Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim

Do we throw people into the deep end to teach them to be mentally tough?

Sink or swim, throwing athletes into the deep end

Once upon a time we used to teach kids to swim by taking them to the end of a pier and throwing them in the water. Some of them figured out how to swim, some survive poorly but could function when thrown in again, and some just sank to the bottom and drowned. Mental toughness is like this. It’s sink or swim.

It seems that in sports today we do the same thing. We throw people into high pressure sports situations without teaching them mental toughness. We allow the same thing to happen. Those with grit make it to the top usually just based on athleticism. They get the experience to learn how to deal with pressure. They learn how to focus and they continued feedback that builds their confidence. What of the late developers then? They don’t get the experiences and if they aren’t real motivated at the time to overcome the effects of riding the pine (sitting on the bench) so they fail to develop the mental skills that others are developing through experiences. And it’s not just the late developers. Often times gifted athletes do not develop the right set of skills either, but because of their athleticism and success on the field they get to play. The problem hits them usually in transition to the next level. This can be JV to Varsity, high school to college and even college to the pro’s. I see it all of the time. It’s what keeps us busy as mental trainers®.

What if we change the model? What if we start teaching people to be mentally tough through mental skills training? What if teachers were trained in elementary school to help kids with mental skills? What if they we paid attention to how kids were developing their emotional intelligence? Let’s start programs for kids early on in middle school and high school teaching mental skills. Oh I know teachers do some things, but they are usually one shot experiences.

Today we no longer throw kids into the deep end. We start them out in the shallows where they can develop their swimming skills without fear. Don’t we owe it to people today to teach them mental toughness skills before they need them to survive? I see athletes every day who come in with what they consider issues. They can’t handle pressure or they lack confidence. When I ask them have they ever learned to relax they say sure I watch TV or listen to music. Myself I don’t find hip hop all that relaxing, but then I listen to AC/DC. OK well maybe over time I’ve added relaxing jazz to the mix to relax.

It’s up to us to change the way we bring athletes up. Those of us who are in the field or sport psychology, those who are teachers and coaches. Let’s stop throwing people into the deep end to see if they can sink or swim. Start out in the shallow end and help more people become successful in sports and life.

Learning to swim in the shallow end of the pool



Stories from Clients, Coaches and Families

Stories about athletesIt has taken me a very long time to agree to use these stories or testimonials (I hate that word).  I have been encouraged to do so by the parents, coaches and athletes I’ve worked with.  These are just a few of the kind remarks I’ve kept locked away.  Former clients and their parents tell me I’ve been backwards not telling these types of success stories.  They say it makes it easier for people to find me. I just thought of it as self promotion. For years I told them just refer me to others and that is enough.  

Well when I heard from Mauricio Bardales, former DI & DII NCAA Champion in the decathlon and he told me I was just being stupid, I guess I had to listen. So here are a few of the people who have touched my life over the years.There are more than 2000 more stories tucked away. Maybe one day I’ll bring some more of them out.

I’ve a wall in my office and I am now collecting pictures of current and former athletes. Perhaps I am just at that age where I need help remembering them better.

If you are a former athlete I’ve worked with and are willing to share your story, drop me an email and I’ll put your story here as well. Even better, give me a call and let’s catch up. -MM

DeAndre Yedlin is one of the stories


I have had many requests not just for stories, but what athletes did in their mental training. While most every athlete I’ve worked with goes through an entire program certain skill sets were of particular emphasis or help. Here are a few selected stories from the last 30+ years. I tried to cover a few from each decade. Below the stories are a few of the many testimonials I felt I could put on here.

Male age 19. College Soccer. Coaches felt he struggled with mental toughness. Resiliency training, relaxation/ guided imagery, anchoring. Played in every game as a sophomore. Started all but one. 3rd in assists (he’s a defender. Just signed his first professional MLS contract after his sophomore season.

Female age 16. Fencer (Saber). One time youth National Champion. She was not competing well (at her level) for a while. She continued to compete in national Level events, but was not doing as well as she had previously. We worked together for seven months. No particular focus other than on her mental game for the first time. Started seeing a change soon after we started, but a real change at about the 5 month mark. She started doing better in pool play, then advancing further in Elimination Rounds. At a recent World Cup Event she was Silver medalist only loosing to the worlds Number 1 ranked Junior Fencer. At the recent Junior Olympic Competition she won Gold in both her own age group (cadet) and in the Junior Category (20 & under).

