Posts Tagged ‘Behaviour’

Sports Commentary: Is The Past Really In The Past?

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Does the past always influence the future based on fact, or is it all psychology?

When economists forecast the rise and fall of financial trends or when political commentators predict the swings in government – and get it right – are they just clever predictions based on past events and cold statistics, or is there more to it? Could they be psychologically influencing our decisions and future choices unwittingly with the words they use?

If we take the same parallel with sport, sporting commentators speculate on the outcome of a game based on past results of the player or team.

Again is this just the sum total of interesting statistics, relevant information and probable mathematics, or does their suggestibility hold a more subconscious influence over the players and impact on the potential outcome of the game.

In the same way people are influenced into believing and blindly following social, economic, health and even fashion trends, covert use of targeted language can also heavily influence our athletes into following performance trends.

This could result in either psychologically winning or losing a competition before they ever step onto the pitch – all based on the expert’s analysis.

Most sporting commentators are past or current players, coaches or influential people within their sporting community and often hold a great deal of respect from within that code.

So clearly their opinions and predictions matter to those who they are commentating on!

If the commentators believe a particular team is certain to lose and they publically verbalise these beliefs, boosting their point of view with statistics, history and plays as proof then the self-belief of the players on the potentially losing team will diminish – thus becoming a self fulfilling prophecy instigated from the commentary box.

Humans are socially and psychologically pack animals, guided by the community, socially driven to assimilate and conditioned to believe and follow our leaders – especially those we emotionally adorn. So it stands to reason when a well respected social influencer tells you you’re destined to lose, the doubt enters your mind and becomes a focus point now giving you the option to lose – as it is expected.

The same outcome is achieved when statistics are highlighted as a probable outcome of the future such as ‘the last time these teams met they lost by 100 points’ or ‘this team have never won at this venue before!’ All these factors and the social expectation weigh heavily on their minds and performance.

So has our thirst for up to the minute knowledge, opinions and statistics and the medias willingness to supply that information begun to influence how an athlete physically and mentally performs? Athletes will tell you ‘No!’ They will say the media plays little part in their preparation or performance – they say this because they are told to say it not necessarily because they believe it.

So as a coach or commentator we have a duty and responsibility to understand that what we say could have an impact on the outcome and psychology of an athlete.


Monday, April 18th, 2011

I was reminded this week – (by the continual avoidance of a client), that a huge part of anyone’s success in whatever area they choose is their attention to details, their ability to identify and build a plan or strategy and their level of COMMITMENT!

As a mind coach who specifically chooses to work with elite athletes, who by nature are normally very dedicated and committed beings, it becomes painfully obvious when they are not demonstrating these vital characteristics – not only in their lackluster demeanor but in their performance results.

And no matter how hard I work, how diligent I am when building their programme or even how ‘nagging’ I can be when they are dragging the chain – ultimately the bottom line is their level of success is a direct reflection of their commitment to the plan and to the end objective.


“A total commitment is paramount to reaching the ultimate in performance.”

~ Tom Flores (one of the only two people in Professional Football history to win a Super Bowl as a player, as an Assistant Coach and as a Head Coach)


Do you have a plan? And how committed are you to it’s success?

Australian Ironman champion talks about his Mind Coaching

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

Dave Diggle Mind Coach – Mark Simpson Ironman

Competition Day: Success When It Counts

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

How many of us who have competed at a high level of sport have suffered with the jitters, or succumbed to the pressure of competition and not performed as well as we know we can at one time or another?

How did you react to this? Did you brush it off with a blasé comment such as “I just didn’t feel right today”, or maybe “the venue isn’t up to what I am used to” or some other excuse. For some of us this is an all too familiar problem. Sometimes, we are never able to “be alright on the night” and for all intent and purposes many promising competitive careers are destroyed by this and it happens from within our own mind.

So why do some athletes show phenomenal talent in the training hall but crumble when it comes to competition day?

It’s a common scenario in elite sport, and a scenario that is played out in every sporting discipline on every continent. Is it the pressure? Is it the venue? Or is it something more sinister?

I used to train and compete with a guy who was probably one of the greatest Gymnastic talents I had seen come out of the UK. He was everything a Gymnast should be – he was physically ideal, as though he was a kit gymnast built with a specific purpose in mind. An athlete that had been made to measure and assembled like a high performance sports car – with nothing to spare. He certainly had the dedication, talent and fantastic family support.

I used to watch him as he would pick up new moves easily, remember set routines without a second glance and had the arrogance to intimidate.

