This is my opinion drawn fromy years experience of playing, coaching and helping athletes and there are some commonalities and obvious things like working smart, earing the right food, training with purpose
But an elite sports mind doesn’t have to belong to an athlete that’s an elite performer
Of course the elite level is the best of the best but you don’t suddenly become the best
There are steps you need to take and you have to start somewhere
So where do you start? What do you have to know to help you create that Elite Sports mind?
There are many variables and factors that drive someone towards or away from building this mindset so let me share with you the three key variables that I believe helps anyone create that Elite Sports mind
Have a need or desire to improve
Have an open mind to learning new strategy and perspectives
Have the ability to put your new learnings into action
Growth occurs when you’re ready to grow
Growth occurs when you’re ready to challenge your current beliefs and values
Growth occurs when you come out of your comfort zone by thinking and acting differently
I’ve known Mike over the years as someone who has always tried to help when he can, I believe that I needed his advice and knowledge to push me in the right direction at a point in my life when I was ready to make a change for the better.
Had you tried using other methods to help you in the past and what were they? 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 learnt 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 alienged my self with.
What reservations, if any did you have around the coaching? Be honest. I don’t have any reservations really, I believe he does a great job of communicating bit also at balancing listening with talking to me. Sometimes I just need an ear to speak to and vent my thoughts out loud.
What 3 factors about the coaching delivery style stood out for you 1) The simplistic nature of the conversation, not using fancy words or over complicated explanations. 2) His calm nature when speaking made me feel at ease even when before the call I was quite stressed. 3) His availability, it’s something that goes under appreciated but with my ever changing schedule around training Vs personal life it was great to be able to be so flexible with timings.
The coaching is aimed at improving performance and wellbeing. How did the coaching affect your performance and wellbeing? My performance was always something that I judged by stats, now I judged it by my mental state. If I’m in a good mental state it doesn’t matter how i play because my experience will be what I want it to be regardless of the stats. My well being is 100% better because each day I’m just being myself and there’s no bugger comfort in a world filled with false high expectations and fakery.
If you were to recommend Mike to other professional athletes, what would you tell them to expect? To find their true self by removing the unnecessary baggage the world around them has added to their backs.
Do you know a professional athlete who would benefit from this coaching?
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.
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
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
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!
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
If it was, everyone would be playing at a much higher level, everyone would be thriving in life and leaders would be inspiring their teams and productivity would be high. But not everyone makes change easily. People create barriers, excuses and reasons, limiting the ability to change.
The first question that springs to mind is ‘why’ and it’s the answers that tell the story. But before we get into that we need to dig a little deeper.
Before we ask the obvious question ‘why’, we must delve into your psyche and find out if you have a desire or need to change because without that desire, change won’t happen.
The mere thought of change can instil a sense of fear and uncertainty. The fear of the unknown is greater than the desire to change and until the desire to change becomes greater than the fear of the unknown, you’re going to continue with your life as it is.
So the question becomes
“How do I overcome that fear?”
Beliefs And Values
Throughout your life, you’ve experienced many things and through these experiences you’ve created beliefs and values and it’s these beliefs and values you hold today.
For example how you treat others, how you train, what you eat but most importantly how you make decisions.
There are some people that know how to create change quickly and get what they want. They just know what it takes and they thrive. Perhaps you can think of one of those people now?
These people have something in common and it’s this I want to teach you, so you can create that change you desire.
Remember earlier when we asked why everyone isn’t creating change to improve.
Those beliefs and values you created are holding them back. When a belief or value holds you back we have a name for them. These are called limiting or mistaken beliefs.
Your Comfort Zone
Creating change also involves being uncomfortable. You are where you are because your values and beliefs give you comfort. They form part of who you are and being you is comforting. To get different results you have to learn to be “comfortable being uncomfortable“, to step out of your comfort zone so to speak.
Many people perceive coming out of their comfort zone as this huge, scary monster, where emotions will run wild and the world come crashing down leaving a huge chasm of emptiness and pain.
In reality, coming out of your comfort zone is simply thinking differently, experiencing different emotions and acting differently and only lasts a few moments.
Would you be willing to experience a few moments of discomfort to remove yourself from the discomfort you’ve been experiencing for some time?
The Pro Basketball Player’s Story
I remember a professional basketball player writing in his weekly column in a newspaper and in this particular column he wrote about his frustrations in his form. He was known as a scorer and had played for England but he couldn’t get out of his slump and was averaging about 5 points a game. He was stuck and didn’t know what to do.
