Back at the end of August I posted a story in this space called The Old Man Story, (click on link here). I had done so because I had read about some players poor choices. I wrote that I have told this story for years, perhaps more years than I would like to admit. I used it in my book, “The Athlete within You” as well. I first heard the story from my soccer coach what has to be over 35 years ago. Usually I would make a joke here and say that I was maybe five when I heard it first, but that is just for fun. (I was 6). Anyway I have told this story to almost every athlete I have ever trained. I’ve told it to a lot of audiences and to the classes I’ve taught. I’m probably responsible for 5000+ people hearing this tale. It wasn’t my story and I doubt it was Coach Kelley’s, but I was happy to continue his tradition. This weekend I was struck by something that I didn’t see coming. My story may have come back to me.
As anyone reading my posts knows I was working with the Cheyenne Stampede all last week. Yes I did tell them the story of the old man the first day. That’s not what has struck me silent. Take a look at this picture below.
OK it’s an old tale, I get that. I have not talked to GM Mark Lantz about the banner. He put it up and he used it very movingly on my last day of training camp to inspire his team to make great choices. I’m very sure that he has heard or read of something similar over the years. But what if, just what if The Old Man Story stuck in the unconscious of a very young graduate student who took a sport psychology class at the University of Wyoming over a quarter century ago.
What if our words could move someone to use the same line to inspire young people to greatness and perhaps had its roots back then. Can we inspire generations, will these players one day challenge another group of young people after I’m gone. Pretty heady stuff. It’s likely just one of my day dreams, of course that’s what day dreams are for.
I told the players I have one main purpose. To help them with their mental game so they will have the skills to reach for their dreams. Funny how it may have started before any of them were born. Just a thought.
This is a journal of a sport psychology consultant. A week with the Cheyenne Stampede working with them on the mental game. Pre season Mental training with them. I thought I would take a brief moment to talk about the process. It is a process I have used many times, but it is always different in the sense that flexibility is critical. I had worked out a rough schedule with the GM prior to my flying in. He and the head coach had worked it into a posted schedule on the website so the players were aware of what we were going to be doing. I flew into Denver and drove up to Cheyenne where I met the GM at the Holiday Inn (a team sponsor).
Working with the Cheyenne Stampede, Jr A Hockey Team
Our first session was at 5PM, but our first stop was practice. I met briefly with Coach Quarters as the players hit the ice. Right after practice we headed to Smart Sports which is where they do strength and conditioning. It’s a great facility with its own medical facility. I met the facility owner and head physician Dr. Skip Ross and the personal trainers and physical therapist. There were a few players getting PT while Ro the personal trainer was killing it with the team doing core and strength work.
Headed to the Arena for my first session with the team
Ceremonial Puck Drop prior to Stampede vs Weber State
Talked a little more with Coach Quarters about my plan and then met the team officially. I was introduced to the team by GM and owner Mark Lantz. GM & coach sat in on introductory session. This is important to establish that what we are doing is important to the team’s success. I’ve often been asked to work with teams and the team coaches and front office more or less go play golf. This hurts the programs credibility as players see it as there is no buy in from staff. (more…)
Getting out of our comfort zones. I’ve been seeing this graphic a lot lately. Photos of people jumping off cliffs, or bubble graphics showing where you are now and where you want to be and the only way to get there is to get out of your COMFORT ZONE.
COMFORT ZONES are a moving target or at least it should be. As you move yourself out of your COMFORT ZONE to become or realize your goals, you will start to get comfortable again. This requires the mentally strong person to continually push themselves into a new level of discomfort. Complacency leads athletes to mediocrity. This is especially true in training camp. You have survived the first few weeks. If you didn’t force yourself out of your COMFORT ZONES certainly your coaches did. Now that you have gotten used to the ebb and flow of practice things are easier and for many this is a time to relax a bit and focus on what you are good at doing. But great athletes never allow themselves to get sucked into the malaise of the COMFORT ZONE. Great athletes are vigilant in their pursuit to continually push themselves out of the COMFORT ZONE to find THE ZONE. THE ZONE is where an athlete plays their best. It is often called PEAK PERFORMANCE and should be every athlete’s ultimate destination. Notice I said destination and not goal. THE ZONE is not something you can set goals for directly, it is the path you travel that gets you there and to get to THE ZONE, you have to pass through your COMFORT ZONES.
