Seahawk’s Derrick Coleman and the Mental Game
You may have notice I don’t often write about professional players. This commercial about the Seahawk’s Derrick Coleman I think fits in well though. Derrick Coleman is a Seattle Seahawk Fullback. He has also been deaf since the age of three. The video is a commercial by Duracell about Coleman. It’s about his determination and unwillingness to give up his pursuit of a dream. It is a very positive message to everyone on not to give up.
There are questions, unasked that comes to mind. Why was he so determined? Where did he find the strength from within to keep chasing his dreams. Was it the way he was raised? Was it something he learned early on from a teacher or coach? These of course are unanswered questions. My real thought is this. And it is the thought that has driven me most of my life. What if you are someone who didn’t have this kind of drive from birth or didn’t learn it early in life? Are there ways to learn this later? I believe the answer to that question is unequivocal. The answer is of course “YES”! Derrick Coleman is a young man who refused to be bent by the opinion of others in pursuit of his dream. he had the drive to continue in spite of what many would consider a disability. Don’t get me wrong. Not everyone can play in the NFL. You have to have talent. But more than talent you must have drive. As the commercial ends saying, Trust the Power Within! He understands the Mental Game.
Now for me this power is a learned skill. Just like any skill learned early in life, this is a skill anyone can learn at anytime. I’ve worked with people in their 70’s wanting to learn to swim and kids under 12. All they had to do is decide this is something I want. They may not know what mental skill they need yet, but we can figure that out. Over the years I’ve found that this is very something that can be learned. All you need do is ask.
Trust the Power Within. Chase your dream. I just saw on Facebook where one of my clients is headed to Europe to chase his dream. Another is in LA with the US Men’s National Team Camp. Two very different types of players, both chasing dreams like Derrick Coleman. I’d love to meet Mr Coleman some day and talk with him about these questions. It is always possible to pass the information forward to help others find their dreams. That is a big part of the Mental Game.
Living in Seattle I would be remiss if I didn’t add something as an addendum. Today is the playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. This past December 2nd, 2013 the Saints got their heads handed to them 34-7. Few believe in a playoff game the score will be the same. Seahawks are favored. As a fan, I want them to win.
I got a call yesterday from the local NBC Affiliate King 5. They want to interview me this afternoon should the Seahawks lose the game. I’m not expecting them to call. GO HAWKS!
Illustrations coming for The Athlete within You
Illustrations coming to my book. A group in the UK has asked to publish an electronic version of my book “The Athlete within You”. It is a great advantage for me. It will be in a different version than the already available Kindle. The coolest part are the illustrations. They are going to illustrate it for me. The draft is pretty cool. I copied a few of me, yes I am now a caricature or character in my own book.
They drew them up from my picture in the book. It is an interesting thing from a psychological perspective to see oneself first on a book cover and then in illustrations. I am very particular about the photos used of me in print. I flat-out have a thing about them. Yes perhaps on this issue I could use some help. haha. A young friend corrected me on the ha thing as I was hyphenating each Ha. Live and learn.
Anyway on to the illustrations. I don’t mind the illustrations. It’s a funny thing. Is it because it is art? Is it because it uses imagination to depict something, where a photograph (un-airbrushed) represents reality with all of our flaws? I don’t look 30 anymore. My friends just fell over laughing at my semi implying I should. So what is it. If you look at my picture it is pretty accurate It represents me differently perhaps. The thing is because it is art I don’t mind. If Picasso drew me I’d likely have three mouths and ten hands. That would be OK because it is or was Picasso. It would also be worth millions, but that is neither hear nor there. It is just how we look at ourselves. This is not much different then how we look at ourselves as people. How we judge ourselves as athletes or business men and women. We see ourselves very often though different lenses. Sometimes it depend on the hat we wear. When I am speaking to a business group or corporation I often spend a good deal of time preparing the way I look. Is my shirt pressed. My running shoes clean (The speakers group I’m in would love it if I would always wear dress shoes, but then who would know I was involved in sports) and my tie properly arranged.
If I am speaking to a community group with lots of young people I might be in jeans and a tee-shirt, with sports coat.
When I am talking with a sports club I am very often in my Adidas warm-ups.
Part of our emotional intelligence is being aware of our strengths and weaknesses. I can handle my overt concern with photography. I have chosen to acknowledge this weakness. I live with it because I have to. My mental toughness persuades me to move forward regardless. And for athletes and others this understanding is critical. Be aware of a weakness. You can spend time on it if you need to perform optimally or you can build on a strength that allows you to overcome this flaw.
I feel differently about each set of attire. I wore suites and ties for 20 plus years so it is not a discomfort dressing up. It has to do with impressions and our own self perception. I am always excited to speak to groups. The intensity of some of those talks ratchets up and causes me to concern myself in greater detail with my appearance. I am comfortable in my own skin, but on camera the perception of reality is different. I just may have to have the illustrator follow me around for speaking engagements.
I’ll let everyone know as soon as the book is out on their site. It will be at the D-Book Store.
Tru Athlete Event
I am helping with a group here in the area called The Tru Athlete. A very cool idea. Competitors compete as a team in three sports. Soccer, Flag Football and Volleyball. It is Co-Ed. Ten players per team. Two female players on the field / court at all times. Champion is crowned by team that accumulates most points in all events. All in one day.
I am doing pre-competition talk to get everyone ready. Not really a motivational talk, because as you know I don’t do that. I help others find their motivation. But none the less I will try to inspire a few teams and be there during the day to help with their frustrations, anxiety and focus.
I am setting up in a booth. It will look something like this. I hope you know who doesn’t mind. I’d hate to have her pull the football away from me for taking her job.
