“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.
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).
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.
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!