate the new tools into his defensive game which allowed him to improve right there, on the basketball camp he and I were coaching on.

So now with NLP and emotional intelligence training under my belt, I set myself the challenge of creating a new practice to help people overcome struggles and improve performance.

The positives and negatives

Using the best bits of both practices and removing what was useless, I went on to help a female soccer player/psychologist in New York win her first ever MVP in 25 years which again spurred me on to connect with more athletes.

My journey took an unexpected route because I was finding there were many former and current athletes struggling with issues that affected their performance and wellbeing.  Unable to reach out for help, they tolerated their situation and some lost out on some great opportunities such as the football player who was on the verge of signing for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), but missed out because he didn’t have the opportunity to reach out and explore how and why his mind was talking him out of taking that opportunity.

The more people I spoke with, the more I learned.  The more I learned, the more I adapted what I now call the Neuro Emotional Awareness Training (NEAT) program.

Using the same principles but different delivery methods to suit the client, here are some of the success stories over the years:

Powerful words from clients

“MY WELLBEING IS 100% BETTER. I’ve tried sports psychologists, I’ve read over 15 self-improvement books, I’m constantly trying to understand my mind and the minds of those who are successful, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned from working with Mike is that my biggest asset is myself and I can tap into that without any special tactics or interventions when I let go of the habits and social constructs I’ve aligned myself with“ Pro basketball player


“I’ve never experienced coaching like this before? Mostly in books I’ve read they give you techniques like visualisation, positive self-talk and body language etc which I find useful, but in this program I actually get to know who I am and what I stand for: I’ve started to realise what are the things that distract me, and the people who negatively influence me. I’ve actually learned to be aware of my thoughts“ Football (soccer) player – Finland


“Definitely since I first spoke to you I haven’t felt any negative thoughts or anxiety completely at all which is fantastic!”  Football player – UK


“I expected a better personal performance but nothing this drastic! This is the first time in my 10-plus-year career I’ve scored 20 points and not missed a single shot.”  Pro Basketball Player – UK


“I am continuing to apply the technique without much thought needed. “I won my first ever MVP!”  Soccer player – USA


“Yes, can definitely recommend with golfers or other sportsmen, it can help anybody improve in their sport”  Pro golfer – UK


“The amount I’ve improved the last month is CRAZY! Your help is honestly incredible”  esports FIFA Pro – UK


The value in talking

Their words keep me driving forward and wanting to help others who are struggling but to those athletes struggling I say this:

Of those who have struggled in the past, the majority have said they wished they had spoken up sooner and sought help sooner, which could have helped them avoid avoid therapy or counselling

It can be difficult to reach out to your coach, agent, or team psychologist because there is the association with the club and that association can be enough to put someone off from asking for help because you might be fearful of being exposed as weak or fear being judged or criticised for asking for help, which in turn jeopardises your career and livelihood.

As you can see, we are much different than sports psychologists

Our alternative to a sports psychologist

As an individual, one alternative to using a sports psychologist is accessing the NEAT system from the comfort of your own home, in your own time WITHOUT the fear of being judged or criticised and without the fear of your words or experiences getting back to anyone because our primary goal is to help you for your sake.  We will only share your experiences if you give us permission, if you think your experiences can teach others.

Get in touch if:

  • You’re struggling and feel like quitting
  • You feel alone
  • You feel you can’t live up to expectations
  • You don’t trust some of your friends
  • You’ve struggled with confidence in your head

When you get in touch and I listen to your thoughts, I can offer you:

  • The space to be confident
  • Confidential and discreet 1-2-1 coaching
  • Non-judgemental service without criticising
  • Accessible and flexible contact methods
  • Proof that the coaching works from past successes

Should you decide to hire our company to help you, know that:

  • Together we will remove your struggles and rediscover your love for the game
  • Together we will form a partnership of trust
  • Together we will learn what your expectations are
  • Together we will help your mind find balance and calm
  • Together we will improve your status

How we can help sporting organisations

As a professional sporting organisation, we understand success on and off the field of play is essential to your brand, your fans and investors and when a player’s performance drops, losses can come quickly, putting everyone under pressure and as a former high level player and professional coach, I know more than most, what that pressure feels like. 

As a sporting organisation, by hiring us, you instantly remove the distraction of managing the mental performance of the player, and let us do the hard work for you, so you can focus on what you do best. 

Will coaching be used as a replacement for sports psychologists?

Sports psychology and coaching are two very different methods of engagement, each with their merits and strategies. Exploring coaching options when sports psychology is drawing a blank would be the smart option and vice versa. You have to find a way that works for you based on past results and experiences.

What can you do now?

Explore your options, and there is no better way to explore your option than speaking with a professional.

Visit us at elitesportsminds23 or drop us a message

Categories
Tips Uncategorized

Top 7 tips to improve sports performance

Being an athlete requires some level of dedication but dedication doesn’t necessarily equate to improving.

I see many athletes, going through the motions and ‘competing’ yet they don’t improve and I always ask the question why do they play, and over the years there’s some commonalities I’ve learned that stop a person from improving.