Yes I am charging a nickel that’s 5 Cents. Depending on the long lines (right) consultations will be five minutes or longer. Might give them some exercises to do or play some games. I could do a concentration / focus exercise for a time and give away a prize. That could be fun. Fastest time wins a book or 1 hr consultation. Say a $1 per entry. Who says Mental training can’t be fun?
All money from consultations will be given to charity (not sure which one yet). I will also sell books and give some of the profits to the same charity. It should be a fun event. Not the usual event I work at. There isn’t always beer when I’m working. But it will be fun. Come join us at Starfire Sports July 27th, 2013. It will be a blast. It’s The Tru Athlete. They will be doing more of these events around the country. Might have to send my booth with them if Lucy doesn’t mind, that is.
The Final Frontier: Mental Training
I was looking through some old pictures and articles from over twenty-five years ago. I don’t have a lot of the old things due in part to a burst pipe in the basement, but I have a few things. I pulled out this old and not very well written article I did for some magazine. It was called “The Final Frontier Mental Training”. I had written it because I thought sport psychology and mental training were finally becoming “NORMAL” for all athletes. I had been working with a number of athletes preparing them for everything from World Championships and High School. I was seeing 10-15 athletes a week. Life was starting to be good not only for the athletes as their success was almost always improved but for me as well. This was pre-internet days. Social media was word of mouth. Athletes and their coaches were starting to reach out. I assumed mental training was now finally in the mainstream. I used the Final Frontier because of Star Trek. I in fact went looking for the old article because of the new Star Trek movie release and it hit a nerve with me. The Final Frontier. My meaning then was two-fold. We were exploring how to get the most out of an athlete. New techniques and ways of teaching mental skills The second was we were being accepted in mainstream coaching. Sport Psychology Consultants were being hired in pro sports.
25 plus years ago I did believe I was on the cutting edge of sport psychology. I was one of those applied people. Working in the field with athletes rather than a researcher. My interests were in helping athletes run faster, jump higher etc. We were helping athletes at all levels. We were mainstream. Move ahead 25 years.
I’m still explaining what I do to athletes, parents, coaches and people I meet on the street. I was on the phone yesterday with an internet consultant from GoDaddy. He was helping me with a technical issue with my website. When he wondered what it was I did, I thought here’s a geek, a non sports guy. So I explained. Turned out he was a geek that played college DI basketball at a pretty big University. He had no idea about mental training. Never really used visualization or imagery. Had issues with being able to focus and relax. At 6’8″ he might have been able to continue to play. He decided he just wasn’t good enough so he gave up something he loved as a sophomore in college. He has not played ball in seven years. Not even for fun. Such a waste. maybe he will get a pair of shoes and wonder over to the gym now. I hope so.
Performance is mental
I’m fond of misquoting Yogi Berra the Hall of Fame Baseball player and coach. 80 percent of all performance is mental and the other 50 percent is physical. Then why are we still at the edge of the Final Frontier. Why are we not mainstream. I train a football player preparing for his Pro Day. His time to be seen by NFL scouts so he might be drafted. (He understood the importance of mental training and sought me out) He is working with a strength and conditioning coach. He is working with his position coach. He is getting nutritional advice. An he is working on his mental game. That alone makes him unusual. You see while everyone says it is the biggest part of performance, few actually practice what they admit to.
When I am speaking I often ask for a show of hands and ask “What was the reason for your poorest performances. Virtually everyone says the other team or opposition was better physically, technically and strategically says everyone, like NEVER!. It is always some form of I wasn’t mentally there. I couldn’t concentrate I was stressed out. It it so rare that I hear they were just a better team. Do you think that the San Francisco 49ers are saying that the Baltimore Ravens are a better team? (Now John Harbaugh is likely still blaming the refs) but the players will point to a mental let own somewhere. It is as I said the difference maker.
Still on the Edge
Yet here we are still on the edge of the Final Frontier. Pro teams, college teams all have full time strength and conditioning coaches. Some will have a part time Sport Psychology Consultant. An outsider not integrated with the team. Helpful, but not there yet. Individual athletes are the same. I had a conversation today with someone who wants mental training for his team and his own kids. I know he has the money, but a new pair of cleats or a technical camp is a higher priority.
If mental training is your lowest priority then take it off your list. If you are going to fail then it is not because of anxiety, stress, focus, negative thoughts, motivation, fear, discipline, mental toughness, anger, emotions, self-confidence or even team cohesion. You just are not good enough. You are physically inferior to everyone you have ever lost a contest to. The player that beat you last week that you have never lost to before, just got better than you. You might as well either hit the gym or give up because there is little you can do. What’s that? Practicing harder seems to hurt your performance. You can’t seem to find the discipline to stay on track with your training. Don’t worry it is genetic. Nothing you can do about it.
The water in the pool is just fine
OK sarcasm rant is over. Yes I do think Mental Training is the Final Frontier. I know that mental training will help you perform at a higher level. It’s just a mater of are you going to do the work. You are out there working your butt off, lets exercise the mind as well. It will make a difference. Jump on in the waters fine.
Thoughts from the Darkness of Super Bowl 47
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.
End of an Era
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.
What lessons can and should we learn from the two-week build up for the Super Bowl?
I can think of a few Super Bowl lessons and I’m sure others can add some things too. This of course comes up each year at the Super Bowl and for the most part it is the same each year. There are I think some important lessons and choices we can all understand.
Super Bowl Lessons from the build up
- With lots of time on their hands at least one person is going to brag about themselves. This years biggest bragger is Randy Moss.
- Now if you have read some of my posts I encourage athletes to brag in my office. Sometimes it is important to say good things about yourself. We do not however do it in front of millions to draw attention to self. Randy Moss is a great receiver. One of the best. No need to say he is better than Jerry Rice other than to hear his own voice. (more…)