Seahawk Super Bowl Victory and the Mental Game

Seahawk Super Bowl Victory and the Mental Game

Seahawk Super Bowl Victory and the Mental Game

These are the conversations I had with people on Facebook and Twitter. It made the game even more fun. Thought some would like to listen in regarding the Seahawk Super Bowl Victory and the Mental Game

Super-Bowl-2014-Prop-Wagers-012714L

  • It’s Super Bowl Sunday. Less than 5 hrs until kickoff. Seattle Seahawks vs Denver Broncos. My two favorite teams. I worked with the Broncos on their first visit to the Super Bowl. I have a lot of roots in Denver. This is the first time I’ve wanted a different team to win. So I ask the question. Will it come down to Xs & Os? Might I suggest that it is really about The Mental Game. Which team will be calm under pressure? Which team has the mental toughness to excel? Will Manning shake Sherman’s confidence? Will he even pass in that direction? These are the difference makers. You know, no matter what level of play, it’s always the mental game.
  • I did say it was all about the mental game.
  • I’m just about that Rainbow, boss.  http://t.co/YHFP5Ij4PB” This is a Skittle thing. But it is one of the things that will be iconic about the game. 
  • Congrats Seahawks and 12s. Great game tonight. Totally dominated. It really did show how when a team is mentally prepared the difference it makes. Seahawks preach the mental game. It’s part of their weekly focus Should be everyone’s. Go Hawks!
  • (From my FB Friend Steven) Mike, mental preparation before the game is so important, but what struck me tonight as I saw pictures ot the Denver players on the sideline in the 3rd & 4th quarters, was mental collapse. The point were a player decides his team is going to lose, & simply ceases to try to win. How does one prepare a team to fight to the finish?
  • (from my friend Karin) It was clear early on their faces, they were done.
  • (My comment back to Steven) I saw that as well. I think it has to do with conviction. A belief that it really isn’t over until it’s over. One of the key components of mental toughness is perseverance. Can you keep trying when the wheels fall off. Keep in mind that Manning set a completion record as did Thomas with receptions. But not everyone could when I look at Hawks I see team. Broncos have great individuals.
  • (Steven’s reply) Yes CONVICTION, but also individual PERSEVERANCE plus COMMITMENT to the team, which is why I so much like their mantra, “WHY NOT US?”
  • Seahawk Super Bowl Victory and the Mental Game(my reply)  Agree. It’s what I work with on all of my clients and teams. Same with business clients. Not everyone gets cooperative competition. But as we both know with conviction, commitment and perseverance most things are possible. Not to be left off is trust. Trusting coaches, teammates and staff. Doesn’t matter if it’s playing football, business, medicine or driving a car.
  • It has been interesting reading the media reports today on the game. Most, not all of the dislike of the Seahawks is over. Blame of course being thrown at Peyton Manning, which is OK as he can handle it. Better to be thrown at him. If it was thrown to a receiver it would either be dropped or they would fall down after the catch. The line of course couldn’t stop it. Peyton is the real deal. It was a game. A loss and butt kicking, but in the end just a game. His character never in doubt.  Everyone should read Richard Sherman‘s account on how Manning sought him out to see how his injury was. Credit Manning and Sherman for recognizing that even as it is the game, their is still more to life. My son saw a report in NYC that the Seahawks bought the game. Now that’s one I would have never thought of. Preparation for next season according to Carroll has already begun. Victory definitely goes to those who are mentally prepared. Parade is on Wednesday. Take off a day or two and let’s start getting ready for next season. The one thing I can’t get enough of is Mental Preparation – BOSS. Go Hawks!
  • Until I moved to the Seattle area 15 years ago I was a big Bronco fan. I got my start in Sport Psychology in Denver. The first team I did any work for was the Broncos. But after a few years watching Mike Holmgren turn things around here, I started following both teams. When Pete Carroll arrived and I started watching him carefully, I read his book “Win Forever” and I went all in. The biggest post game story I heard was from Richard Sherman.  Sherman wanted to acknowledge his respect for Manning. Manning came up to him to make sure he wasn’t hurt badly. After a crushing defeat when you can care about your antagonist, you are really something. This story came from Sherman himself. For those who think that this articulate young man via Compton and Stanford is a thug, think again. Years ago Manning walked off the field without shaking hands. He learned a lesson. So did Sherman. They will never approach things the same, but both are of high character. Manning has taught a lesson he perhaps never intended.
  • To everyone who cares to listen. This is what many of my posts during the Super Bowl were about. How the Mental Game effects outcomes. As you will see Richard Sherman talks about this being a chess match and not checkers. Checkers are who is faster, who is more physical. Chess is can you out think your opponent, can you play the entire board as one not as individuals. Are you prepared to the extent that you can play with confidence, calmness and conviction the entire game. http://dailym.ai/1jc023k The more we read, the more we learn about how these two teams prepared mentally for the game.
  • OK< I’m done with the Super Bowl talk. It’s been fun. A lot of interaction with people.  Obviously, my addenda is to promote mental training. I really do feel that instead of the focusing on how physical or how fast the Seahawks were in the game, the focus is on how mentally prepared they were vs the Broncos. Add to this that Seattle has been working on Mental Training for at least the last two years weekly, is important.  This team was built on the ideas of cooperation and competition. It shows the importance of emotional intelligence. It is the mental game. OK> I’m out.
Mental Training Are you

