Posts Tagged ‘Dave Diggle’

The Evolution of the Smart Mind: New Year’s Message

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Happy New Year!

January is a great time to review your objectives for the next 12 months.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in sport for a living. We have access to so much information, support and technology, so I enjoy spending this time of year taking advantage of all the tools and techniques available to me to get clear on next season’s game plan.

Here is a quick 4 minute video I recorded to give you an overview of 2013, to help you get the most out of your mental game.

Unable to watch the video? Here is the transcript below:

Our objective here at the Smart Mind Institute is to give you, as an athlete, an opportunity to perform smarter by better understanding youtself and the way that you think and perform.

The Smart Mind Institute was created for athletes and coaches to learn the cognitive development and mental aspect of performance. The programmes are designed to help you get the most out of your mental game; teaching athletes how to manage emotions more effectively enables them to perform without anxiety.

Our athletes have achieved higher than ever before, they’ve had a greater season than ever before, and not only is that down to their hard work and their tenacity, we believe it’s also down to the way they’re learning and applying the Smart Mind Institute way. The way that we approach our coaching, the way that we approach our athletes, and the way we approach the whole sporting organisation as a whole, has got us great results.

So in 2012 we took this to a whole new level with two new initiatives, the first being our live training programmes.

Our Smart Coach | Smart Athlete two-day programme is an introductory look into the world of mental training, understanding behaviour and understanding performance as an individual.

Our four and six-day Smart Coach programme is designed specifically for coaches, to learn how to get more out of themselves, and also their coaching staff, their athletes and support crew. Face-to-face programmes are also a great opportunity for brain storming with the diverse number of athletes, coaches and sports all in one room.

The other initiative  introduced in 2012 was Brain in the Game Podcast. This was an opportunity to share our philosophies; to share our beliefs around coaching; to give you an opportunity to download and listen to some of the key things that will help you perform smarter. Brain in the Game has been a massive success, bigger than we ever anticipated, with over 60 countries and thousands of people downloading our podcasts.

So what does 2013 have in store for us as an organisation and you?

2013 is set to be a really busy year. One of the things that we’ve set ourselves to do this year is give you more access to our face-to-face training programmes. So, in the course of 2013 not only are we going to travel around Australia, which is our home base, going to all major cities, we’re also going to go into New Zealand, to the US and the UK. So we’re going to take our Smart Coach | Smart Athlete and Smart Coach programmes to you. We’re also going to look at increasing our podcast range by increasing the amount of people we do interviews with. We know what we do works. We know that the programmes are having phenomenal results. So the next step is to get into the hearts and souls and the minds of people who are succeeding to find out what they’re doing, to behaviourally profile these people and work out what is it about their sport that they’ve got a handle on that maybe others haven’t got; look at the mental aspect and the behavioural aspect of why they’re successful.

So if you want to get involved in what we do, if you want to come along to our live training, listen to our podcasts or give us feedback, there’s a number of ways you can do that.

  1. You can go to our main coaching website which is
  2. Or you can go along to our training website, this is where you’ll find all the upcoming trainings – the Smart Coach | Smart Athlete and Smart Coach programme at
  3. Or you can download the podcasts and learn and apply these skills in your own sporting organisation, by going to or you can go to iTunes and subscribe there.

So in 2013 we would love to see you in a training; to see you integrate the programmes into your training, into your competition preparation. We have a number of elite sports currently working the Smart Mind Institute way and getting phenomenal results. If you’re not doing the same, you’re missing out on a massive part of your preparation and your performance.

The Athlete Mindset: Reactionary Versus Responsive Behaviour

Friday, May 18th, 2012

If you are chasing after another athlete you will always be behind them – waiting for them to make the next move. It is better to lead yourself than follow another.

Athletes base much of their outcome strategy on being able to intuitively produce the right action at the right time.

This forms part of their belief systems, instinctive direction and ultimately the sustained success of their performance.

When working with professional athletes, it is important that their internal drive and external performance needs are personally tailored to them.

However this very specific objective sometimes leads to some confusion for athletes and coaches around being either reactionary or being responsive!

These two actions may sound very similar in nature – but they have two very different drivers and consequences.

If we look at the specific behaviour of the ‘reactionary’ athlete, they are reacting to any and all situations:

  • a perceived external force on them, such as their environment;
  • the venue conditions;
  • the pressure; and probably more importantly
  • the other competitors actions

These athletes let their performances be directed, dictated and controlled by interpretation of their current situation – assessing – reacting – reassessing.

This mindset places the athlete in a constant observational role, not an action role. These athlete are then in damage control mode or constantly playing catch up as they wait for something to happen or someone to act before they can assess and react.

They have essentially surrendered their control over their performance to an external force limiting their options to counter actions.

When a Mind Coach builds an athlete’s optimal performance strategy, it is tailored specifically to that athlete and their skill-set and objective. It is not based on another athletes agenda or objective.

So by being a reactionary athlete and deviating from the designed path in order to react to another’s actions, an athlete is detracting from their own optimal performance strategy and objective.

I often tell athletes, ‘If you are chasing after another athlete then you will always be behind them – waiting for them to make the next move – it is better to lead yourself than follow another.’

The reactionary approach essentially ties the athlete into following their competitors path not their own.

If we now look at the specific behaviour of the ‘responsive’ athlete, these athletes have both their physical and psychological performances primed and ready to strike in a specific way, thus making them responsive to their own needs. This also allows them to make informed performance decisions based on their ability and their objective.

