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My Journey

The Journey To Become The Most Sought After Sports Mental Performance Specialist Part 6

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Will Durant

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!

Find out what that was next time.

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My Journey

The Journey To Become The Most Sought After Sports Mental Performance Specialist Part 4

“The key to success is failure”

Michael Jordan

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.

Mike Nichols

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!

Categories
My Journey

The Journey To Become The Most Sought After Sports Mental Performance Specialist Part 2

“Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation.”

Michael Jordan

When I got back home…

Something wasn’t sitting right with me.

Before I was leaving to head home and just before Ali made the comment about me being a great NLP Practitioner, he was waiting in a room with his staff, I believe his business partner and his PA and I went in and asked if there was anything I could do for him.

I was a little bit star struck as he presented himself as a celebrity Life Coach and had worked with Kelly Rowland and others and he talked the talk so I was happy to help him out and I thought showing my eagerness would show him I was serious about making a go of this NLP career.

But on my way back after completing the task he asked me to do, I turned the corner to the room and was met by faces that looked like they had just been caught discussing me behind my back. You know that sudden silence and blankness?

In hindsight, I should have said something but what do you say in those moments?

I left it, did what i needed to do and made my way back home.

NLP was new and exciting and I was eager to try it out and follow his instructions on how to make it in the self-development world.

This was it! This was the start of something special. I’d take my new skills, begin to help people, they would pay me handsomely and the world would be a better place.

But I had other things going on and my focus wasn’t as great as it could have been. I had applied to become a Games Maker for the 2012 Olympic Games and I was travelling down to London for Test Events and training. For a year I was part of the Process and in 2012 I was selected to be a basketball Games Maker filling the Field Of Play role, meaning, I was to be courtside for games! I had one vision for that Olympics which was to be sat court-side for the men’s final and I was determined to make sure it happened.

It was the night before the final and up to now I had been a professional volunteer and created memories and friends that I cherish even today. Watching the best players in the world compete close up was unreal!

One of the volunteers, Craig and I sat in a bar and talked about the final as we had both been selected to volunteer that game and we both knew the positions would be posted in the morning. We wanted to be posted in positions we wanted to be in. So we decided to text the manager and let him know the exact spots we wanted to accompany in the second half and waited.

The next morning as we checked the list, we broke out in huge smiles!

For the men’s final I was sat mid-court watching the USA take on Spain. I kept shifting my vision from the court to the people behind me, specifically the area where VIP’s were gathered including Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Stern,Boris Johnson and I believe David Beckham and Mark Zuckerberg. I sat still, taking in the atmosphere and feeling great because I took action to make this moment happen.

In 2013, I got a new lease of life and a focus.

I’m a basketball player and coach, so helping basketball players was first on my agenda. I started to research and found a newspaper column in the local paper the Manchester Evening News, written by a current player on the Professional basketball team The Manchester Giants.

I had a connection with the team, a friend who was the physio but also to the coach, Jeff Jones, whom I’d known for about 20 years. I knew a few of the players as well.

He told the readers he was struggling and wanted to get out of his slump, so naturally I reached out to him and we agreed to chat on the phone. I’d implement the NLP strategies I’d learned and it was this conversation that led to him writing an article on how he turned his game around.

Not only did he go from averaging 5 points a game and struggling, he exploded for 20 points and hit 100% from the field, a rarity in basketball!

But don’t take my word for it…read his column here.

After you’ve read the article, join me next time in part 3 as to why I hooked up with an actress!


Has the quick improvement of an athlete intrigued you?

Would you like to know how?

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How Can You Help Me?

How I Can Help You In Your Moment Of Crisis

The very first thing you have to do is accept you aren’t in a place you want to be AND you want to do something about it.

Struggling and Tolerating

Many athletes struggle but think things will get better, things will change and struggling is part of the job. They tolerate and try to shoulder the burden and anxiety. They try to figure it out themselves or ask family and friends for their advice, which is nice, but unless your family and friends have the skills necessary to help you, the frustrations will linger.

Yet those few people who thrive, know differently.

They know a moment of crisis needs to be dealt with because if it isn’t the path to self-destruction isn’t too far away.

They know they need to do something about it!

You deserve to thrive again

Consider what you’ve been through to get to where you are as a professional athlete

You’ve spent hours, days, weeks, months, years, developing your physical and technical abilities to get you to where you are today.

You’ve challenged yourself, pushed yourself and lived a life, very few people on the planet can say they lived.

