Traveling Mental Trainer

Traveling Mental Trainer

Traveling Mental Trainer

Travel Blog Series

It’s Wednesday the 17th of December, 2013. I am a little more than 24 hours away from flying to the Middle East to do a one day seminar for 70-100 athletes. I thought I would blog about the adventure, about the travel, food and the people I meet of course with pictures. This is exactly the way I have been envisioning my work as the Traveling Mental Trainer. Seminars and workshops around the world. Talking with Athletes, Teams, Coaches and businesses about sport psychology and how it can solve issues and help others perform at the highest levels. Now it’s true that this vision of mine is 25 years after I first planed on working around the world. I’m getting better as some will remember it took me 32 years to finish my book. Ha- so there. I am getting better on my time table. Things get done sometimes in their own time, but it helps to follow through to encourage things along.

What I find so fun is the opportunity to meet with and help people of different cultures in differeTraveling Mental Trainer First Stopnt environments. Sports bring people together and I am really looking forward to being part of that. 

So this trip is to the Kingdom of Bahrain. I was engaged back in July by the National Sports Management Group. It was an interesting process as I needed to be approved by the government and that included my book and all of my handouts and my curriculum vita (resume). The seminar will be at the Crown plaza Hotel in Manama. this will be Saturday the 21st. On Sunday I am scheduled to do a two hour workshop with one of their National Teams. 

 

I want these posts to be fun. I’m not going to talk about The Game within the Game. I’m going to talk about the travel, the people I meet and the food.  (Yes I am a repressed foodie blogger). I am taking a good camera and will have pictures and video to share. Come join me on the adventure. I leave for London and then onto Manama in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Traveling Mental Trainer goes to Manama, Bahrain

Here’s a picture I lifted from the hotel Website to show what Manama looks like. I’ll make a comparison later. 

Until tomorrow.  Be Well.

 

 

 

 Forgot, here’s the link to the seminar. Game within the Game

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.

Review Athlete within You

Review Athlete within You

Review Athlete within Youreview athlete within you

Please review Athlete within You. I am looking for some new reviews of my book “The Athlete within You –  a mental approach to sports  and business”. I need these on amazon.com. The link will take you there and you can just add a short review. So if you have purchased a book and would kindly add a nice review I would appreciate it. If you have not yet read my book, I will make you an offer that is tough to beat. email me and I will give you a PDF version of the book for you to read and review (and I trust enjoy). 

There are no conditions. Oh except that you need to email me for the book request. I promise not to sell or otherwise disrespect your privacy.

all you need to do is email me at margolies@themental-game.com Just put review athlete within you as the subject header and I will gladly email you a copy. When you finish, if you liked what I had to say, then all you need do is click on the amazon link here and add your review. 

Couldn’t be easier. I am grateful to all that help me out.

 

Thank you.

 

Mike

Two Cs

Two Cs

Two Cs

Some time ago I wrote a post called Five Frogs Sitting on a Log. two cs of commitment and convictionYou might want to re-read it now. I wrote about the difference between deciding to do something and actually doing something and that they are different. I trust that it made sense to you. The next step is the Two Cs: Commitment and Conviction. I want to start by telling you about an athlete.

About a year and a half ago I got a call from the mother of a gymnast. Her daughter was a junior in high school. She had been a gymnast since she was like 5. She wanted to be on a gymnastics team in college (@ an Ivy League School no less). She had been to Nationals the last several years, but now she was unable to do her release on the uneven bars. That’s a reverse double somersault  She needed to do well at State to make Regional’s, and then Regional’s to go on to National’s. Failure at any stage would impact her competing in college at the level and school she wanted. There were college coaches who wanted to see her at Nationals. She was on their radar. Could I help her daughter? Oh and by the way State Championships are tomorrow!

So I went to the gym and watched her be stuck. We talked, she got unstuck. Then we worked on keeping her at a level where she could perform. End of story is the young woman is at an Ivy League College and she is on the Gymnastics Team.

two cs commitment and conviction

She was just missing a small thing that was keeping her from success. It wasn’t magic. She was under pressure to perform. She had seen a bad injury. Her thoughts were on that and not on her commitment to doing the routine. She was not focused on the NOW, but in the past and future. 

With regards to her routine she was focused on the result. She was committed to landing her dismount. This is what I noticed. She was not committed to her routine. It was slow and out of rhythm. It threw her timing off to the point that she could not let go of the bar and do her release. So we talked about being committed from the start.

Being committed from the start does two things (something soccer players should note). 1) It gets you going from the beginning of the event. How many soccer players start of slow? Are you one of them? Make a commitment to bring it from the get go and you will start faster. 2) Commitment is the resolve to be who you want to be and do what you want to do. Commitments are hard. All you need do is look around you to figure that out. So when you make a real commitment, things that were once a problem don’t seem to stand in the way any longer.