We connected and spoke for about 45 minutes and all the time we spoke I was listening to his words, asking specific questions with the aim to discover what his limiting or mistaken belief was that was holding him back.
We uncovered the problem and once we did that we began to reframe his thoughts to create a new belief.
On a side note, the relationship between player and coach should be one of respect and trust and mutual understanding because to win and be successful, you need respect, trust and mutual understanding.
Although these three ingredients existed, a simple miscommunication created a mistaken belief and from this belief the player began to behave in a way that supported this belief because he respected, trusted and understood what his coach wanted.
This coach wasn’t trained to explore the ‘why’ and in general many coach programs don’t have these strategies in place which, in my opinion isn’t right. As a coach in any sport, and one of your players is struggling, surely you’d want to know why and how to help, so they can begin to perform well and the team will get more wins? Or is it easier and quicker to bring in an expert?
If there are any coach educators reading this, I’d be happy to discuss ways to integrate these concepts into your program.
We broke down his mistaken belief and reframe his thoughts, creating a new belief, leading him to explode for 20 points, hitting 100% from the field. He kindly wrote in his column and I invite you to read for yourself here the impact it had on his game and to this day, working and helping an England player remove his mistaken belief allowing him to play like he knew he could play, is one of my proudest moments.
The Four Steps To Take
He was able to overcome his fear through understanding and accepting 3 principles.
He had a desire to change
He had an open mind to learning new concepts and perspectives
He was willing to put them into action
He was willing to be uncomfortable for a few moments and create different emotions that allowed him to create change in his performance
He was able to think, feel and act differently.
“It’s the thought of change that will drive you forward or hold you back. Taking action is the simple part”
You can remove the fear of change by giving yourself permission to learn and accept these three principles and be uncomfortable for just a few moments.
let’s recap and list the 4 steps you need to take to create change
Have a need or desire to change (Use the exercise below)
Have an open mind to learning new concepts and perspectives
Accept you’ll come out of your comfort zone but understand that discomfort only lasts a few moments compared with the length of time you’ve been experiencing discomfort or frustration
Put these new concepts and principles into action
Have you had enough of your current situation and want change?
If you feel there’s still doubts but you realise you’re ready to make change, and would like to find out if what I offer can help, get in touch and let’s make things happen.
Do you know someone that’s struggling? Please share this as it could help.
“Coincidence may be described as the chance encounter of two unrelated causal chains which miraculously, it seems merge into a significant event.”
Scratching The Wallpaper! Argh!
Call With Sam
It’s Thursday evening and I feel my time is becoming more limited as I continue to build contacts which is leaving me with things to do, which may impact on my ability to post every day in this blog, albeit two days behind reality. This will be posted on Sunday.
However I remind myself my quest is to become the most sought after mental performance specialist, so lack of time is a good thing!
I spoke with my mate Sam who’s now in Abu Dhabi, (Note – I wrote he lives in Dubai in my last post, apologies) well, he’s back in Wigan now, sent home during Covid-19 but hopes to get back out there and do his thing.
He told me in Cross-Fit there is a fine line between winning and losing and there are stresses and anxieties that exist at the elite level, and I’m sure at the amateur level as well but it’s these two components that exist in all sports and I recognised a need for having a neutral person to talk things through can make a world of difference, which is why I do what I do.
I used to be the best player in England and can argue I’ve been to the top and although I can’t compete as I used to, I can coach others to improve quickly and overcome stress and anxiety.
No matter what sport you play, the issues are all the same. Different sport, same issues and I often think about how it is, what it is.
Let’s me explain…
Is Your Belief Limiting Your Potential?
When you play at a high level, you’ve done a lot to get there and there’s an expectation put on you from others, but also from yourself to continue to compete at that level, if not improve.
You have formed beliefs around how to train and compete yet when you feel stuck, a sense of frustration can kick in, and if not dealt with, can lead to stress and anxiety as you continue to search for a solution, but non are forthcoming, so your mind sits in this place of frustration.
Imagine if you will, a glass door in front of you. You can see where you want to go but you don’t have the key to open the door. Others have given you keys but non fit. You tried making your own keys, but to no avail. You’ve put so much time and energy into finding the right key, you begin to create the illusion, getting through the door, just isn’t possible. You accept this is just as good as it gets and you see others, walking ahead of you.
The answer lies, not in finding the key to the door, but in finding a way round it.