Female age 17. High School / Club Gymnastics. She could not do her dismount from uneven bars. States were the next day. She had to move on to Regional’s and Nationals to be seen by Ivy League Coaches. Had State Championships the next day when I was called. I worked with her at the gym. CBT and hypnosis.  She has been accepted as a gymnast to Brown.

Male age 17 year old male football player. Quarterback. Recovery from sever back injury and surgery. Confidence, pain management, flexibility, psych rehab. CBT, relaxation training, hypnosis. Surgery in late May. Player started out 2nd string. 3rd game in having missed all spring ball and most summer workout promoted to starter. He is now deciding on where he is going to accept an offer to play college football..

Female age 15. Club Soccer. Confidence and anxiety. She is a very small player. Good touch and tough. Told by everyone but her club coach that she was too small. Club coach is a soccer genius. She was moving on to a new club. Issues with High School coach. Confidence building, cognitive techniques and imagery rehearsal.  Cut from high school team. Will be playing in college next year with a full scholarship.

Female 20-22 Female figure skater. Confidence, stress, coaches expectations and sponsor. Worked with skater for 1.5 years through the world championships. She had difficulty dealing with her abusive coach. Hypnosis, CBT. Going into world championships rated 5th in the world. 3rd in USA. Won Bronze medal in World Championships ahead of #2 US skater. Earned a trip to the Olympics.

Male age 22. Ranked in top 3 in the world in decathlon. US DI & DII Champion. Wanted to build mental skills for the Olympics. Small stature. Good at speed events. Weight events were an issue. Two of the primary events we were working on were discus and shot put. He improved by 27 and 18 percent respectively. Primarily used goals setting, relaxation and imagery rehearsal. Plan was to focus on more events as the year progressed. President of the United States cancelled US participation in Olympics and because of time restraints backed off mental training. I still have contact with him. Successful business person in CA. I do some occasional work with his daughter. It has been 34 years.

Male age 18. Club and HS Soccer player. Psychological rehabilitation following injury. Following a torn ACL parents brought client into talk with me. I know the family. Player decided SP not for him. 4 months later one month after returning to practice he blows out his ACL again. Same issues and added problem of playing premier level for his coach father. Father is a recognizable name in the coaching community. CBT, confidence building, goal setting, NLP and imagery. Player returned to play. Will play next season at a community college to get his grades up. Grades improved his senior season (one of his goals) to the point where he has drawn interest from DI & DII Universities.

Male age 18. High School Football. Headed to a military academy prep School. Mental Toughness. Worked on full mental training to prepare him for DI football. He ended up leaving prep school because of military lifestyle and academic goals. Has had an offer and has enrolled in an in-state DI university to play football.

Female age 21. College walk on golfer. Confidence, pre shot routine, self talk. Worked on mental skills training on and off the golf course. After performing well in tournaments she was offered a scholarship for her senior year.

Junior A Hockey Team Males ages 16-20. Mental toughness, goal setting, Last year they went 22-20-3 in their first year. I did some Skype work with them to prepare for playoffs. This year I spent a week with the team in training camp focusing on mental preparation and skills. Today they are 21-8-1 with about 15 games remaining. They have been competitive against the top teams in the country.

Female early 40’s. Show Jumper. Confidence, negative self talk, focus. High level show jumper looking to be competitive at the next level. Imagery, goal setting, concentration training, CBT, She has made large strides advancing two heights. In 8+ competitions this winter she has finished no less than 5th out of 30+.

Male age 13-15 yrs old. Male Figure Skater. Confidence, anxiety, lacked fluidity. Great athlete. Mental skills training A-Z for 2 years. First encountered athlete as a research subject at the USOTC. Most helpful was imagery rehearsal with a focus on timing, absorption of music into performance, coping behavior. Eventual US Champion and World Champion.


It’s Mauricio.  I’m glad I caught up to you.  Man it’s been a long time.  Things are good. I have a small business and nice family.  I still think about how you helped me pursue my dreams towards the Olympics.  The thing with the discus was so crazy.  Be well my friend and let’s stay in touch.

