My Journey

The Journey To Become The Most Sought After Sports Mental Performance Specialist Part 5

“To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”

Stephen R. Covey

The USA connection

Making the call to the USA was new territory for me.

I’d taken some interest in football up to this point. I was a fan, not a hardcore fan but one that could appreciate from a distance, the skills and techniques of the great players like Beckham, Scholes and Jay Jay Okocha.

One of my first jobs back in the 90’s was working for JD Sports in Bolton town centre and every now and again a footballer would come in and buy shoes for their kids. “Super” John McGinlay was a regular.

Jay Jay (so good they named him twice) was a player for Bolton Wanders, a team I followed by default because that was my home town, some of the players visited my shop and when they brought Sam Allardyce in, my expectations grew because I’d read somewhere he was all about improving mental strength and resilience. He had suffered with heart issues due to stress so I knew he had a good reason to do the best he could with Bolton.

He took them to 6th in the Premier league in 2005!

I’d love to work with them now as they only just survived liquidation and now is a great time for them to consider new perspectives on player performance.

Anyway..I digress.

Back to the USA

I needed a player open to trying these new techniques. I knew they worked in basketball and I had a hunch they would work in football.

LinkedIn was the forum I used to find a willing player and after some dead ends, one player returned my message. She was open to trying something new. She was a player, coach and mental skills consultant; perfect for this opportunity.

We spoke on Skpye for about an hour where I firstly thanked her for giving me the opportunity to work with her and explained how the program would work (Speak once a week for about an hour. I’d set her a task and she’d reflect and adjust).

Simple right?

It turned out my hunch was the right hunch and my faith in my abilities came to fruition.

At first, she was sceptical but as the weeks progressed, she saw improved play and won her first ever MVP!

She was keeping a reflective diary, purposely designed to record specific information which allowed to her to see her progression but also worked for me as proof what I was doing actually had some value and benefit.

She was that impressed she worked with 2 ten year olds. One was weaker than the other so she taught the weaker player the techniques and after some time she adapted and was was blocking more shots from the stronger player! These players must be in their mid to late teens now and I’d love to know how they are getting on. They were part of the Rhode Island Rough Riders program in New York.

Through changing her perspective, she was able to improve her performance!

In my head I was becoming excited and creating scenarios. If a sceptical player in the USA can benefit from these techniques, then a player in the English leagues could benefit!

Struggling football (soccer) players could learn these techniques and improve their performance. An improved performance means more respect and kudos which can lead to greater self-confidence, higher value and earning potential and in the crazy world of professional football, players need any edge they can get to survive the reality of the higher leagues.

What now?

OK…I had the research, the academic paper, the proof and a successful pilot study. I’d invested, time and money into creating and building something unique and powerful. Surely a football player or club can see the value in that?

Is this the time I’d become the most sought after Mental Performance Specialist?

I was being drawn back to basketball as I saw an opportunity and went for it!

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!


Why do premier league and championship footballers struggle

Your physical and technical abilities were honed over the years.

Hours of blood, sweat and tears built on a foundation of passion for the game, allowed you to reach a level you dreamed of. You were living the dream, you had made it! But then…

Something changed.

There was one moment that changed how you felt and perceived the game you loved.

Perhaps it was a comment from a manager or coach?

Perhaps you were put out on loan?

Perhaps your form dipped and you were quickly replaced?

Or something else?

Life as a professional athlete has it’s ups and downs and if you are in a place you don’t like, then it’s time to make a decision and make a conscious effort to move out of it.

Just like you spent hours developing your physical and technical skills, how many hours have you worked on developing your mind?

How long did you spend understanding why you think the way you do, act the way you act and react to situations in ways you don’t like, but tolerate the outcomes?

Have you ever wondered why other less abled and skilled players are doing better than you?

Have you ever wondered why others get the breaks you can only dream of?

Let me give you the answer – Your mindset.

Your mind dictates how you react to situations, how you behave in situations and what you say in situations. You can choose to behave and speak differently for improved results, if things aren’t working out for you right now.

OK, there is some luck involved and some of ‘it’s who you know’

So how great would it be if you could turn things around by learning how to react, behave and speak in ways that lead to opportunity?

In these strange times where games and training are cancelled due to Covid-19 (the little buggery virus) now is the perfect time to spend time training your mind so when the season starts again, you are fully prepared and have an edge over competitors because you know you are only a poor game away from losing what you have.

Your mind is so much more powerful now than you can understand and now is the perfect time to tune into that mindset and begin to learn how to get the best out of you.

I have two questions for you.

  1. Do you have an open mind to learning?
  2. If you want things to improve quickly, can you understand the answer exists but you may not be able to accept it?

If the answer is yes to both questions I have good news for you.

Check out my youtube video for hints and tips…I’ve released one about your inner voice which will give you a deeper insight which can be found here…

You can also hire me to help you improve quickly and I’m currently accepting applications from premier league and Championship players

All you need to do is click the link below and the journey begins…

Click here to start your journey