But people are stubborn and set in their ways and will often tell themselves, it’s not possible rather than take a different perspective because the emotion formed from the belief they formed many years ago is stronger than the emotion needed to take a new perspective.
People like to hold onto beliefs formed years ago in very different circumstances, even when they serve no purpose in today’s situation.
Sam said he’d connect me with some of the top competitors in the sport which I’m really excited about to learn more.
Basketball Team Developments
I also had a great conversation with a person who can help me set up the basketball team as a CBS (Community Benefit Society). In the last year although we found success on the court, winning the league and gaining promotion from the fourth tier of british basketball to the third, I felt there were other ways we could engage our community and fans and also give back to others. I had no idea a CBS existed until I had a conversation at the right time with someone at Bury AFC who have established the same model.
I’m excited because this gives us an identity of one that matches our beliefs and values and can help drive us forward.
There is lots to do and explore but this new perspective has given me a new sense of hope and direction and a way to give back because there are three things I want to accomplish
Do what I love to do (help others)
Attract value in the form of money to do what I love to do
Two out of three isn’t bad..i Just need to tick off one more!
Another Iron In The Fire
I do have another iron in the fire so to speak with someone who has a passion for football and doing the right thing. Weirdly he knows some people in basketball that I played against or with. I’m finding more people in football, know people in basketball. Maybe There’s something in this connection???
If you like to read and learn about the business that is football, I strongly urge you to check out his website www.football4football.com
Over the last three days, I’ve been busy stripping walls, preparing them for painting and wallpapering, then painting and wallpapering them and after some incidents that involved scratching a piece of wallpaper I’d just stuck to the wall, and having to take it down, cutting a new piece, I’m done!
Time for some me time. I enjoy the peace and quiet of sitting and just being. No phone, no TV, just a few moments with my own thoughts.
“No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”
The death of a player
The basketball community is a tight knit one and in 2017, one coach I knew, hinted at the suicide of a junior player.
The death of anyone is a sombre experience but when someone takes their own life, I feel the pain of those connect with that person. I have no idea where this emotion came from because I don’t know anyone that committed suicide so perhaps I see it as a waste of a life when I have learned there are always other choices.
But I have to remind myself, the person that died, in that moment only knew of one choice. They couldn’t see any other way to deal with the situation they found themselves.
I do know people that have been taken to the edge and looked at the chasm beneath but decided to give life another go.
I believe it takes more strength to walk away from the act than to actually follow through with it but what message does that say to the loved ones left behind? I don’t have personal experience about the topic so you may ask how I can have such a strong view and you’d be right to ask.
What I’ve learned is each person lives their own unique life and very rarely will even the closest person, know what’s going on in their mind, which leads me to promote the importance and value of understanding one’s mind, so you can build resilience and strength so when challenges present themselves, you know how to think differently so you can act differently.
The teachings of the mind is something that needs to be taught in school because stress and anxiety in teenagers is rising for various reasons that I won’t go into here but suffice to say, I’ve listened to professionals in education and as someone working with disadvantaged youths, I hear a lot about anxiety.
In February 2019 The rate for suicides between children and young people between 15-19 is now three per 100,000 in England, whereas ten years ago it was one per 100,000. Click here for more information
I know an NLP Master Practitioner up in Scotland that delivers sessions to secondary school pupils and it’s my personal opinion, he should be asked to do a lot more to promote NLP in schools because learning the stools and strategies helps young people understand, their thoughts in a positive way.
With the death of the player, I chose to create a CIC or Community Interest Company and offer clubs the opportunity to get the tools to help coaches empower and raise the confidence in their players/humans so the rate of suicides in basketball teams doesn’t increase but self-worth does increase.
I delivered a pilot scheme with one of the local junior teams, but with little interest in continuing the program and a change in coaching personnel it faded. Disappointed I put it to one side. I had yet to master the skills needed to market and promote services in the way to attract the right attention. I allowed myself to become distracted which led to me shifting my focus to football.
I began to reach out to people in football to find out more about mental health and build some connections, speaking with former professional players, coaches and managers. One former player from Manchester United, agreed with what I was trying to do with the CIC and my other work, as did other former players and some of the stories I heard about the treatment of players left me flabbergasted! I was learning more about the professional football game from those who had experienced it first hand.
The program doesn’t just help raise the issue of mental health, but it creates a safe environment that players are encouraged to share their ideas, concerns and examples of what they can do differently with purpose and without being judged, around any topic from mental health to training to meals.