He was a couple of years older than me and the time had come where I was due to compete against him. I woke the morning of the competition feeling nervous, reflective and rather overwhelmed – I knew he was better than I and he was favourite to win.

As we warmed up prior to the competition I could see him hitting his routines with fighter pilot accuracy, as he had done all season in the gym – yet I noticed something new, something in his face. He appeared uncomfortable, agitated and almost worried. I wondered why? He certainly was a class above the rest of us and he knew it.

And so he took to the floor to perform his first routine, he was fidgety and he wasn’t acting in his usual confident – arrogant – strutting way. I could feel that air of arrogance was completely gone, on his opening line he fell! I had seen him perform that line hundreds of times without a second thought and never had he fallen! His routine was second rate and when all was said and done and after all six apparatus he finished 11th place.

We competed over many years after that day. He continued to be the champion of the training hall and never won a competition, falling in to the category of an under achiever and fading into the background never to be seen again.

So what can we surmise from this? Is it that physical ability or even talent isn’t what wins competitions or defines a true champion? It has to be something more. Sure, you have to be able to compete in the competition in order to be competitive, but it would appear the edge is your mental strength not the physical – that is the defining aspect!

So what defines the Olympic swimming legend Ian Thorp as a champion?  His physical technique has been studied, scrutinised and copied by many swimmers around the world. His physical strength has been surpassed by others yet he continues to get better and better results. So you have to ask yourself – why?

I believe it is his personal ability to not succumb to the pressure. Whether he is competing in a local swim meet or the Olympic Games, the same swimmer enters the pool time after time after time and produces the same consistent results! We have all heard Ian talking about competing against himself and himself alone and that’s what matters to him, mentally eliminating his competitors before he enters the pool.

Going back to the Gymnast. He had trained himself to succeed in the training hall but he would perform differently at competition, drawing on different learnt behaviour and a different set of neurological points of reference. He would spend 50 hours a week honing his approach to the routine and on competition day would not apply the same thought process – so essentially he was competing without preparing. He left his best performance in the training hall, never achieving anything near his potential.

When I was competing, I was always told to train as though it is a competition, I never knew why at the time and to be honest I don’t think my coach did either. I now know there is a sound scientific philosophy behind that throwaway statement.

Every action we perform creates an imprint in the brain, this becomes our neurological point of reference for the next time we perform that action! So when you go to cross the road you will look left and then right as taught from a very young age What starts as a conscious action becomes an unconscious action, or more commonly known as our behaviour.

So if you moved to a country where the traffic travelled in a different direction? You would need to retrain your behaviour, creating new neurological points of reference to look Right then Left. Obviously this can be done – it just needs some conscious thought processes for a period of time before again it becomes an unconscious action, or a new behaviour.

So if you train a bad habit, it then becomes your point of neurological reference and your behaviour! Our cerebellum doesn’t differentiate or even assess, it just does what is asked of it and that replicate.

Using the same philosophy, what if you train for perfection in the training hall but when you come to compete you draw on a different neurological point of reference? You may spend hours saying to yourself “What if I fall?” or “Don’t fall!” So when you start to compete you are concentrating on falling and what the consequences of that action would be!

Inevitably you will fall because your mind is dealing with that action. This fall becomes your competition neurological point of reference. You may have noticed either yourself, or other competitors consistently stumble or fall at the same point of a routine or the same stage of a race or they may not make the crucial pass time after time. The England Football squad (soccer) have an issue with penalty shootouts often crumbling at this crucial time.

So it wouldn’t matter how many hours had been spent practicing and to what standard – you would only ever perform at your competition blueprint – your neurological point of reference for that action / situation unless you retrained this behaviour.

So how do we change these negative neurological behavioural trends?

Well the easiest way is to first understand what makes a successful pattern and then replicate your successful behavioural pattern in the training hall and put it in the competition venue by training how you wish to compete. Train as though it’s a competition, giving your mind less available options when it is under duress or looking for answers.

When devising training programs, incorporate a formal competitive module in every training session. Increase the number of these modules as you build towards the competition date. Teach the brain to look for successful options and to refine its search to what you have trained

If, however you have had ineffective behaviour for a period of time, it may be necessary to scramble the old neurological imprint. This will render it useless as a point of reference, making your mind look for a more suitable reference point.

For this a behavioural coach would be required.

This is a psychological pattern reimprint, just replacing the old negative point of reference (action) with a more desirable one. If we can do this for you think of the possibilities open to you and your performance.

Your first step is to assess your performance and ascertain if in-deed you need to improve? Where you want to be and what you want from your sporting career.

Then when you have a clear idea of your direction then let us help put you onto that path.