The next part is conviction. Don’t get this confused with arrogance. Believing you are right has to be measured. And level doesn’t seem to matter. If you do something well, have the conviction to believe you can do it. In her case she had been doing double back flip releases for years. She just let other images get in her way. It came down to her belief. When she had conviction, her release was easy.

In soccer and other sports I see the same thing all the time. Great players, even if they do things a bit different from everyone else have the conviction that they can be successful playing a certain way. In a team sport of course this better fit the team and coaches style, but you can make it work.

If you have the two Cs you are a lot closer to success than you realize. If you don’t, well it’s just a matter of adding the third C: Convincing yourself that the other two will get you there. Give these two Cs some thought the next time you head to practice or your game.

Is there something in your life that has you stuck?

Stillpower and other tools in Sports

Stillpower and other tools in Sports

Stillpower and other tools in Sports

What’s the line from the movie Network, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore”? This post is all about Catharsis, Stillpower, Mindfulness and Hypnosis and other tools in Sports. Well maybe it is more about professional approaches to helping athletes perform their best.Psychological tools to fit the individual

I read a blog post by an author named Garret Kramer called Stillpower. I bought Kramer’s book several months ago as it was recommended by Amazon when you buy my book, “The Athlete within You“. In and of itself the book is useful.  It is about his technique of Stillpower. It can be known in other terms as mindfulness or even Gap Training.  I appreciate his presentation and the writing is FINE. (yes I meant to do that)

Here is what has me mad as hell. I love tools, tools to help athletes and business people with their skills so they can achieve their dreams and goals. I call them tools where others might say techniques or even philosophies, but I’m going to stick with the metaphor as tools because a wise person once told me there is a right tool for every need.

Both in his book and in his blog right away he starts in on how sport psychology is all wrong. His blog titled “Do You Use Mental Techniques? Here’s Why They’re Not Working” goes along with the side note in his book. That basically those of us who do and teach mental training are ineffective and it is all about Stillpower. I’m not going to disagree that “Stillpower” as he calls it or Mindfulness is not to some extent a critical component to great performance, because it is. Stillpower and Mindfulness are important tools in our arsenal.  But believing an athlete can get to A to Z with a single technique is not mindful; it is in my opinion mindless.

To go with this last week I read a post by a sports hypnotist and NLP Practitioner who said visualization was next to useless. He showed a video with Tiger Woods. Woods says he does not use visualization. I’d be really interested to interview Tiger on that. My bet is it is a semantics difference. The Hip, hypnotist used it to his own end from an NLP perspective to play a different kind of semantics game. As I have completed research at the United States Olympic Training Center on the use of imagery or visualization I think I will go with findings rather than semantics.

So I feel like I need to respond in some way. Am I defending Sport Psychology? I guess so. I can be both privately and publicly a critic of some of the Sport Psych Family for some of their narrow (some as narrow as the above) views or practices. So I am not a simple defender of the faith, if you will.

Sport Psychology offers something called scientific study. We have a decent history (not great) of looking at things that work and don’t work. I’m at times critical of how or why we look at something’s, but at least we do research. I’d prefer researchers would take a closer look at what those of us in applied sport psychology do and study that more closely or look at areas we think are important, but that basically can be said for all areas of psychology.

Now don’t get me wrong, I use Stillpower or gap training or mindfulness whatever one wants to call it today. I use hypnosis and NLP too. But they are tools, just like Cognitive Behavioral Techniques (CBT) and other psychological tools. So while censuring sport psychology and mental training may be good for selling books, perhaps it might be better to some things that are actually studied fail to be effective, because well, they don’t work for everyone……

What tools do you use?

Stillpower and other tools in Sports treeIf we think about mental training as a tree with many branches you can understand that different people may need help from different areas of the tree. One might be mindfulness as meditation has 1000’s of years of history helping people. It might be hypnosis or NLP, or CBT or Gestalt. Human beings are complex creatures. With my apologies to behaviorist, athletes are not dogs salivating at the sound of a bell (or whistle for athletes, though some actually do). Different mental skills require different solutions. Different athletes (people) require different solutions. Cookie cutter training is ineffective. Do I have a program?  Absolutely! Does it change dependent on athlete needs? You better believe it does!

I’m very sure Kramer sells more books than I do. I know the sports hypnotist sells more programs on his website than I do. I also know that I make simple statements like I can help you get better at what you do. No miracles. Mental training, based in science; which has been shown to be an effective way of increasing performance. Thirty-five years’ experience helping people reach their goals and dreams.  There is a huge tool box out there with tools (techniques like Stillpower) that can help you perform better. Why not find out which ones are right for you?

OK, I’m still mad as hell, but that was cathartic and I feel better. And I still have my mind.

