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esports mindset

Relationships in sport. Are you getting it right?

I’m going to suggest a relationship is the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.

One of the relationships you must pay attention to is the one between you and your coach and I’d like you consider the following three questions and give yourself truthful answers. Noone will see these and you don’t have to show your coach but you can take your answers and choose to do something positive with them.

  1. Which of the following ways of communicating does your coach interact with you – criticise, praise or ignore you
  2. Do you believe the coach wants you to be the best you can be?  Either way, what makes you come to that conclusion?
  3. Are you honest with the coach with your feelings about your own performance? If no, ask yourself why you aren’t honest with your coach about your feelings.

To be successful there must be mutual trust and respect between player and coach and this relationship thrives when communication is honest, supportive and open with each having the mindset of “What can I do to help others be the best they can be” for when each player and coach has this mindset, their focus becomes more about the team and others rather than a selfish approach that can leave a person blinkered as to what’s possible.

Now let’s consider the relationship between team mates and others.  In my younger days I had many teammates and I was very judgemental about their performances on the court.  I had something to prove to myself and wanted to be the best I could be but also wanted my team to win so I would challenge my team-mates to step up and improve, if only with increasing their hustle levels.  I believe any player, no matter your ability, skill set or technical ability can bring hustle and it’s hustle that brings a small increment of improvement over the course of a game.

If you’re lazy, I will call you out!

When you think of a team, you think of roles, and when you think of roles, you think of the people filling those roles and when you think of the people filling those roles, you can begin to understand what needs to be done to improve or what’s working really well.

The relationship between players again must be one of mutual trust and respect for a team to thrive.  You don’t need to be best friends away from the field of play but as soon as you cross that line into competition you shift your mindset and place your trust and respect into your teammates and if you’re unable to do that, then that’s a sign that something needs to change.

Of course you’ll form stronger bonds with some which can sometimes cause a fracture between the team, usually the better players will create their own click so it’s important you recognise the fracture and tell yourself no matter a players ability you must place your trust and respect into them for the sake of the team.  Another benefit of placing your trust and respect into lesser players is they will feel your positivity towards them and that can inspire them to play better.

As a recap over these last few episodes, we have explored the 7 pillars of growth that each of us need to spend time understanding when it comes to improving performance and wellbeing.

Moving forward I’ll be sharing insights and tips from my experiences with the aim to help you be the best you can be.

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esports mindset overcoming challenges

How to manage expectations

I’d like you to consider the following tasks:

Run a marathon tomorrow

Hold your breath for 4 minutes

Do 200 pushups in 5 minutes

What thoughts and emotions did you just experience?

Sometimes in life and sports, others expect a lot more of you than you are capable of and when these unrealistic expectations are presented to you, one of three things will happen.

You will make an excuse not to attempt to try

You will half-heartedly give it a go

You will do it to the best of your ability

It’s usually those closest to you that set these unrealistic expectations and each person will have a reason to set us these tasks.  It could come from family, parents, your manager or coach because they want the best for you.  They want you to succeed and somewhere down the line they have heard a person can improve by being pushed to be better and as much as I agree to that sentiment to some degree, if the person isn’t ready to be pushed, those expectations from others won’t be accomplished.

When this happens, there is some trust lost between the two and fractured relationships can occur, therefore hindering any further growth.

So what can you do?

Putting those unrealistic expectations to one side, what do YOU expect of yourself? (Be selfish)

How far out of alignment are your expectations compared to those unrealistic ones, others are setting you?

There is something very powerful about setting your own expectations with the right guidance and I want to be clear on what that guidance is because if you’re a person who really wants to improve, you have to get it right.

If you took away your fear of letting others down and living up to others expectations, what expectations would you set yourself?

Write down three things you improve but make it realistic. As an esports pro you might want to get more sleep, eat healthier or improve your mindset.

Secondly, select just one of those things and tell yourself you’re going to improve in this category in so many weeks, by doing x more consistently.

Now all you do is begin to take action and this is where setting your own expectations becomes powerful.

Now you have a choice.