Mental Training Are you

Mental training Are you?Are you mental training

Are you mental training? My biggest wish is that we all understand the importance of mental training in everything we do. Yogi Berra regardless of what he meant or how badly he is misquoted was certainly right. Ninety percent of sport is mental and the other fifty percent is physical.

The more important aspect of this Berra-ism is not simply our understanding that the mental side of performance is important, but that just like everything else we do in life to get better at something we must practice those skills. If we want to be a better writer, then we better write. Want to be a better musician, then you better practice if you want to get to Carnegie Hall.

It’s that practical. If you are going to achieve anything, use your mind. There are plenty of techniques you can learn to help you succeed, but just as most athletes spend ninety percent of their efforts purely on physical training (and most do), we need to change our perspective. The trouble is that many successful athletes did learn to train using their minds at an early age. They put little thought into the mental game because it is a natural part of sports for them. They can achieve excellence with the ease of angels. Maybe it was an early coach or teacher. Maybe it was their parents and family or friends, but they picked up things along the way, that made succeeding easier. So when you hear an athlete or coach scoff at mental training and they point to their own success through dedicated practicing, understand that perhaps, they were fortunate to grow up in an environment where this happened for them without conscious effort.

I worked with many of these great athletes over the last thirty years. Some of them I met because they were looking for an edge. Some were wondering how to solve a specific issue that cropped up later in their career. These athletes said that they never put a single thought into the mental side of things until recently. Working with them they would often say that they did what I was suggesting (using different language or their terms of course). We would eventually narrow our focus to the area they wanted to improve and it would usually be just a small correction in something they were already doing. Easy fix when you knew where to look.

So here is a tool to see how you are doing. You can play better soccer. You can move to the next level. I know this to be true. But are you willing to do the work?

Mental Training Assessment for Athletes

Answer for the past 7 days

Scale

Rate

 
 

Do you JOURNAL your sport-related thoughts?

1=not yet; 2=sometimes; 3=often; 4=daily

 

 

Are you using a MONITORING CHART to track your process goals?

1=not yet; 2=sometimes; 3=often; 4=daily

 

 

Do you record your performance STATS after competition?

1=not yet; 2=sometimes; 3=often; 4=always

 

 

Do you have your REASONS WHY you compete written down and stored where you can see them regularly?

1=not yet; 2=written only; 3=written & posted; 4=written, posted and review often

 

 

Do you have your OUTCOME GOALS written down and stored where you can see them regularly? (Dream Goals)

1=not yet; 2=written only; 3=written & posted; 4=written, posted and review often

 

 

Do you have your ROADBLOCKS written down and stored where you can see them regularly? (things that could cause you to fail)

1=not yet; 2=written only; 3=written & posted; 4=written, posted and review often

 

 

Do you have your SUCCESSES written down and stored where you can see them regularly?

1=not yet; 2=written only; 3=written & posted; 4=written, posted and review often

 

 

Do you have your “pre and post” ROUTINES written down and stored where you can see them regularly?

1=not yet; 2=written only; 3=written & stored; 4=written, stored and review often

 

 

Do you know how to control emotions like anger and nervousness?

