As a youngster growing up in the UK with parents involved in the pub game (public house) across London, my childhood was a healthy mixture of vivid experiences, and none more influential than the many different and diverse sports consumed as our national pastime.
Football, rugby, darts and snooker were a staple of our weekend discussion and this has remained a major part of my sporting passion into my adult and professional life too.
Today snooker and darts are as influential, professional and big business sports as Rugby and football. Jostling for TV and sponsorship rights with the big boys, their stars are as big as the football players who once donned the sporting royalty crown.
Some time ago I was watching the former world snooker champion, Ronnie (Rocket) O’Sullivan, giving a press interview after a particularly poor championship performance. He was talking retirement from competitive snooker due to a long and painful run of poor performances culminating in his possible relegation from the top world players.
He was clearly frustrated and despondent and didn’t know where to turn – that much was obvious – and so retiring was his only ‘real’ option (in his mind). All these negative emotions were clouding his ‘natural’ skills and his successful behavioural patterns. The more he played the more the weight of losing was playing on his mind and throwing up obstacles.
As I watched this painful and dejected interview I could see where his performance patterns had let him down, the self-initiated habitual behaviours that were working against him rather than for him; his mindset that was a hurdle growing in intimidation by the minute, reinforcing his negative views on his ability to play snooker and the sport itself.
Even through all this negativity and frustration, I could see a way out for him, a way back to the top – a revamp of the champ! It wouldn’t be easy but was doable.
So I actively set about letting Ronnie O’Sullivan know I had his solution. I could get him back winning and all it would take was some serious hard graft…
…and some time with me inside his head.
Simple as that!
I tracked down his manager, a process more troublesome than it first appeared. Undeterred by the many dead ends and unanswered messages I eventually found the agent and his business address. So I sent him a detailed letter, explaining who I am, what I do and how I can rescue Ronnie Rocket O’Sullivan’s snooker career.
“It’s what I do,” I told him, “I rescue careers.”
So I sat back and waited, waiting for the knock on my door, the inevitable call to rescue Ronnie O’Sullivan’s career.
…Maybe even a book or film deal at the end when he comes back to win the world championships once again, against all odds! I could picture it, it was there ready to be played out in front of millions of fans and the Rocket was the right athlete to do it…
As the weeks went by the silence was deafening. No knock at the door, no acknowledgment of my master plan, not even a sniff of a book deal.
So, the manager clearly couldn’t see the value in working with Ronnie’s mental state, in building emotional stability and productive cognitive skill-sets. Clearly he wasn’t going to see the wood for the trees and my efforts were waisted on his narrow views. But I shouldn’t be surprised as that is how ‘most’ people see sport, as just talent not humans.
I will go directly to the source! Ronnie himself, I thought.
But finding the agent was tough enough, getting access to arguably the most successful snooker player in the world of professional snooker wasn’t going to be easy. Where does a man turn when his back against the wall, when a potential clients career is teetering on the edge of a career chasm, when every turn is a dead-end?
He turns to his Mum of course.
As a former hard-nosed publican she knew how to extract information, she had her highly tuned ear to the ground and her fingers on the pulse of who lived where and with who. She staked out leads, hanging out in snooker halls, bars and outside gated mansions, dodging police, media and looking for someone carrying a long thin cue case with a bad attitude.
For weeks I worked on my plan for Ronnie here in Australia as mum worked the haunts. It paid off, she got me Ronnie O’Sullivan’s postal address. She came through and not one (proven) stalking charge to her name.
It was on, time to send my detailed plan, the solution, the method in which to get Ronnie the Rocket back to the top of his sporting career. Now again it was time to sit and wait, to wait for the knock on the door, the ring of the phone that all important email.
This week it happened.
Ronnie O’Sullivan lifted the trophy on the world title once again, the fairytale had come true, he had beaten all the odds and turned around the mindset to play like the true champion he is.
The once lost, down-and-out champion was back at the top and humbly thanking his Mind Coach, the man (he says) showed him the way back.
The plan had clearly worked, the shift in mental, emotional and cognitive structuring had managed to turn the spiraling out of control athlete around. Pointing him back to the top position in world snooker.
And yes finally it was a Mind Coach that had been recognised as the pivotal piece! I can see the book deals, the movie rights, George Clooney playing the Mind Coach, the clients knocking down the door wanting that same ‘edge’.
Unfortunately for me (this time), I was not the professional Mind Coach the Rocket selected for his triumphant return. But what I am ecstatic about is finally a true champion has acknowledged the importance of mental training, and in turn given permission to other athletes – junior and senior – to look outside the traditional approach, to see an alternative path other than to just put up with it or retire.
Mind Coaching is gaining more and more traction in the preparation and sustainability of elite and professional sport.
And so for that I thank you Ronnie and Dr Steven Peters who was that Mind Coach.
What are you prepared to build into your development to ensure you not only reach the top, but stay at the top?
Tags: bbcsnooker, Dr Steven Peters, mind coach, mind coaching, Ronnie O'Sullivan Coach, Ronnie O'Sullivan Trainer, Ronnie O'Sullivan's Coach, Ronnie O'Sullivan's Trainer, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ronnie the Rocket, snooker