You will either do it, or you won’t.

If you don’t reach your expectations, you overstretched your capabilities so you must reflect and make adjustments.

If you do reach your expectations, enjoy that feeling when you achieve because that is true growth!

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esports mindset

Your Reality

We live in the moment, we exist in the moment, yet it’s easy to get distracted by the past or think too far into the future and I want to start with talking about the importance of recognising where you are because when you accept your reality, you can begin to set realistic and achievable goals.

I want to talk about goal setting because in sports, goal setting is important to help us gauge our growth and development and this gives us a sense of purpose and accomplishment.  How great does it feel when you accomplish a goal?  I’m right handed and remember practicing to make a left hand layup, a shot in basketball.  I was in the school gym with my mate in the lunch hour and it started off with a simple question, shall we practice left hand layups.  So we started.  Of course we sucked at them!  Hitting the bottom of the ring, missing the ring completely, but all the time we were adjusting and repeating until we eventually got one in!  And although we managed to make one and accomplished our goal, we instinctively wanted more.  Making one wasn’t good enough so now could we make three in a row.

We tried, we made one, maybe two before finally making three and again, goal accomplished.  But we wanted more.

The goal now was to be consistent.

After being consistent could we make them under pressure

Then could we make them in games?

Our reality was very much in the moment, and we didn’t assume we could go straight into a game and make left hand layups, we had to learn the basics and fundamentals before moving on and the recognition of our reality kept us grounded.

How often do you compare yourself to others?  How does that make you feel?

It’s easy to begin to compare yourself with others who are either more successful than you or not as good as you then begin to judge yourself based on your judgements of others which isn’t fair on you because their journey to where they are was very different to yours.

This unfair comparison can raise anxiety through thinking you’re not good enough, or bring a sense of complacency thinking you are so much better, but when you focus on your journey, your needs, your goals, improving becomes something you can control and feel at ease with.

Be proud of where you are, be accepting of your current level of ability and if you really want to improve set yourself realistic targets based on your needs.

Thanks for listening and remember to Take action, Reflect, Adjust and repeat 

Play with purpose

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esports Inner Voice mindset motivation

Creating your ideal vision

YOUR IDEAL VISION 

Looking to the future gives us something to focus on and work towards.

Imagine a ship with no destination, the crew and captain may be completing tasks and surviving but to what end, for what purpose are they simply sailing around with no destination?

Do you remember learning to fasten your shoe laces?  Probably not, as it’s a skill learned when you were around the ages of 6 or 7 and now you complete that skill without thinking twice, but there was a time when you found the motivation to learn that skill.

But for what purpose? 

Although you can understand the point of learning to fasten your shoe laces, ask yourself this question – For what purpose do I want to improve?

Your answer may surprise you or a least spark some interesting internal dialogue around why you do what you do.

We all have our motivation for wanting to improve and when you really connect with your purpose, you will jump into improving with an almighty splash and begin to feel and see results quickly, but if you’re unsure as to why you want to improve, improving won’t come easily to you.

In The recent docuseries the Last Dance about the Chicago Bulls, NBA team of the 90’s, Michael Jordan, arguably the best player that ever lived, told a story about how a young player had got the better of him in a game, scoring 37 points.  It was said that after the game the player, LeBradford Smith uttered something to Jordan like “good game’, Jordan took this small comment as fuel to motivate him for the next game and said he would score his opponents full game total of 37 by half time next time they met.  Jordan went to score 36 and proved a point.

But here’s where his motivation goes to another level.  The comment Smith made, was never made!  Jordan allegedly made up the story, meaning it wasn’t the verbal comment made by Smith that lit his fire, which in itself would be a good mindset, but it was simply his inner voice, creating a scenario that fuelled the fire.

Can you imagine!  The desire to win and improve so badly was simply created by imagining another player said something disrespectful to him!  Now that’s on another level but it is possible to create motivation from anything and it doesn’t have to come from an external source.

In this instance, Jordan’s vision was to beat the same team that beat them the night before and get revenge on a young player.

He simply needed to tell himself the right words.