1=not yet; 2=understand it; 3=practicing it; 4=using it in competition

 

 

Is your competition SCHEDULE written down?

1=not yet; 2=for next 30 days only; 3=for next 90 days; 4=for next 180 days or more

 

 

Do you practice RELAXATION?

1=not yet; 2=sometimes; 3=often; 4=daily

 

 

Do you practice MEDITATION (exercises to quiet your mind)?

1=not yet; 2=sometimes; 3=often; 4=daily

 

 

Do you practice VISUALIZATION? (rehearsing ideal performance)

1=not yet; 2=sometimes; 3=often; 4=daily

 

 

Have you set recurring PHONE ALARMS to remind yourself to practice your mental skills and complete your monitoring chart?

1=not yet; 2=alarms set 1-2 times a week; 3=alarms set 3 times a week; 4=alarms set 4 or more times a week

 

 

Do you know the key MENTAL SKILLS that help you get: calm, confident, carefree, focused and motivated?

1=not yet; 2=some; 3=most; 4=all

 

 

Have you read a book about mental training?

1=not yet; 2=a long time ago; 3=recently; 4=currently reading one

 

 

 

TOTAL

 

 

So what does your score mean? (courtesy of Mental Training Inc.)

16-32: There is a lot you could do to improve your mental toughness. Working with a Mental Trainer® is recommended.

 

33-49: You’re doing ok in some areas but there’s room for improvement. Get info about MentalApp® so you can do mental training on your smartphone.

 

50-64: You appear to be doing a great job with your mental training. Keep up the strong work!

 

These are, as I said, just some of the areas you can focus on with mental training. There are lots of tools as well. If you really want to take your game to the next level, then start working today on your game. That is the mental game; The Game within the Game.

Is your Life Ambition to be GM of the Year?

Is your Life Ambition to be GM of the Year?

Is your Life Ambition to be GM of the Year?

What Team Building in Sport offers the Business World! Is your life ambition to be GM of the Year?

Great Sports Teams have always had great General Managers. Is your life ambition to be GM of the year? Then see what team building in sports will do for you. If you head a project, a business unit or the entire company, you want that title of GM of the Year, because it means your efforts are creating meaningful relationships, products and reputations.

I don’t often post about The Mental Game Programs, but I thought this one would be of value. I think many of the components of this program are critical to businesses and there are things that offer transference to the business world.

Team Building for Businesses, Non Profits and Direct Sales Organizations. Let me show you why the sports world offers you great insight into how your organization can function at the highest level even under pressure. Great teams and GM’s create an atmosphere that instills Cooperation and Cohesion even in a competitive work environment. Not every team starts with good chemistry, but every team can have it. Every wonder why people who played on sports teams miss them so much? What if you could create a corporate culture that no one ever wanted to leave? Let me help get your organization moving in the right direction. Respect, admiration, discipline, cohesion and even competition are all attributes of good teams. A competitive environment is not in opposition to a good working environment. Respect and Cohesion are easier to achieve when missions and goals are clearly defined. Learn how to utilize everyone’s emotional intelligence to further your organizations mission. The secret however is how to succeed through both cooperative and competitive environments. If you think about a football or soccer team players must work together to succeed while at the same time compete for playing time with their team mates. Good teams thrive in this competitive environment. In the corporate / business world employees find themselves working on projects or in teams where they must both cooperate and compete with others. Learning to thrive in this pressurized can have great effects on an organization. Every wonder why people that played on sports teams miss them so much? What if you could create a corporate culture that no one ever wanted to leave? Let The Mental Game help get your organization moving in the right direction. Respect, admiration, discipline, cohesion and even competition are all attributes of good teams. A competitive environment is not in opposition to a good working environment. Respect and Cohesion are easier to achieve when missions and goals are clearly defined. Learn how to utilize everyone’s emotional intelligence to further your organizations mission. These activities are fun, intellectually stimulating and can have a tremendously positive effect on your company or organizations direction. Events are flexible and designed to work with you mission statement and goals.mental games for team building

So if your ambition is to be GM of the Year, call me today and let me prepare an individualized program to meet all of your company or team needs. I will work within your budget to produce a memorable event with lasting meanings. Team Building by Mike Margolies and The Mental Game I have been helping build teams for over thirty years. I do team building events and presentations for all types of non-sport organizations. I have programs that will blend into your event or I can put an event on for you. Most Team Building workshops offer insights into how a team succeeds through cooperation and many organizations play down the competitive nature of the business environment, yet this is the reality for most organizations. Promotions, project selection and salary are dependent on being competitive. Building Competitive Cooperative Teams. These events can be Keynotes, 1/2 day events or full weekend retreats. Please check my SpeakerMatch Profile for other business programs.