Perhaps you’ve had great sponsorship

Perhaps you’re very well paid

Perhaps you’ve won awards

Perhaps you’ve even won a World Cup and been number 1 in the world?

But something changed

Something isn’t right and when was the last time you had mental performance training?

Honestly….

I didn’t think so.

There is no club, NGB, college or university that trains you in mental performance coaching

Listen, I’ve spoken to current and former professionals and one thing they all say is they wished they had reached out sooner rather than later, or had someone they could trust, to contact in that moment of crisis.

You always have options. You always have other perspectives to consider, but most of the time, these choices and options are either hidden from you as others try to manipulate you, or you are that stressed out, you can’t see the answer, even it came up behind you and kicked you in the ass!

How Can I Help You?

I can help you by listening to you without judging

I can help you by understanding your situation

I can help you by understanding you and not using jargon that just confuses you

I can help you understand how to move forward quickly in a discreet and confidential manner.

Only you and I need to know what’s said between us because once you’re thriving again, others will benefit from your improved performance including your family, team-mates, coach and others who put their faith in you like the fans.

If you know someone who is in a crisis moment, and you know this by their mood change and poor performance, let them know you can help by asking them to read this post then click here to start moving away from stress and towards thriving

Categories
mindset

Basketball Players – OutSmart Your Opponent With This Simple Shift Of Perspective

WINNING

There’s no better feeling than winning!

There’s no better feeling than getting an edge on your opponent and feeling you are getting the better of them.

You lock them down and limit their ability to do what they do best

CONTROVERSIAL CONCEPTS

What I’m going to tell you, some may find controversial.

Traditionally, basketball players when being taught defence are taught to focus on the chest area of the attacker because this is the only part of the body they can’t fake. That makes sense until you discover another perspective.

Another perspective that was born from experience, research, pilot schemes and live performance, will tell you that this traditional method needs to be left behind.

GB PLAYER TEST

In a test, one former GB player, Devan Bailey was coaching on a camp I was also coaching on a few years ago in Bury up in the North of England. Devan is a quiet guy, humble yet intelligent and when I approached him with this new strategy to try out, he was open to it.

I explained the concepts to him and he took them on board. As a baseline I asked him to give me a number from 1 to 10 as to how in control and his confidence was in stopping the attacker, before the exercise and he gave me a number. After the exercise I asked him the same question and the number had increased! It also showed in his movement and behaviours.

His level of feeling in control and ability to stop the attacker had increased!

Just by shifting his perspective.

ACCESS YOUR COPY HERE

To outsmart your opponent with a simple shift of perspective, click here to access the academic paper and methods, for free.

The research included travelling around the North West of England, filming 200 players from amateur to pro including players from The Manchester Giants, Moss Side Tropics, Burnley basketball club and Bolton University.

Are you a professional player?

Are you a university wanting to improve performance?

Get in touch by clicking here

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esports What is a Specialist Mental Performance Coach?

What Is A Specialist Mental Performance Coach?

The Power Of Your Mind

Your Mind Drives You

Your mind is what drives you

Your mind decides whether you succeed or fail, yet many athletes don’t understand this, and it’s my job to help educate and support you to not only understand your mind, but how to think differently for improved results.

Why Am I A Specialist?

Why am I A specialist?

I’m a specialist in my field – mental performance coach for athletes around the world and please allow me to elaborate and share my experience with you

  • Voted by coaches as the best player in England on the England U19 basketball team aged 17
  • Voted by coaches as one of the top 20 players (All-Star selection) in the second tier of British basketball (At only 5′ 7″ I had to take a different approach to the game to succeed)
  • NLP Master Practitioner
  • Through a research project involving filming 200 players and analysing 1000 clips, I co-wrote an academic paper and developed the world’s first emotional intelligence program for football (soccer) and basketball players.
  • Mindfulness Practitioner
  • Training and development consultant for a National company
  • Assistant Professional coach for The Manchester Giants
  • Helped athletes in football, golf and basketball to improve performance quickly
  • Mental Health advocate
  • Degree in Sports Development
  • Voluntary Director of a National League Basketball Team

Does All That Really Matter?

Who Cares What I’ve Achieved?

In all my time of working, not one of my clients asked me to prove my experience or to see my qualifications.

Many people really don’t care what I’ve achieved, because all they care about is what I can do for them, so you can put aside my experiences and qualifications and know, you are at the centre of my support.

I don’t use jargon because I want to understand you and I want you to understand me. When we understand each other, great things will happen.