When creating your ideal vision, think short term, as in next few days, medium term, next few weeks and long terms, next few months/years and keep it realistic.

You can’t tell yourself you’ll be the best in the world if your diet is poor, you are constantly tired and you aren’t even close to being great.

But it’s important to get into good habits so you can achieve your short term, medium term and long term vision.

It’s habits that will help drive you forward.

So now, with that new perspective, ask yourself, for what purpose do I want to improve?

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esports mindset

Your Values. Are You Aligned?

Your values  form the foundation on which you perform work and conduct yourselves. … The core values are the basic elements of how you go about your work

 but when it comes to sports, you should remind yourself some of your values might be compromised and that’s when problems can occur.  They may present a list of values but are these real values or hollow values?

For example if one of your values is respect, for yourself and others, yet your manager fails to treat you with respect, there will be an internal conflict for you to work out and raises questions like, shall I stay or should I go, Shall I mention it to my manager, shall I keep quiet because If I say something I will be thrown off the team….

Let’s consider a few values that should be included in all sports delivery

Accountability

Consistency

Determined

Disciplined

Growth

Professionalism

Self-worth

Team work

Courage

Understanding

You will interpret each of these values in your own way based on your past experiences and so will everyone else.  It’s unfair to assume your interpretation of professionalism is the same as one of your team mates.  Its unfair to assume your interpretation of growth is the same as your manager’s, which brings us to the importance of communication.

Without conversations and dialogue and specific questions, teams and individuals can quickly lose focus so let’s look at three important questions any player should be encouraged to ask to help them understand the values of themselves and the team:-

1) What can I do differently to help the team?

2) What is the one strength I have that you can count on that helps the team?

3) What works when we are winning?
Consider what your three core values are and ask yourself if you’re aligned with them or does something need to change?

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esports mindset overcoming challenges

Improve your communication with cake recipes

Esports and cake?

There is a link between cakes and esports and not the obvious one you might be thinking. We are talking about recipes and when it comes to improving performance, it’s all about the recipes, so let’s look at what you need to do.

Follow a recipe of course!

You’ve got your ingredients for a cake but now what do you do with them? How do you transform these individual items into something really tasty?

Unless you’re trained and have done it before, the likely hood is you’ll follow a recipe and a method that involves weighing, measuring, mixing and heating and if things go to plan, your cake will be completed, ready to eat (and share if you really want to) in the shape of an X-box or PS or something that you can enjoy

Recipe for your mind

Imagine for a moment the cake represents your ideal outcome. Whether that’s finding confidence, or improving performance or overcoming an issue that’s been bugging you for a while, you want a different outcome than the one you’re currently getting

Just like the recipe for the cake there is a recipe for the mind and the ingredients include how you see, hear and feel and when you learn how to mix them in the right way, your ideal outcome will be achieved quickly

The hard part is convincing yourself, you are ready to try mixing the ingredients up differently and this is hard because to do that, you must first understand how and why you think. Have you got the time and open mind to learn new perspectives?

Changing your recipe

Over your life you’ve created beliefs, values and habits, rightly or wrongly but somewhere down the line, you decided you want to change things; you want things to be better for you. Perhaps you feel tired all the time, perhaps you have had enough of losing or perhaps you want to try something new? whatever different outcome you want, you have to think and act differently.

The thought of changing can be enough to put some people off from trying, but it’s important to know changing takes courage and determination and will lead to different outcomes, and by coming out of your comfort zone for just a few moments, you will begin to feel a change. Then you ride that momentum and embrace what’s happening

New outcomes achieved!

Just like baking that cake of yours, getting the right outcome takes time to perfect. When I was younger, every Christmas I would bake a chocolate log, a Swiss role covered in chocolate. I’d make about five of them for my relatives and I was that skilled, I could do it without a recipe because I got into the zone and just did it. But to get to that level took time. Yes I made mistakes but quickly ate up the evidence before my mum saw

You deserve to find new outcomes if the ones you’re achieving now, aren’t providing you with what you need or desire, so embrace change, embrace your ability to do things differently and start to bake a new cake!