The Paradigm Shift in Sport Psychology

The Paradigm Shift in Sport Psychology

Working Conflict

tug of war between them and us

I have a new friend. We met on LinkedIn. He does Meta-analysis in sport. I’ve not really delved into what that means. He was born in the old Soviet Union and now resides in Israel. In one of our first conversations he said he knew many sports psychologists both in his days in the USSR and now in Israel. He said they are all poor. A curious statement to be sure. He felt the major issues revolved around who the Sport Psychology person worked for. If they work for the team, then how does the athlete trust them? The athlete might reveal something which could get them benched, if the SPC told the staff. If they work for the athlete, how does the  manager or coach trust that they are getting the correct information about the athlete’s state of mind. Trust on both sides has been an issue as long as I can remember. I’ve talked and written about this for years. My answer was always about integration of mental training into the team. Sport Psychology Consultant is there all of the time. They become part of the scene. My new friend’s statement got me thinking. Maybe the issue is not all a team issue, maybe it’s our issue too.

It is time we shift gears or paradigms, even if it means having to do so with a bit of humility (something I often discuss with athletes). If sport psychology was equal to other sport sciences, then a lot of our issues would go away. This is what I mean. If a football player needs more strength, the exercise physiology team with strength and conditioning people tell the athlete and the coaching staff what the player needs to do to perform at the next level. If the athlete has too much fat, a nutritionist tells the athlete and coaches the player needs to eat differently. If a quarterback has a poor throwing motion a bio-mechanics expert might go to the staff and suggest ways to fix it. Unless of course it’s Tebow, then nothing will help apparently.

When sport psychology notices a flaw in a player’s arsenal, be it stress, confidence or focus, we can only talk with the player behind closed doors. Why? Glad you asked. Because we still think of ourselves as psychologists. We are enamored with our pedigree. We talk about teaching skills, but will not allow that we are sport scientists, teachers and coaches. We teach athletes to have confidence, to get over blocks, to cope with stress and to focus better. Helping athletes and teams develop emotional intelligence is not the same as working with someone who is paranoid (no Jim Harbaugh  jokes).

Individual conversations are private. Just as the conversation between sport science staff and athlete are. The public is not invited, but the team maybe. The athletic trainer does not announce that an athlete has a weak hamstring to the world (injury reports aside).  The conversations are private, but the discussion is open to the staff. There are no secret. If there are no secrets, there is no shame. If there is no shame, then doing mental training becomes a part of the program.

Paradigm ShiftIs there a shift going on in sport psychology?

This is a shift, it’s a big shift. It means we are no longer as special. We are no longer different from the rest of the sports science team (we have a natural insecurity because others think our science is soft). We want to be like the team medical doctor. We want legal confidentiality between doctor and patient. We forget we are teaching mental skills. There is still the bond of trust between us, the athlete and team. We are not going public. We are like everyone on the team.

The bottom line is we teach skills to athletes. We help them discover as all good teachers do, elements that are missing from their skills set, in order to perform at a higher level. When we understand that, then we can share that with athletes, teams and others associated with sport. Since we all don’t get that, we are stuck. Hence the need for a paradigm shift.

Understand, I am not talking about working with depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol related issues, etc. requiring psychotherapy or other interventions.. I’ve been working with athletes for 35 years and have only referred athletes to psychotherapists three times. Maybe only healthy players seek me out. I don’t care. If there are other issues we can help them in other ways. We teach, consult, counsel athletes on mental skills. When we get that through our head, perhaps everyone else will as well.

These are just some thoughts to go along with my last few posts. Until then, I will shout at the wind and perhaps others will listen. I am a sport psychology consultant. I am a mental skills trainer. Come work with me and understand that mental skills training is just like everything else we do in sports to reach the next level. Yes it is in your head. Yes it is harder to measure the results. But sure as anything there is in this life, mental skills training is perhaps the most important part of your training routine.