It uses a model called The Inner Circle model, derived from principles from Harvard Business School, NLP and emotional intelligence and if you know any coach wanting to improve the performance and culture of their team, they need to sign up and access the resources.
It’s at this point I need to recap my work all of which I’ve delivered for no personal monetary gain:-
NLP Practitioner acquired
Helped a pro basketball player improve quickly
Designed and delivered a research program based on an Emotional Intelligence program, Evaluating Truth and Credibility.
Successfully helped a former GB basketball player understand the concepts and improve
Helped a football (soccer) player in New York improve so much she won an MVP and began teaching her academy kids the principles
Worked and achieved a degree in Sports Development
Founded a CIC called Youth Sport Solutions (I really need to do something with this and if you are involved in a sports academy or a youth team please get in touch)
Around December 2018, I was contemplating bringing a National league basketball mens team back to Bury. The thought was sparked from a conversation I had with a friend about his idea that didn’t materialise, so I had to make a choice. Do it or don’t do it.
I chose to do it and after finding two other people who wanted to help, the three of us became volunteer directors of a National League basketball team. We won the league in our first year, attracted high calibre players through my strategy.
We were on target to win the league (mathematically, no-one could catch us) and then Covid-19 decided to show it’s face.
In November 2019 I scratched an itch I should have scratched back in 2011 after my NLP Practitioner course, and embarked on my NLP Master Practitioner course, partly to prove to myself I could still study and learn and also to give myself more credibility as I felt I was gaining some momentum in football.
I joined a community that gave me hope, that allowed me to connect with like-minded people and instil hope in others.
In my quest to become the leading Sports Mental Performance Specialist, I had the experience and confidence, I just needed one break…
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
My time as a professional assistant coach
Although I was helping improve the performance of athletes, I was struggling to gain a consistent flow of paying clients, in fact, finding one paying client was a challenge in itself!
Life took over, I had a baby with my wife and I fell into a 9-5 role, my dreams shattered, I 95% committed to the idea of never helping athletes again using the skills, I’d paid thousands for. It wasn’t a good feeling.
But in 2015, I took another leap of faith. I’d been following the Manchester Giants and seen their struggles and thought to myself, I could offer some value and contacted the head coach, Jeff Jones about joining the team as his assistant.
It was a decision that made sense to me. Jeff knew me, I knew Jeff and I’d seen his frustrations on the court and felt I could bring something in to create a balance.
But rather than become his assistant, there were changes coming with a new head coach coming in and at the time I had no idea who it was and I couldn’t even guess so when I found out it was an old adversary, and team mate, I was surprised but excited at the same time.
I first met Yorick Williams when I was 15 years old and he a few months younger than me, at a basketball camp run by Jeff Jones, who was a player back then with Manchester. Jeff asked me to show this young raw kid some technical skills and I remember the passion and hunger to improve burning from Yorick’s eyes.
He wanted to know everything about a simple drill. Were his feet in the right position, did he move the right way, was he doing it right?
Yorick went on to be one of the greatest players in British basketball history and holds the record for most three pointers made in league history.
And here we were about 27 years later, our paths crossing again.
I spoke with Yorick and a couple of other people who ran the club and they agreed to take me on board. There was an announcement in the newspapers and I was officially an assistant coach for the professional basketball team The Manchester Giants.
Being in this role needed an adjustment as to how a professional club was run and needless to say, my eyes were opened in ways I’m going to try to explain tactfully.
I came in with a certain set of expectations. Those expectations were quickly shattered.
Perhaps my attitude was based on naivety but things were not aligned in a way that showed a professionalism.
When a player is asked to drive the minibus from Manchester to Glasgow, something isn’t right.
I learned more about the behind the scenes arrangements and expected things to improve and change. I was promised a few things that never materialised and the sense of putting my faith in others and being let down came flooding back.
After three months I’d had enough. I spoke with Yorick about leaving and it was agreed I would leave. I said farewell to the guys and moved on.
The experience taught me a lot. I never see failure, I see opportunity. I never see a sense of quitting, but removing myself from a situation that’s providing no value to me.
My time as a professional coach had value and that value would serve me well in 2019.
But before then something drastic happened in 2017 that took me on a new path of discovery. Something that shook me into taking action because what happened just wasn’t right!
What criminals and basketball players have in common – Not what you expect!