Here are my top 7 tips to improving your sports performance

  1. Have a need or desire to improve – I’ve learned some athletes are content being where they are and their current performance level and that’s fine. Each to their own so to speak but these people don’t have a need or desire to improve. They have a desire or need to stay the same and until that desire or need to improve, becomes greater than the desire or need to improve, good luck to them!
  2. Have an open mind to learning new concepts and perspectives – If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got, said Henry Ford, the automotive tycoon. When you go through the same training routines at the same level of effort, having the same attitude towards training and playing, you will always get the same outcomes. Improving involves pushing yourself to come out of your comfort boundaries which means learning how to think and act differently.
  3. Take action – It’s one thing to learn new concepts and strategy and a whole new ball game when you actually take action. I see some athletes learning new strategy then when the moment comes, they fail to take action. There are a few reasons why this happens
  4. Perspective; don’t fear the change, embrace the opportunity – When you learn a new concept or perspective, one reason that stops a person from taking action is fear. Some people don’t like change because it takes them away from what they know and what’s comfortable, yet no-one ever improved by staying comfortable in their own bubble. Change should be seen as an opportunity and with this opportunity comes excitement
  5. Know the power of self-talk – As we just realised, the perspective of approaching a new situation can elicit fear or excitement which ties in with the power of self-talk. What you say begins a series of thought processes and your synapses begin to fire which release emotions. When you talk about fear and negativity, your body and mind will begin to act in a way to protect itself, to keep it safe, but when you talk about opportunity and excitement, your mind and body will begin to act in a way that helps you grow and improve. But beware, if improving your self-talk is new to you, your old thinking habits may try to hijack you and drag you backwards. Stay strong and practice positive self-talk
  6. Know your coach probably doesn’t have the solutions to your need to improve – This harsh reality is common for many competitors and although there are some coaches that understand what it takes to improve, many are too focused on strategy, techniques and plays, leaving players frustrated. As a player you have a right to understand what the coach wants from you and it’s reasonable to ask your coach questions. Some coaches believe they are the be all and end all of communication, placing themselves onto a pedestal, creating an environment where the coach tells the player what to do and the player complies with their instructions. This style of coaching is becoming obsolete as a new breed of coach understands the value of listening to players and understanding their perspective. The question you can ask any coach to help you improve is “what can I do to help the team?” The answer will prompt a new thought from the coach and the answer he gives you will give you clarity on your next moves
  7. Don’t follow the crowd for the sake of it – To improve means doing things differently and if that means doing things that the crowd don’t do, then go and do it. As a younger basketball player I took on many of the tips I’m sharing with you now and at only 5′ 7″ in a game full of much taller, stronger players, I had to do things differently but it was this different approach that led me to be voted the MVP of the England U19 basketball team at a tournament in Etten Leur, Holland. Learn to be bold and set your own standards

BONUS

As you learn and grow, you will make mistakes but know a mistake is just an act that didn’t give you the expected outcome at that moment in time. Go again and make the necessary adjustments.

Are you ready to improve but want some support?

Here at Elite Sports Minds 23 we have created the NEAT System – a proven system that gets results. To find out more click here

Categories
#mental health

Comparing mental health with physical health – solutions

The Similarities

When comparing mental health and physical health its important to you that you understand the reality for many people in this world so you know what to do and what to say because this hard hitting blog will open your perspectives in new ways.

I’ll put to one side clinical mental and physical health because those issues deserve much more attention so this blog focuses on general mental and physical health.

Let’s look at the similarities

  • Everyone experiences physical and mental health
  • Both fluctuate depending on life choices
  • Both can improve
  • Both can decline
  • Both have support organisations offering help
  • Not everyone will experience negative mental and physical health
  • Some take both very seriously
  • Some live a life where both aren’t an issue
  • Some live a life where both are an issue
  • Both are the results of experiences and life choices

The Differences

  • You can see the results of one

We are quick to judge when we see others. It’s how we are programmed in our unconscious minds to keep the human race alive and so we judge people by their looks to help us connect and realise if that person is worthy of our time and attention.

We are social animals so we have to create judgements so we create a social circle that meets our beliefs and values so we fit in and have a support mechanism around us.

Looks Aren’t Everything

The world is full of people of all shapes and sizes and we are quick to judge their physical health based on what they look like.

We see all different types of body types, colours, shapes, heights and we create a judgment based on our expectations and beliefs of the world that allow us to understand what we see and we make judgements on the type of person they may be without actually speaking with them.

Is it fair we judge others without getting to know them?

We form opinions of them just as they form opinions of us.

Let’s say you see someone across the room at a party and they are overweight. It would be easy to say their health is at risk and assume they struggle with phsycial activity. But once a conversation starts, you learn more about their situation and the initial judgment melts away as you create a new understanding and appreciation for them as a human being.

Hiding Behind The Mask

Physical health is obvious and when we consider sports, we know when an athlete is out of shape.

Their data is poor, their times are poor and by looking at how they move, you can tell where they are at through comparing their data and movement with others. There is no hiding from having poor physical health as an athlete.