One FIFA pro I was working with talked about letting his team down, being distracted and wanting to finish the game quickly and score quickly which led to hasty decisions.  We talked about his thoughts and broke them down then reframed his thinking to create a new emotion which led to improved outcomes of winning game 1 – 0 or 2 – 0 and getting more wins.  He’s recently beaten two brilliant players, DullenMike the youngest winner of a FUT Champions Cup in the history of EA SPORTS FIFA and The Gorilla, arguably the GOAT of FIFA.

The point is this – When you have a need or desire to improve, you can change your thinking to fast track your way to improvements by changing your recipe, just like you can change a recipe from a chocolate chip cake to a strawberry cake, you make a couple of adjustments and off you go.  You might not get it right first time but you have taken the first steps to improving

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esports Inner Voice Tips

Why is that giraffe in the picture?

Knowing your creativity

Photo by David Cassolato on Pexels.com

Improving performance and wellbeing has to be led by you. You have to take the right action and be accountable for your actions as you reflect and adjust and in this blog, I want to share the most powerful aspect of improving performance and wellbeing – your thoughts because it’s your thoughts that drive you to take action/your performance/behaviour

Be aware of your surroundings

Photo by EVG Culture on Pexels.com

Let me take you through a quick fun exercise that helps you understand your thoughts

Take a few seconds to take action on each suggestion:

Look around – what do you see

Listen to the sounds around you what do you hear

Notice your body position and notice the what you’re leaning on, standing on or sitting on

Place your attention to what you can taste

Move your attention to what you can smell

Our five senses help us interpret the world around us but it’s important to understand we can’t process all five at once…Try it.

We are bombarded by about 11 bits of information per second yet we can only process about 50 bits. Think about that for a moment.  That’s a lot of information we are missing or choosing to ignore.

Why do we ignore bits of information?  Because our minds don’t think they have any purpose at that specific moment in time and it’s the exact reason why you haven’t paid attention to your big toe until now.  Spending time thinking about it serves no purpose.

You’ve been successful at connecting with your external methods of communication using your 5 senses so let’s consider your internal communication system

Your internal communication

Again, take a few seconds to take action on each suggestion

Close your eyes and think about your favourite place, a holiday, a sporting event or with friends or family. It’s entirely up to you

What images do you see?

Staying with your favourite place, what sounds can you hear?

Staying in that place, What do you feel?  Warmth, cold, Comfort?

Is there a taste that connects you to that place

Is there a smell that connects you to that place?

Your external and communication systems will form the foundation for your future learning and will help you understand why you think what you think and why you do what you do, which when it comes to improving performance and wellbeing are very relevant

Now imagine a giraffe in your favourite place! Simply pop it in there.

Did you notice the change in your facial expressions, your emotions and your ability to create thoughts?

Change your thought – change your outcome

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Now you understand your thoughts on a deeper level and how you can change your thoughts, knowing how to improve your performance and wellbeing should become clearer. All you do is change your thoughts. It takes time to learn and just like training physical muscles, it takes time to adjust but with practice, you will find ways to improve quickly

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esports mindset Tips

What to do after a mistake

Mistakes happen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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esports Inner Voice

It’s Christmas

Enjoy

Today is Christmas day and although it’s strange times, know you can appreciate the people around you and the fact you’re alive and gaming has provided you with some ups and down, successes and losses and connected you with people around the world and that in itself is pretty amazing!

What will 2021 bring? Only you know that and allow me to leave you with one little nugget of brilliance

Your thoughts drive you to wherever you focus them as long as those thoughts are realistic.

Your thoughts drive you to behave certain ways but there is a time and place to be conscious of this recipe and today you can give yourself permission to enjoy your family, the food, the company and connect with the people around you

Merry Christmas!

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esports mindset

Death and Performance

Death

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

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

Was there anything he could have done differently?

The Pirate Recipe

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

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

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

I call this recipe the pirate recipe ARAR!

Reflection

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

Losing is always a possibility

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

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

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

Play because you enjoy it

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

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