So let’s all of us get out of your own way. Learn about mental toughness. Join the shift. If we do this, more athletes will follow. For athletes and teams, don’t miss out because a bunch of people like me don’t get it. Help us shift. We will help you back. Maybe even Tebow. Remember- Mental training is not a Luxury, it’s a Necessity!

Mental Training is not a luxury

Mental Training is not a luxury

Not a luxuryMental Training is not a luxury, it is a necessity!

When I wrote my last post on mental training being The Final Frontier my intention was to close with this statement. “Mental Training is not a luxury, it is a necessity!” Somehow it got lost in my enthusiasm. Or maybe it was in looking for a suitable picture from Star Trek. Either way I left it out.

I was honored this past week by being selected to be Expert in Residence at the Overlake School in Redmond WA.  The mission of The Overlake School is to Inspire excellence, Develop intellectual curiosity, Teach responsibility, Embrace diversity and Foster a compassionate community. We live our mission every day and it informs every decision we make. It was a great experience for me to make presentations to the entire school and do training sessions for 22 classes. I got to meet the majority of the students. Overlake has over 80% participation in sports and is nationally known for it’s excellence in education.

My message was pretty clear to all of the students. “Mental Training is not a luxury, it is a necessity!”. These students have tremendous advantages. They have supportive teachers, coaches and families. I took a poll in most of the classes I met with. What do you do to train mentally? How much time do you spend. The best answer I got was from a fencer. We work on strategy. He at least saw or felt like he was doing something positive. A few students took yoga and a few others said they practiced breathing to relax (incorrectly of course). But out of the 500 plus students I met with this week no one did any real mental training. No one said they had even read a book or an article on mental training. I did training sessions on mental toughness, motivation, resiliency, relaxation, imagery & visualization, concentration, stress & anxiety management, confidence and how their thoughts affect their emotions.

We either have to decide that sport is not 70-80% mental or that mental training is important to all athletes. The more I work with athletes and see how much greater their success is when they incorporate mental training into their regular regimen, the more I am convinced that “Mental Training is not a luxury, it is a necessity!”. Relaxation is not a luxury

I just updated The Mental Game website with a dozen stories about athletes I’ve worked with and what they focused on. You can see them here. I’ve been reticent about posting stories but was convinced by one of my former clients. These are a few examples I’ve picked that were instructive from the past 3 decades. One of the things that struck me as I was preparing this list were two of my current clients. Both very good athletes. Both were just recruited to the colleges they wanted to play for. Both stopped working on their mental game soon after receiving their acceptance letters. Both recently started up again because of slips in their performance.

When they called me to give them to get them a jump started again, as it were, they both acknowledged that they remembered that I had told them they needed to continue mental training as part of their routine. They didn’t stop conditioning, they each get private coaching in their sport in addition to team training, but that it regimented for them. I had set them up with a program, but it was one that they had to maintain. Lifting weights are visible reminders of what you need to do.  A spread sheet reminding you to do some mental training I guess is not as sexy. In my next post I’ll talk about what I’m doing with a company to provide a phone app as a reminder to do mental training.

The thing I want you to see is that even with the  success that these two athletes achieved (acceptance into an Ivy League School and a full ride to a university in the ACC), the need to think of mental training as a necessity instead of a luxury is critical. Mental training is not something you just read a book about and move on (unless it is The Athlete within You) Joking of course. It is something you put into practice for the rest of your athletic career.

If you understand this, believe it, then do something about it. You can read about sport psychology. There are lots of books out there besides mine, maybe not as good, but tons of great information. Find a book you like and figure out a program for yourself. Find a certified mental trainer/ sport psychology consultant and talk with them. I SKYPE with athletes all over the country and a few out of country  My SKYPE name is Mike.Margolies. I do a 20 minute consultation for free to see if our working together works for both you and me.  Then implement a program just as you implemented a strength and conditioning program. Follow your program and you will understand how it will help you find the real athlete within you.

Thoughts from the Darkness: Super Bowl 47

Thoughts from the Darkness: Super Bowl 47

Thoughts from the Darkness of Super Bowl 47Lights out in Super Bowl 47, how does this effect players mindset

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.

brothersThe 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.

End of an EraRay Lewis doing his final dance

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.