ANTs will inherit the Earth

ANTs will inherit the Earth

ANTs will inherit the Earth (if you let them)

ANTs being Automatic Negative Thoughts and how they can ruin your game

So the ANTs will inherit the Earth (if you let them). OK so for a change I’m failing to be witty in my title. No wait, I’m never witty. I’m never humorous. I am the least funny sport psychology consultant aka Certified Mental Trainer® on Earth. Why would I ever attempt humor to get a point across? Even my kids think I lack a complete sense of humor. I might just be the most serious unfunny person on the planet, maybe the Universe.  ANTs will inherit the Earth

Perhaps this would be a good place to take a breath. A few deep breaths as a matter of fact from below the diaphragm before I am so self-conscious I throw this post in the recycle bin and click the Empty Recycle Bin button.  If I do that, I give up an opportunity perhaps to reach someone who overwhelmed by ANT’s, will miss out on tremendous opportunities. OK I’ll take a chance and keep the title, after all some people do laugh at some of my stories when I am speaking. I’ve had more clients laugh than cry in my office (though there is a certain sport that is more tearful I have found). Even on occasion one or more of my sons have had milk come out their nose because of something I said was funny. Maybe this means I may not claim Mr. Unfunny Person in the Universe Award.

This is an example (totally made up of course) of a CBT- cognitive behavioral technique designed to help someone deal with an ANT. An ANT is an Automatic Negative Thought. We have them all of the time. The most ridiculous things pop into our heads and most of the time we accept them as truths, because there is no one to dispute them. They come from somewhere in our unconscious perhaps. Triggered by some association or another and we buy in. We believe in the thought. After all it’s our own thought. How can it be wrong?  Even if it makes us sad, mad, nervous or leaving us with a feeling that things are out of control. Hell, most of the time we don’t even recognize we really had that thought (this is the subject of a different post, but a real good reason to Journal). According to some of the research I’ve read we have more than 60,000 thoughts per day. We really can’t pay all that much attention to every one now can we? Yet we react to them just the same. We form a map if you will of what we can and cannot do. If you are an athlete why would you want an ANT telling you what you can or cannot carry out. Back in my youth I would never learned to dunk a basketball if I bought into ANTs, as back then I didn’t know a lot of six-foot seventeen year old’s from my neighborhood that could.  We tell ourselves all sorts of things that we need to fix.

The Fix

Write down your ANT (Automatic Negative Thought). This is harder than you think because first you need to recognize your feelings. So, if you are sad, mad, nervous or feel like things are out of control, stop a moment and identify what you are thinking. I’d like you to write or type out what you are thinking and feeling. This in itself is very effective as you are clarifying your thoughts and emotions. A good deal of the time you are projecting outcomes based on these thoughts. Some call this Fortune Telling. If I do this, then this will happen to me in the near future. If I write a funny tittle to my post and no one finds it funny, they will not call me for an appointment. If I play the golf course aggressively I will bogey the par 5 and loose the tournament. Or then there is Mind Reading. If I tell a funny story someone in the audience will think I’m stupid for trying to be funny and again not hire me. In this case I am projecting what someone might be thinking.

Ant on GolferA golf example of this is where one of my golfers three putted on a green from 12 feet because two college coaches were watching. She thought, if I miss this putt they will think I am terrible and not be interested in me.  That was just last week. Yesterday she shot a 70 in her first round, 2 under par. This was her first sub-par round ever. Even with coaches watching. Get rid of ANTs and positive things may happen.

One of the things that happens to us when we are either fortune-telling or mind reading is that we are not in the NOW. We are in the future and we cannot play effectively out of the present. The other thing is that our game or what we want to do is affected by those negative thoughts and emotions to the point where some people just give up.

The next step is to dispute those thoughts. Think of yourself as a teenager (many of you might still be). If you are like me on rare occasions (OK not so rare) I talked back to them when they said something I didn’t like. My boys of course never talk back to me.  (Another attempt at humor) Use that same tone of voice, if you will and dispute what the ANT is telling you. Break it down and show yourself the lie, the un-truths.  You have a 12 foot putt for birdie. The coaches just saw me hit a great shot. I can roll this putt in. When we conquer the ANTs, we allow ourselves to not only be present, but we can perform at much higher levels in sport and everything else with positive focus. This plays a major role in our confidence levels, focus and how we deal with stress. 

I guess I will keep the tittle as is. Because I know I have produced magic from time to time and milk has mysteriously shot out of all of my sons’ noses one time or another. So perhaps while I may not be Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy or even Lenny Bruce I can produce a smile once in a while. If that is the case, then my original statement to myself cannot be true and if it is not all true and can’t be real.

Here are the steps: 

1- Take a deep breath

2- Write down your thoughts

3- Dispute them like you are a teenager

4- Get on with your game because you are free to be you

I guess I can keep the tittle, go for a small smile or laugh. I might even get that ANT off my own back and go out and play a good round of golf. Hold on. Let’s not get delusional here. If you would like to join me on the golf course or in my office please drop in at The Mental Game.