-Mauricio, Business Owner, Orange, CA

Hey Mike,
I hope to have you come speak to the team again this Spring as we aim for two championships in row!  Your help pre-race helped our team tremendously.  Thanks again!
— Coach JD, Track & Field Coach, Colorado Springs, CO

Among the many things I’m grateful to my son’s coach for doing is putting us in touch with you.  You’ve given Patrick a lot of the tools that he uses on a daily basis now, whether in baseball or life, and they are a tremendous asset.  I’m sure he’ll appreciate more and more as he matures.
–Donna G, Programmer, Redmond, WA

Mike Margolies was effective in helping me to recognize how flaws in my thought processes play a role in feelings of anxiety about work and career. He taught me how breathing and meditation exercises can be effective tools for controlling anxiety and worry. These tools help me to stay in the “here-and-now” so I can better recognize what I have control over and what I do not. Mike is a positive and supportive counselor who I would recommend to others without hesitation.
–Dan M, Microsoft Engineer, Redmond, WA

I’m sorry that we didn’t catch up with you at the game. In any event, I wanted to tell you that we’ve seen a transformation of James, both on and off the field. Other people close to the team, parents, coaches, and players, have also noted the change. You will probably receive some referrals, based on your work.  It’s really everything we had hoped for. I just want to thank you for your work and hopefully we’ll have that opportunity to meet again in the playoffs!
-Jane M, Realtor, Bellevue, WA

I know I’ve told you this a hundred time, and maybe you will let others know how I feel now, but think you again for helping me with my game. I would have been lost on the golf course these last few years if you had not been there for me. I know you hate the words magic, but that’s the way it seemed to me. You helped me discover what I was passionate about, why I played golf in the first place, and that helped me go from Nike Tour to the PGA tour. The rest of life has been great for me.
-Jon, PGA Golfer, Orlando, FL

Our daughter was very comfortable working with you. You provided a warm, comfortable and relaxing environment that definitely helped speed through the rapport building part of the process. This obviously made us feel more comfortable also.
You went above and beyond in learning about her sport and the dynamics of her coach and her as an athlete and as a person. She did actually enjoy coming to meet with you . . . looked forward to it. The ideas/instructions and work was well tailored to her needs and issues as well as her age and maturity level.
As parents we appreciated the brief updates you gave us on a regular basis. The work was focused, yet broad enough and even more beneficial because it applied to her on other levels not just the sports issue.
Overall, it was a very good and beneficial experience. In addition to helping with the specific performance issue I think it was good for her to experience this kind of “professional” help and know that that are people like you in the world that can help by talking these things out and offering professional guidance.
-Sandy W, Financial Analyst, Seattle, WA

You really do rock.  OK did I really talk like that?  I guess I did.  You must have thought I was out there just because of that.  I had a great career as you know.  I’m not sure I’d have gotten there if not for your help.  You taught me so many things I don’t know where to start.  Learning to be accountable for my actions, self confidence and handling stress was key.  Ten years in the NFL was so quick.  You said it would be.  My mind is still strong can say the same for the knee but that was the risk of course.  Jess is doing great.  I’m going to send Jenny out next year before she starts college soccer.
Be well,
-Tom J, Former NFL Player, San Diego, CO

Hey Mike,
Can’t thank you enough for helping with Anne’s breathing problem.  Since she has worked with you she can play the whole soccer match.  You taught her to handle her anxiety.   She made varsity and is a very happy kid.  Thanks again.
-Michele A, Financial Adviser, Sammamish, WA

It was great seeing you on the course last week. Since the workshop I attended I’ve dropped my handicap 5 strokes. I’m now taking money from my buddies that for years took it from me. Such simple suggestions and my game is so much better now. The one thing you didn’t mention was how different I would feel no longer being the guy no one really wanted on their team at corporate events. I was going to get you together for a corporate outing and I thought why should I share the secret. Just kidding. I’m going to get it scheduled for May. I think we will have 15 to 20. Looking forward to having you on campus.
-Bill S, National Sales Manager, Los Angeles, CA