One way out of the comfort zone is to …
Now it is easy for people (sometimes coaches) to tell players this is an easy thing to do. It is for some of course, but certainly not for everyone. Having worked with thousands of athletes over the last 30+ years at some very high levels I can tell you at some point the COMFORT ZONES suck most everyone in. You can get out of the COMFORT ZONE in many ways. One exercise I like to use with athletes is using an imagery technique. It is a switch technique. Imagine you are practicing or playing in the COMFORT ZONE. Things are going well for you, but others are working just a little harder. They may be even making a few mistakes, but you are playing safely in the COMFORT ZONE. This seems OK, but you are starting to lose ground. As you imagine this scenario, notice where you see it. Out in front, to the side, below eye level or above. It doesn’t matter. Let’s put that aside for a moment. Now imagine a different scene. In this one you are pushing yourself out of your COMFORT ZONE. You are tired, you are trying new things, you are learning and getting better. Now notice where that image is located. Put them up on a huge flat screen TV in their respective places. Turn the COMFORT ZONE image black and white and make it smaller. Now take the out of the COMFORT ZONE image. Make it brighter and bigger. Count to three and switch their relative space on the TV. Fade the COMFORT ZONE completely into oblivion and say to yourself this is where I want to travel. Practice this and make what you see a reality by committing to this image and feeling every time you step out to practice and play. This is a great first step in helping yourself when you have trouble getting out of your COMFORT ZONE. The more we try to learn about ourselves, the more we can move down the path towards peak performance and finding THE ZONE.
I thought I would post one of my PowerPoint presentations on the game within the game. It is how I often introduce sport psychology and mental training to parent groups. It is performance oriented and takes a more research or academic based approach to mental training. Come view the slide show and see many of the topics covered in mental training and how it can be a benefit to athlete who decide to travel this road. Mental training is an important aspect of the athletic experience.
I’ve written about motivation before on this blog and it’s a major theme in “The Athlete within You”. Understanding what drives you is very important to your success. This came up the other day with one of my client / athletes. In going over her ESi (Emotional Intelligence Sports Inventory) we discussed her low Achievement Drive. A part of a measure of her internal motivation. The first question I generally ask of course is “WHY do you compete?” Usually I get a fairly trivial answer or one that doesn’t often ring true. With some exploration we generally start to see a better clearer picture of why someone competes and what their purpose is playing a sport. In my gymnast’s case, she thought she was competing to to get into the college of her choice. As we explored her “why” it became clear to her that her real motive was to be part of something special at college. I could see a change in her behavior and her emotions as she understood her “why”. Understanding her why gave her the conviction to commit to part of her routine at State and Regional’s that had recently caused her to fear her dismount in one of the events. Understanding her “Why” isn’t the only technique I taught her to use in overcoming her fear, but her understanding made it far easier for her to believe in herself and that she could place and move on to Regional’s and then National’s.
I got a message from her mother last night and then an email from her this morning that she finished in the top four in all round and took first in one event and will be headed to Nationals. I pretty good change for someone stuck three weeks ago fearing that her dream might be finished. I am really happy for her.
I’m not writing about her accomplishment because I need to brag about being good at what I do. After 30 years of working with athletes, her story is familiar and while I do myself feel great about helping her, (It is my Why after all), I wanted to write about her because she demonstrates so clearly by example what happens when you increase your self awareness and discover your “WHY”.
As I got ready to write this post, a Facebook “friend” posted a video on his drive for success and I want to share it with you here. It is a very short video. The athlete is Bryan Clay. Bryan is the reigning World and Olympic Gold medalist in Decathlon. I have a soft spot for decathletes as one of my first clients was one. So here is the short video.
This post was intended to be about self confidence, but I decided I needed to take a step back and rather than talk specifically about gaining confidence; a more general overview of Emotional Intelligence was in order. In this way it becomes easier to address many aspects of how the Game within the Game affects hockey performance.
Sports Psychology research has seen the increase in a concept named emotional intelligence. First utilized in the business world, Emotional Intelligence is finding its way into other areas of life such as sports. What is it, how can it help sports performance and how can we enhance our own emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is a relatively new construct that has emerged over the last ten years. Identified as ‘the capacity to recognize and utilize emotional states to change intentions and behaviors. Emotional intelligence can be measured through a series of statements about emotional states and the ways that a person deals with them.
Emotional Intelligence can be summed up as: (more…)
Mike Margolies: Sport Psychology Consultants ; TheMental-Game.com
Mike Margolies is a Sport Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer® (CMT), Author, and Professional Speaker. When you want to be the best that you can be and the one thing you might be missing is the right mental game - what can you do? Well, athletes from all over the country have been seeking out Mike Margolies for over three decades to help them reach their potential. His clients include professional, elite, colligate and youth athletes in every sport. They have sought his counsel and unique teaching style to learn about the game within the game, or what mental training can do to help them become the athlete they want to be. He has trained professional and elite athletes and helped guide many to world championships and even the Super Bowl. Mike has trained more than 2000+ athletes. He has taught at four Universities and completed research at the United States Olympic Training Center. His new book is called The Athlete within You- A Mental Approach to Sports and Business. He currently works with individual athletes, teams and businesses around the world, both in person and via SKYPE. Mike is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Let him encourage you to play the game within the game. The Athlete within You is waiting to come out play. Learn the rules to the mental game to help realize your potential.