But mental health can be hidden behind a select few words “I’m OK coach, I’m just tired”, “I’ll get over it. I only missed a penalty”, “it’s another loss but I’ll put more work in”.

Hiding behind this mask not only sends the wrong message to others, but it questions your self-worth, creating a dangerous mix of incongruence and hiding the truth, meaning others and yourself will continue to behave as though nothing is wrong.

Making Choices

As I mentioned earlier there are many similarities between physical and mental health and deciding to do something about it when things are going wrong is a choice.

There are people out there who don’t value their physical health. They will continue to eat junk food, take no exercise, drink too much and live a life that’s over endulgant, even though they know their health is at risk and accept they will work it out for themselves and they will be ok

In the same breath, there are people who don’t value their mental health. They are overwhelmed, feeling stuck but feel they should work it out for themselves and they will be ok.

There’s a lesson I’ve learned over the years that I want to share with you because as much as we don’t like to think of people suffering on their own and there has to be more done to help, we have to accept some people don’t want help.

A New Perspective

But knowing not everyone wants help, we can provide help for those that need help. We have to push harder to provide cultures and environments where admitting you’re struggling, admitting you’re finding it hard, admitting you’re in a challenging place and you need help, is seen as courageous and normal.

These environments and cultures need to be implemented in professional sports and within organisations and anywhere where there’s human interaction and responsibility.

Empowerment And Self-Worth

We have to encourage individuals to appreciate, the choices they make will impact on their health.

We have to encourage individuals to understand what you do doesn’t define you but rather who you are defines you. A person shouldn’t be defined as a footballer that’s made a mistake. A person shouldn’t be defined as a player who’s no longer good enough. A person should be defined through how they approach a problem or challenge and if needed, offered the right support.

What Next?

If this blog has allowed you to understand mental health a little better, please comment and share with your network because as you know, you can’t see mental health issues but you can put information in front of a person, allow them to digest it and make a choice.

Categories
Tips

Top Ten Tips to win at professional sports

Many like the idea of being a professional sports person, the money, the competition and in some cases the fame and the rewards that come with that, yet there are many that don’t know what it takes to win.

When I say win, I’m not just talking about the end result on the scoreboard, but how to navigate the ups and downs that being a professional sports person can bring.

Over the years, I’ve gathered a lot of information from books, experiences and players and come up with this top ten list that any player can take right now, and begin to implement to see results almost immediately.

Are you ready?

Are you sure you want to start to win?

Ok, great then let’s do this!

  1. Have an open mind to learning – Up to this point, you’ll have a perspective, down from your experiences, but it’s important to remember there are other perspectives out there that have value
  2. Ask questions – I was speaking to one football player a few weeks ago who told me he felt lost and under-appreciated. He talked, I listened, and concluded the manager didn’t appreciate him because he was keeping himself to himself. We came up with a plan to ask a specific question and as soon as he asked that question, he felt the anxiety lift almost immediately. The question he asked was “What can I do to help this team improve?”
  3. Consider a plant based diet – There have been many studies, programs and positivity around athletes having a plant based diet. One thing that stood out for me was the blood samples taken from meat eaters and the plant based diet athletes. The plasma in the meat eaters was cloudy that meant the oxygenated blood struggled to flow and be distributed around the body. The plant-based diet athlete’s plasma was clear and flowed more effectively around the body.
  4. Social media is to be used sparingly and not to voice your anger and frustrations towards others
  5. Look after your mental health and wellbeing – There will be times you will be asked to do things that aren’t in line with your beliefs and values and this can affect your mental health in a negative way. Consider your options before saying yes because too many incidents of doing things that don’t feel right, will lead you down path that can be difficult to come back from. Know there are specialists that can help you overcome these issues, I included, and have tools and strategy that can help you quicker than you imagine. Asking for help isn’t a weakness, it’s a smart move to make sure you the person and athlete thrive in a very hostile environment
  6. Engage with a trustworthy person to manage your finances – There are a lot of fraudsters out there that want your money. They will promise you a high return in an investment opportunity and if the rate is high, it’s more likely to be a con.
  7. Train smart – The manager and coach will be judging you in training. Aim to be the first one there and the last one to leave. Be humble enough to help set up or clear up after a session. This is what you get paid for , so put the work in and good things will happen
  8. Play with a passion – The TV camera’s and the fans will be watching and hoping you play well. They are indirectly investing their money and time into you and they want to see someone play with passion. Theres nothing worse to see a player playing half arsed in a losing effort. In addition when your career ends, you can look back and be proud of what you accomplished because you did the best you could with what you had.
  9. Rest and recover – Your body needs rest and recovery after a competition, so make sure you do all the right things to make sure you recover well and quickly. The last thing you want is an injury that never heals properly and your career from the moment, is one of pain and anguish because you know you’ll never again be the athlete you were before the injury.
  10. Enjoy it – Your time as an athlete is limited compared with other careers, so enjoy the time as a professional athlete.

If any of these tips resonate with you, please take action and give yourself the best chance of succeeding as a professional.

Stay safe

Mike