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




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







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.

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.

Super Bowl Lessons for Us All

Super Bowl Lessons for Us All

What lessons can and should we learn from the two-week build up for the Super Bowl?super bowl 2

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.
  • super bowl lessonsNow 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…)
A year in review 2012

A year in review 2012

A year in review 2012a year in review

I’ve not ever felt a need to do this before, to have a year in review. It is a new experience for me. I want to look back at 2012 with clarity and be able to move forward in new ways. So taking my own advice, I am going back over the successes and of course challenges of the past year. You can cut to the chase by going to the last paragraph if you like.

Starting with the Athletes and their sports

A year in review with DeAndre Yedlin and Mike Margolies

Sounders FC U23 Player DeAndre Yedlin with Mike Margolies

I worked with an amazing group of athletes this year including those in the following sports: Golf, football, gymnastics, hockey, equestrians, soccer, tennis, swimming, softball, baseball, track, diving, roller derby, basketball, triathlon, cycling, fencing, water skiing, fitness, power lifting and lacrosse.

Competitor’s ages ranged from 12 to 70+.  Competitive levels were club, high school, college and professional. Seven high school athletes earned scholarships or were accepted to their first choice college as an athlete (Ivy League = no athletic scholarships). One college walk-on earned her full scholarship. Most the athletes, but not all, were starters on their respective teams. In the end all were starting most of their games. I worked with a few teams as well at the club and minor league levels. All in all it was a very good year for the clients I worked with. If I were to put it in baseball terms, I would say that we batted around .900       Read the rest of the post by choosing more…. (more…)

Happy Holiday’s to All from The Mental Game

Happy Holiday’s to All from The Mental Game

I want to wish everyone Happy Holiday’s!Christmashanukahkwanza

Happy Holiday’s from The Mental Game. It has been an interesting year for most of us. The economy has not yet turned around and there are challenges yet to be faced around the world in terms of freedom, peace, health and social acceptance. As with most things, we make a few steps forward and take a step back. This was a good year in many ways and friends are celebrating new adventures. I am glad you are out there.

This year has been great for little things in life like my book, “The Athlete within You- a mental approach to sports and business” While not yet on the New York Times Best Sellers list, it has been selling and more important for me, I get compliments from those that read it. Just a week or so ago I got a message from a Major League Soccer player who was reading it and took the time to write to me how much he was enjoying it. I’ve had tons of parents tell me the same thing and that now they understand what their kids are going through. It is all very gratifying.The Athlete within You - a book by Mike Margolies

Clients. My clients are amazing people and teams. They have had one of the best years ever both on the playing field and off. They are learning mental skills and becoming mentally tough. High School athletes getting scholarships and the same for a couple of walk on college players. Some college players getting the chance to play at the next level. One of the things I am most happy about is how well athletes are using the mental skills training in all parts of their life. Grades are improving as well as their achievements in other areas of their lives. I got a huge compliment just today from the husband of a client as he jumped on to our SKYPE call to tell me how much he appreciated what his wife was learning and how it was translating to other areas of their lives. He’s going to be introducing me to businesses because of what he has seen. I’m looking forward to it!

Speaking of Businesses. I’ve had a great time doing team building with company’s this year and it is cool to see how well they adopt the things we teach in sports to their own building with the mental game

Speaking of Speaking. This has been an area where I have had a lot of fun doing both paid gigs and working with service organizations gratis. In January I will be giving appreciation seminars for a major financial institution and a major Mutual Fund. This is an area I’ve focused on and it is starting to move forward.

Wishing everyone Happy Holiday’s from my family to yours. Just wanted you to know I am grateful for all of you out there that read this blog. Please feel free to comment back or you can reach me through The Mental Game to say hello. If you would like to give a book to a friend or family member I am posting shortly a way to give a gift and for a portion of your purchase to go to children.  The link will be here . Working on the details now.

Why mental training?

Why mental training?

Mental trainingWhy mental training?

I was asked the other day and not for the first time why do mental training? I have been a proponent for three decades now that everyone should do mental training and working with someone like myself can help give every athlete a new set of tools or even one tool that will help them get to a new level of performance. I have worked with beginners to world champions and everyone finds something that is useful to them. But the question is still often asked so I thought I would address it here today.

The usual questions start with how does mental training or sport psychology help athlete’s perform at a higher level. Generally before I can answer that question the person will ask; will it help me deal with ___________________? There is a long list usually dealing with fear or anxiety. The answer is yes it will help and in so many other areas as well. Usually people will ask about a certain area.

mental training list

In general I usually work with athletes on some form of the things I have listed below. If you are astute the thing you will notice is that I have listed a combination of training techniques and issues. I’ve done this because over the years I have found that people tend to think about sport psychology in both terms issues and techniques. An example is relaxation training. Athletes may want to learn how to deal with stress and the easiest way for them to talk about it is they want to learn to relax. Whatever way you want to think about is OK. What I want you to understand is that regardless of how you think about sport psychology and mental training it must be in your arsenal as a hockey player. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have, and I have worked with world champions, this is an area that you can improve and help yourself get to the next level. (more…)