After the success with the basketball player and actress, I wanted more but my mentor was letting me down and wasn’t providing the mentorship I expected from such a person; I was losing faith in his ability as a mentor and I’ll always remember a conversation I had with another of his mentees, but this isn’t the place to reveal that conversation.
Instead, I focused on expanding my mind and growing my skill set.
I had graduated from University and was working part time (damn government cutting jobs!) and thought it was the perfect time to build my character and skill set and perhaps another career lay ahead of me in the field of Emotional Intelligence.
The Emotional Intelligence Academy in Manchester was intriguing to me and I went across to an information day to find out what it was all about. I met the Director, Cliff, a great bloke with piercing eyes and after hearing about the ETaC (Evaluating Truth and Credibility) course that trained people in the crime industry identify truths and expose lies by analysing facial expressions, verbal cues and body language, I decided I wanted to learn more.
The science was born from the concepts of Doctor Paul Ekman who later helped consult on a popular TV program on SKY called Lie To me starring one of my favourite actors Tim Roth.
I found it fascinating and seriously considered a new career in this field but I was subconsciously attracted to putting these principles into sport and a thought entered my head as I could see how these concepts crossed over into sports and I now understood why I was such a good player when I was younger.
I had to explore this further because basketball needed solutions…or so I thought. More about this later.
Upon completion of the course and having spent a few days with some brilliant people around the world, I suggested to Cliff I wanted to transfer these theories into sport.
He looked at me with interest and agreed but we had to come up with some proof and data.
We came up with a plan which was to film players in a one on one situation and focus the camera on the attacker. By taking this approach, we could identify ‘tells’ and ‘leaks’ which when analysed and learned could give a defender relevant and purposeful information to help them gain an advantage.
But we needed a minimum number of participants and clips to study and use as evidence and Cliff came up with the number of 200 players and 1000 clips and when I first heard this I was, taken back!
Erm. What now!
I did a quick mental calculation in my head that involved recalling how many coaches and players I knew, my reputation in basketball and concluded I could pull it off.
I messaged my contacts and had a great response from players and coaches from professional to National league and amateur and all agreed for me to pick a time slot of around 15 minutes to come down to their training sessions and set up and film.
I had a mobile phone that I did the recording on but soon discovered this wasn’t enough and so Jordan, the son of Cliff who worked at the Academy, lent me a top camera which was a blessing!
Over three months, I travelled around the North West of England filming, reacquainting myself with players and coaches and really enjoying the process.
I remember one day after I’d canned some footage, taking it to the Academy and watching it back on the huge TV screen they use to really focus on the facial expressions. Having such a huge screen really does help identifying ‘tells’!
I had 1000 clips (well, 998 as two clips became corrupted) to analyse and break down so I started the arduous task of watching, pausing, rewinding each clip and making notes of what I observed without judging and after five weeks of intense focus, I had some results and backing up my theory as to why I was such a good player – I read body language and facial expressions really well.
Jordan helped co-write an academic paper (Click here to access it) and now I had to build a training program so I could help others.
I offered it to The National Governing Body of Basketball and even had a meeting with the head of coaching but it went nowhere! I felt exasperated! After all the effort I’d put in and knowing the level of British basketball wasn’t great and something needed to be done, why dismiss this new and powerful training program?
As part of the pilot scheme, I worked with former GB player Devan Bailey who saw and felt the improvements straight away!
I questioned why, and felt British basketball had let me down on two occasions now but I was learning a valuable lesson.
Even if a solution is staring you right in the face, unless you believe there is a problem, you won’t accept or reach out for help.
Sometimes life has a way of telling you to stop doing what you’re doing and to do something else.
It was 2014. I married and was working full time in Halifax/Leeds as a trainer, delivering training for the unemployed, integrating NLP and emotional intelligence concepts into my programs of delivery and was falling into a life of routine with the exception of working with a golfer wanting help with his putting. He continued to grow and win and is now pro and has been for about a year. He kindly said he’d recommend me to other athletes who are struggling.
I spent some time completing a Mindfulness course, A tutoring course and a teaching course so up-skill myself as I felt I needed to keep my mind occupied but something was missing. I had all these new skills and wasn’t doing anything with them. I was frustrated and mad at myself.
But then I had an idea!
I was inspired!
Football is like basketball in many ways, a team sport, defence and offence, close proximity to your opponents. Plus football has the money to invest. Perhaps…just perhaps football would be my saviour!
Find out next time how a call to the USA gave me hope!