Move Forward Quickly

Move forward quickly

It’s your mind and your thoughts, that I’m interested in. The more I know, the more I can help and the more open and honest you are with me, the quicker we can move you from crisis to thriving.

There are two factors that are influencing you right now and keeping you from moving forward

  • Your perception of your reality
  • Your expectations of self and others

Your perception of your reality isn’t aligned with your expectations and it’s this misalignment that leads you to a crisis point.

But don’t worry. You will soon understand how to move on from the crisis point and begin to thrive and improve your opportunities.

Take Action

Take Action

When someone is experiencing crisis, one of two things can happen.

  • They won’t take action and the feelings of anxiety, fear, guilt etc will grow and manifest, leading the person down a dark path as they hope things will get better.
  • They will take action and see the light, not at the end of the tunnel, but closer. Those feelings of anxiety and fear will quickly dissipate, replaced with a new inner-strength and courage and talking of courage. Reaching out for help is courageous, not a sign of weakness, as many others will try to make you believe.

CLICK HERE TO BE COURAGEOUS!

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motivation

Learn To Motivate Yourself Like Michael Jordan

The Last Dance is the docuseries currently showing on Netflix which gives new insights into the final NBA season of the Chicago Bulls Championship winning team.

The team that some dubbed The Beatles” was one of the most, if not, the most dominant team in sports history at the time, and watching the behind the scenes footage is spellbinding!

Titled The Last Dance, coined, because everyone knew this was the last time this current group of players would be together due to management decisions, which you get to learn more about in the programmes.

But it was the conversations and sound bites around Michael Jordan’s mindset that had me transfixed and the way in which he motives himself to play better is extraordinary, but possible to learn and I wanted to share this idea so you, the athlete can give it a go and see how it affects your performance.

During lockdown, you can at least, practice training your mind to think along these lines.

Jordan was known for his competitive nature and two stories stand out for me.

A player for Washington, LeBradford Smith had a great game scoring 37 points against Jordan while Jordan had an off game.

The story goes that Smith said something to MJ (no spoilers) that motivated him for the next game between the two teams the next night. Watch episode 8 to find out what happened.

In another story, a friend of Jordan, a coach from an opposing team, didn’t acknowledge Jordan in a restaurant, an act Jordan took offence to. Jordan had a word with himself and then went out to demolish the team his friend coached.

There are different ways in which you can motivate yourself and the uniqueness of Jordan was to instil an emotion so strong, he would do whatever it takes to perform at a higher level than the opponent.

He needed a reason to go out and kick their butt!

So he would create a reason using anything from newspaper articles to a look or comment to light his fire.

So let’s get down to the psychology of this mindset.

I am not MJ’s mind so I don’t know exactly what he thinks, but I can apply theory to help you create the same mindset.

Your thoughts are made up of movies or pictures, words and sounds and from these thoughts, you create an emotion.

So let’s reverse engineer this and start with an emotion asking ourselves, what emotion do you need to create to improve your play against your opponent?

Hatred, revenge, a sense to prove them wrong. A sense to prove to yourself you can beat them?

In MJ’s cause, he talks about revenge being used as a motivator and it’s this motivation that allows him to keep challenging himself to improve and stay on top of his game and be better than his competitors.

The other question is can you bring yourself to think negatively about an opponent?

Of course you can and you can do it no matter level you play at!

You can do it now. Think of an opponent that’s got the better of you in the past, and attach a sense of revenge to that thought.

Now you think about their weaknesses. What can you exploit? What can you take advantage of?

You now start to create a new vision, a new thought which you continue to think about that allows your mind to adjust and when you get the opportunity, you play with that emotion attached to the game.

Improving your performance is much more than improving your physical and technical ability and this exercise gives you an idea of how quickly you can improve your performance just by changing your thoughts.


Mike is a Master Mental Performance Specialist helping athletes all around the world to improve their performance quickly. Subscribe below to be notified of new blogs.

Categories
mindset

How to improve your football performance quickly during Covid-19 lockdown – The answer isn’t what you expect!

As a professional or high level sports person, I want you to consider your current reality in terms of your performance.

Before lockdown, was your performance where you wanted it to be?

Do you look at others thinking you’re better than them but for some reason, things aren’t working out for you?

Are you a football (soccer) player that’s hit a slump and is struggling to hit the target?

Are you a defender but attackers are getting the better of you?

You’re current reality is only a blip and can be overcome quickly.

You don’t need to spend hours in the gym

You don’t need to practice more

All you need is an open mind to learning, and before your dismiss this concept, let me tell you a story or two about how quickly you’re able to improve.

