Tag Archive: athlete
The Mental Game
Since 1983 my practice has been called Sport Psychology Consultants. Not very creative, but back then it seemed to fit what I wanted to do.
In 2009 when I transitioned into the current century and built a website, my practice became, Sport Psychology Consultants @The Mental Game.com
For the last few weeks I have been posting about how mental training needs to be thought of as a necessity and not a luxury. I even wrote about how those of us who are applied sport psychology consultants are in fact part of the problem. I started talking about using mental trainer instead of sport psychology consultant.
Last week traveling with a friend we were discussing business and I had an epiphany. We were discussing my blog posts and it occurred to me that I was being hypocritical (well maybe not hypocritical, but perhaps stubborn). I was referring to an applied sport psychology consultant as a mental trainer, then how can I keep referring to my practice as Sport Psychology Consultants. Why not do business as The Mental Game?
So here I am making the paradigm shift. Back in the late 70′s I was considered a Sport Psychologist and my practice was Inner Sports. 1983 rolls around and it changes. I was a Sport Psychology Consultant doing business as Sport Psychology Consultants. Brilliant! Ha. So beginning this March I am a Mental Trainer and the practice is called The Mental Game. Website is being changed. Logo being worked on. Will it make a difference? Will this help bring about a change in the way people think about sport psychology? I hope so. I so desperately want athletes and coaches to understand that we who have studied sport psychology and utilize this science, applying it to educate athletes, coaches and others to discover something within themselves to achieve more want to be part of mainstream sports. We are no different than the other sport sciences which make up this marvelous thing we call sports. It has always been my contention that if you want the world to change, it has to start with you.
So here I am. Mike Margolies, an applied sport psychology something or other for 35 years changing the way he does business. Welcome to the Future!
Thoughts on what mental lessons did we learn from Super Bowl 47
I would be remiss if I if I didn’t follow last weeks post with some thoughts and observations from Super Bowl 47.
With all the hype one team came out ready to play. You are a team or individual athlete and you have two weeks to prepare for the biggest game of your career and you come out flat. Was it the distractions of the week or just that the other team was better prepared mentally. On paper both teams have great defenses and good offenses. Half time score was 21-6 at half. 11 second into the 2nd half the score was 28-6.
And then the lights went out. We can insert 49ers, gambling, CBS, etc. jokes here about who pulled the plug.
Needless to say a weird thing happened on the way to a beat down by the older brother to his younger sibling. The lights went out in Georgia (er the Super Dome) causing a 35 minute delay. The Ravens had all of the momentum. They were in cruse control. And then the darkness. All of a sudden things changed. The commentary started in about how this may have saved San Francisco. Now they have time to regroup. No team has comeback from more than a 10 point deficit, but now maybe this is a sign. Certainly the coaching staff for the 49ers are telling their players that they can use this to their advantage. This will be the shift in momentum they need. After all its 3rd down and 13 for a first down, but the Ravens won’t be able to stop them now. On the other side, while the Ravens are thinking they still have this game in the bag time is not on their side. They are an older team and it takes time to physically get going after an hour of sitting around. Half time is over twice as long and a normal game. So they cooled down, got ready again and cooled again. Tough for any athlete. They too likely started to wonder if this meant things were not to be.
The brothers who are always interesting to watch were an interesting study. If you asked me who would be the most irrational about something during the game I would have said it would be 49er head coach Jim. He is not known in the media as Mr Congeniality. He made up for it later, but I’ll save that. Brother John can have his moments, but is perceived differently. During the Darkness, as I will refer to it, the camera caught John going off on the referees and NFL official over something. He looked as if he were losing it. He had been told they could not use headsets because the 49ers side were down. The Ravens send in plays from the coaches box so that would put them at a disadvantage. They were going to take an extra 15 minutes to allow the coaches to come down. I think it was also the delay and could he get his team back where he needed them mentally and physically after the lay off.
San Francisco takes control
Just like the movie script that includes a conspiracy theory on who pulled the plug, San Francisco came out of the Darkness on Que and came back and took the lead. The Ravens responded showing that they had not died and pulled ahead. In the end it came down to a goal line stance with SF having the ball in the Red Zone. They needed a touchdown as time was running out. Baltimore dug in and held them figuratively and perhaps actually. A non call on a hold / passing interference on 4th and the trophy, sent Jim into a rage. Not sure he’s stopped complaining yet. The Ravens get the ball on downs. Three runs later and there is still time on the clock. Ravens have to punt or perhaps opt for a safety to take time off the clock and give them room to prevent a blocked kick. Most everyone knew it was what they would do. The interesting thing was that the offense became like the defense. The held and tacked the defense players allowing the punter to take more time off before taking the safety. Holding /tackling the other team was penalty. The refs made no call. Now in truth the it made no difference. It was an anomaly. I remember having the same thing happen to me coaching youth football 36 years ago. I’ve seen some people say it is not within the spirit of the game. That may be but it is within the rules. Call or don’t call the penalty. Either way it was the endgame.