I don’t know if you remember me.  This is Marcus H.  You might remember me more by my gang name XXXXXXXX.  I just wanted to let you know that your time was well spent.  You’re pulling me along, holding me accountable and teaching me not only to take care of my mental game but to love sport really did keep me in school.  That was a few years ago of course.  In June I get my Bachelors degree.  Mom still tells the story when I ditched your session and you came into the hood looking for me.  I just want you to know that if you hadn’t come to get me that day, I don’t think I would be walking in June.  XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
-Marcus H, Electrical Engineer, Los Angeles, CA

This is Coach Bobby Sxxx .  Your class on the Psychology of Coaching that you did here years ago not only helped me, but our community.  I talk with Jack W every week.  He was the basketball coach in the group.  We both use what we learned in the course and if nothing else the experience for our young people seems so much better.
-Bobby S, Retired High School Coach, Worland, WY

Running into you last week was awesome.  I haven’t seen you in maybe 10 years.  I just wanted to tell you again how great it was to see you.  You really helped me through the knee rehab so I could have a great senior year at UXX.  I have great memories from college and senior year was best.  It never would have happened if you weren’t there for me and taught me how to focus psychologically during the rehab process.  I’m coaching HS football now as an assistant.  I think I do a better job at it because of what I learned from you.  It is very meaningful to me to work with kids.  I make enough $, and helping kids is a different type of reward.  God Bless and be well.
-Johnny K, High School Football Head Coach, Richmond, VA

You were right of course, it was time to either go to work on a real career or dedicate myself to golf.  You helped me through a tough time.  I was kind of lost.  Sometimes I think that I should have kept playing and then I look at my kids and know I made the right decision for me.  I’m glad you were there to guide me.
-Jason A, Transit Manager, Fullerton, CA

What can I say?  I’m not sure when I was 15 I really appreciated what you were teaching me to do with the imagery and relaxation.  I do now know that it really helped me get to where I wanted to go with skating.  The folks say hi and thanks as well.
-Susie Y, Business Owner, Dallas, TX

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


  • 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.” 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. 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.
Can we learn from the Seahawks?

Can we learn from the Seahawks?

Can we learn from the Seahawks?Can we learn from the Seahawks

Teams are preparing for the biggest game of the year, in arguably the biggest venue, the Big Apple- New York City. Most all the focus is on the Denver Broncos Payton Manning

broncosand the historic passing offence vs the Seattle Seahawks Legion of Boom and the #1 ranked Defense. The game takes place on a huge stage. The focus is mostly on Offense and Defense, X’s and O’s, but might the real contest be in everyone’s head?  Yes and how will the mental game play a role in the outcome?

One thing we have heard is that the Seattle Seahawks work with a Psychologist from Los Angeles. Many of the players including young quarterback Russell Wilson meet with him weekly. ( The idea that at the pinnacle of football (or any other sport) athletes openly meet with someone to help them with their mental game come into play in New York?

bronco OHow mentally prepared is each team? To what degree will mental toughness effect these two great teams? These are the real questions.

Mental toughness training is telling and the Seahawks have been doing this now for two years. Is their rise to the top in the NFL due to X’s and O’s. Is it based on the draft and free agency? Is it the leadership from Pete Carroll and his Win Forever mentality? Absolutely! But it is this same mentality that brings in someone to help players with their mental training. This is perhaps a much overlooked area where athletes can make huge improvements in performance and it is not often that people can work with celebrity performance psychologist. Meditation is just a small part of the equation in learning to be emotionally intelligent on the field.

Mental Training Inc. provides worldwide mental training to athletes of all levels. In the Pacific Northwest Mike Margolies CMT® of MTI works with individuals, teams and corporations. You can contact me there or via The Mental Game.

RW“The thing is that today any athlete wanting to learn to be the best that they can be can work with someone and improve their mental toughness”.

So can we learn from the Seahawks? You can be prepared like Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. It is far more available than you would have thought. Turn that thought into real action and become mentally tough, calm and poised in whatever your sport. Performance is more than X’s and O’s. Find out why the best in the world work on their mental game with a qualified Sport Psychology Consultant / Certified Mental Trainer®. 

The Mental Game is here to Stay

The Mental Game is here to Stay

The Mental Game

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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

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!

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!