A few years ago I worked with a pro basketball player. He was averaging around 5 points a game.

He was in a slump by his own admission.

Something needed to change.

Did he have to spend hours shooting the ball?

Did he have to work on his technical ability?

Did he have to practice under extreme circumstances?

Nope!

All he had to do was have a shift in perception.

I helped him create that shift in mental perception in about 45 minutes all the while he was sat comfortably in the privacy of his own home, which led to him exploding in his next game for 20 points and hitting an unprecedented 100% from the field!

Click here to read his own thoughts in a newspaper column.

Imagine how a struggling striker, unable to hit a strike rate that’s expected of them, can benefit from these techniques?


Defenders – Here’s a story for you.

I worked with a player in the USA, a semi-professional who was only curious about my new ground-breaking program.

So we worked together over 6 weeks, talking for an hour. Again she was in the comfort of her own home and we talked over Skype (way before the Zoom explosion!)

Her curiosity and ability to have an open mind to learning allowed her to win her first ever MVP!

Imagine as a professional player, how this improvement can help your career?

To improve quickly doesn’t involve strenuous physical workouts

To improve quickly doesn’t involve training more specifically

To improve quickly involves shifting your mindset.

I want to help you shift your mindset and in this period of lockdown, now is the perfect time for professional players to focus on developing their mental strength using two proven strategies.

If you have an interest in player development either as a sports psychologist, player liaison officer, manager or team mate, or owner, then I invite you to tell me what you think needs to improve for players you know, then let’s have a chat.

Apply for your consultation at https://elitesportsminds23.org

Do it now in the comfort of your own home over Zoom, in preperation for when the season starts again and you’ll get a head start over the competition.

Take it easy

Mike

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

Categories
Uncategorized

The difference between winning and losing can be just one thought!

Many years ago as a 16 year old basketball player, my team, Bolton was playing Leicester in the semi-final of the National Cup. The winner would go on to play powerhouse London Royals.

The semi final was a tough affair, with both teams giving their all but it’s the last few seconds that remind me of the difference between winning and losing.

Down by two with just a few seconds remaining, we could either tie the game or go ahead.

The ball was passed to me at the top of the key, near the three point line.

I saw the clock ticking down

This was it!

This was my moment!

As two defenders came towards me I launched a shot!

It missed…badly!

I remember my team mates throwing their arms up in frustration and disbelief!

What had I done!

I’d just lost the game!

This exact moment was the fine line between winning and losing and I ended up on the wrong side!

Over the years, I redeemed myself, hitting a couple of game winners and game tying shots, but I had to learn how to think differently.

One of the things I teach and coach players that come to me, is how to create a calm focused mind in the times when it matters because it’s been proven a calm, focused mind is more likely to make the right choice at the right time, when the pressure is on.

Back when I missed that shot, my mind was racing with so many thoughts, I wasn’t focused on the moment.

I was already thinking ahead when in fact I should have been playing in the moment and if I had been playing in the moment, I would have seen an open team mate.

Whether you’re playing E-sports or live sports at a competitive level, it’s important to learn how to be calm and focused at key moments, because whether you win or lose, can depend largely on the thought you have at that specific moment.

There are many emotions that affect an athlete’s behaviour and decisions including confidence, frustration, anger, jealousy, calmness, fear, disgust, happiness, contempt and it’s important that you know, as an athlete, your actions are led by your emotions.

So how do you train yourself to have a calm mind in key moments?

I’ll share a strategy with you now

Visualisation – Think of the last time you had a chance to win the game. Recall the emotions and feelings and behaviours you demonstrated at that time. Really connect with what you saw, heard and felt.

If the outcome was in your favour, recall that vision in all it’s glory and remind yourself at that time you made the right decision and all the thoughts, feelings and emotions you felt at that time were the right ones. Tell yourself, to repeat this feat, you can recall these emotions again.

If the outcome wasn’t in your favour, ask yourself what emotion would you replace with the one you felt and replay the scenario over in your head and attach that new emotion but with the outcome changing to be in your favour.

Emotional awareness is a powerful trait to have as an athlete and just as you train your body to be a peak performer, you can train your mind to focus at the right time.

With competition levels increasing, it’s important you gain a psychological edge over your opponents, because trust me, there are others out there, wanting to improve quickly.

You will either be left behind or you’ll stay ahead of the field.

You have a choice, you always have a choice on how you approach competition, all you have to do is think what you want…

If this post has intrigued you and you want to know more, please get in touch and let’s connect.

Mike