Ray Lewis is retiring. He won’t be gone as I am sure he will be on TV forever. I’m not a big RL fan. He paid (sort of for his crime) but still makes questionable life choices. He’s made some good ones as well and I have friends in the Baltimore area that talk about how much he does for the community. I think that is great. Community starts at home as well and he needs I think take care of his kids and ex girlfriends too. But Ray and Ed (a real good dude) are gone. I’m happy for Baltimore and their fans. There are some good stories, inspiring stories as well. Former All Pro O.J. Brigance being around fighting ALS.
Mental aspects of the Darkness
Mental toughness is about being resilient, about persevering and about persistence.
The biggest things to look at I think are these. Be prepared for competition, mentally, emotionally and physically. (Ravens)
Be prepared for coping when things go terribly wrong like the Darkness (49ers)
Fight back when you lose momentum. (Ravens)
Don’t lose it emotionally (both coaches)
And finally be mentally strong enough to be gracious in both victory and defeat.
Seven Day Challenge: Remembering the Coin
About a week ago I posted an exercise Remember the Coin Part 1.
Remembering the Coin. It was really a seven-day challenge. I gave the instructions, but no explanation of what the exercise was about. I set it up to entice athletes to want to do the exercise without an explanation of what the lesson was about. I left that part out for a couple of reason.
1) If you know what it is about you are likely to say that is not an issue for me and decide not to give it a go.
2) Another reason is I wanted to show how perhaps language might impact those that gave it a try.
3) And the third reason is that as with many good mental training exercises, I did not want to influence people into thinking that it was one simple construct, but perhaps it had multiple meanings.
So here is part of the reason for the exercise. If you found other significance’s, I would love for you to post them here. At the end of the explanation I’ve added another challenge for those of you that found this too easy. That would be the 10% that passed, not the other 10% that lied or the 80% that failed.
The Game within the Game slideshow
I thought I would post one of my PowerPoint presentations on the game within the game. It is how I often introduce sport psychology and mental training to parent groups. It is performance oriented and takes a more research or academic based approach to mental training. Come view the slide show and see many of the topics covered in mental training and how it can be a benefit to athlete who decide to travel this road. Mental training is an important aspect of the athletic experience.
Keep in mind that I have been working as a sport psychology consultant for three decades now. I’ve seen a lot of changes, but not enough. In Europe and even in Canada I know sports psychology consultants that never even hear these questions. So why here? If you get my book you will note that I trained under someone many consider the modern father of sports psychology n North America, Bruce Olgilvie. He started working with athletes in 1966. And we still ask the question 46 years later. The Russians brought Sports Psychologists with them in the 1950′s. Why is it in North America, particularly in the US, we have made such slow progress. This is in answer to feedback I got from my post “Is Mental Training Right for You”
Many athletes have a fear that other athletes or teammates will see them as weak if they work with a sports psychologist. Are you or any of your athletes hesitant about mental training? I talked with a football player at a DI University that has a sport psychologist and he said very few would utilize their services and it was free. Myths about sports psychology can prevent athletes from developing a strong mental game.
I was talking with a potential client’s mother today. She wanted to see if I was the right fit for helping her kid. We discussed all of my services, but it came down to some basic questions. One was that the concern he would think there was something wrong with because of the term “Psychology” and the other was how does sport psychology and mental training fit their needs. The second part was easy, and it has been the nature and intent of the posts I have been making. The first question gets more to the roots that 99% of Sports Psychology and Mental training is for healthy athletes that want to increase or accelerate their performance. Yes, we deal with things like fear, self confidence and anxiety, but it is with the intent to increase performance.
So as you read through the rest of this post, I would like you to answer two questions for yourself and me. Please feel free to leave comments so we can have a conversation.
1) Is mental training right for you and/ or your team?
2) What makes someone wake up and say to themselves “I think I’ll look for a sports psychologist / mental trainer today? (I ask this in part because in talking with sport psychologists in Canada and the UK, mental training is far more accepted than it is in the US and I have been working with athletes for three decades and am still answering these questions today. So maybe it is that I am missing something and would love to hear from you.)
The Big Why
Baseball great Yogi Berra is quoted as saying, “90% of all sport is mental and the other 50% physical. Why do we spend almost 100% of our time training only our bodies? This is the big question you need to ask yourself as an athlete. What are you doing to train your mind for athletic success? Are you dealing with competitive stress productively? Sport Psychology and Mental Game Training will help you reach the next level of peak performance. You need to explore and see if there are areas of your mental training that would benefit by learning the game within the game. Most programs are relatively short, but the results will last a lifetime.