These athletes posses behavioural flexibility and can manoeuvre their performance within their optimal strategy based on their outcomes and situational needs. This gives the athlete the freedom and control to perform towards their objective and not be looking, judging and reacting to what others are or are not doing and using that as their gauge.

This single-minded focus gives our athletes clarity, objectivity, control and an optimally designed path to follow. This lowers performance anxiety and any second-guessing to what is coming next and also allows athletes to select the path that is right for them.

So the next time someone advises you they want you to have better reactions – tell them you would rather be responsive and compete on your own terms not those of your competitors!

There will always be environmental conditions or personal conditions outside the athletes control, so it is important an athlete remains open minded, cognisant of their ability and primed – responsive and ready to tap into their resources when called on.

Mental Coaching Handbook: Magic Wand Not Included

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012


I am often asked what it is I do for a living (sometimes even by those closest to me…). My answer is always the same – I take an athlete and I make a champion!

Although this response does little to clear up the confusion my family has about what I do for a job, achieving this outcome specifically is done through working both with and on an athlete.

Working with an athlete comprises working on their mental structuring, emotional stability and natural cognitive patterning to produce a sustainable, replicable and smarter performing champion.

However –

There is no Magic Wand included

No one hit wonder…

No silver bullet…

No one technique where we mystically hypnotise, covertly re-pattern and take away the self doubt in an afternoon that will see them through to the rest of their lives…

Absolutely no picket fences and fluffy dogs!

We do utilise all those techniques – and more – and this takes dedication, time and commitment!

The same way an athlete knows they have to continually hone their performance skills, practice their training techniques and systematically nurture their physical body – the mental process is the same. In fact, if unattended, it can be less forgiving than the physical programme!

If an athlete neglects their mental and emotional development, it can have devastating consequences and have an immediate impact on both their performance and confidence!

Individual perspective and behaviour have been forged over their entire lives and it is these unique views on reality about what they can and cannot achieve that dictates the effectiveness of their behavior, and therefore, level of their success!

The mechanics of our reality is quite simple:

  1. We experience an event, physical or imagined
  2. We assess that event and create our own personal interpretation
  3. We create an internal representation, an understanding
  4. We apply a personal meaning to that and similar events
  5. It becomes a distinguishing emotion

This essentially categorises that event as ‘something’ and assigns a perceived value.

Our individual perspective on the world is built upon these personal experiences from the copious amounts of data we come into contact with, then translated and used as puzzle pieces.

The good, the bad and the ugly in our lives, are decided upon by us, whether we consciously mean to or not.

For an athlete to truly produce their preferred performance, we must first understand and master the mind’s Information Filtration Systems, deciphering the picture it has painted, what emotional tagging system is adopted and what information is allowed in and what information is kept out – and why!

As we now understand, the pivotal influence over our performance is our mind. So athletes and coaches who wait until the train has crashed before they engage in effective mental training are going to be left behind.

There is no instant fix – when coaches see athletes almost magically transform under another coaches tutelage – this coach is fully engaged in mental training. It is the most effective way of producing a bigger, brighter and more productive attitude and belief in their athlete.

There is no doubt that physical talent is paramount and will probably get you so far towards your dreams, goals and aspirations but it is your mental agility and mental toughness that will make you a champion!


Image Credit: Flickr pillwoodlouse

Mental Strategies to Coach Sporting Professionals into Sporting Champions

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

The Secret of Success is Achieving More With the Mind.

I was recently asked to visit a newly constructed sporting facility as it proudly opened its doors to the sporting elite. It was billed as the best of it’s kind and I was exceptionally excited to see it in action.

I arrived and met with the other invitees, the press, the sponsors and us technicals. When we saw the building for the first time it was indeed impressive. Even from the outside it looked ultra modern and eerily menacing.

As we walked through the front doors we were greeted by a pristine, clean and busy hub. A state-of-the-art strength and conditioning gym; a lecture theater that would rival most major universities; a rehabilitation clinic many hospitals would sell a patient or two for (or at least their spare parts); a nutritionally managed canteen; a wade pool heated to optimise recovery; and lastly, a team meeting room that would make Google HQ jealous.

However, as we were lead around and proudly shown just what it was capable of, I was struck by just what it wasn’t doing. The more that opened and shut the more it was apparent to me it had been created looking from one aspect only. It was only catering to one discipline of the athlete’s preparation and competitive sustainability – there were gaping holes (in my opinion) in the thought process behind creating this athlete haven.

The physical aspect was truly outstanding, it came with everything: bells, whistles and even the kitchen sink. But so much more mental stimulation could have been built in to enhance and support the physical focus, to craft a more rounded environment for these sporting gladiators to prepare.

At the end of the tour I was asked my thoughts on the facility, and of course I willingly gave them. The centre truly was outstanding – however I do remember saying it was like entering into a 100m race with Usain Bolt having only one shoe on!

I am not too sure if they took my thoughts on board or not, it will be interesting to see!

When you look around at your own training environment, are you taking full advantage of what it has to offer, or is the vital ‘mental game’ missing.

I suggest conducting a walk-through of your facility with fresh eyes, even if you walk through it every day. Look at it with a different perspective. Does your centre:

–       cater to your athlete’s physical and mental needs

–       stimulate practical problem solving

–       condition left and right hemispheres independently and collectively

–       utilise peripheral learning, and

–       create an environment that motivates

The rapid expansion in our understanding of the brain and its capabilities through neural science has uncovered some of its amazing complexities and the more we understand the more we can utilise its natural powers. One such way is through our visual stimulants, those subconscious and peripheral learnings that sneak into our unconscious minds constantly. We know we only acknowledge a small amount of what our eyes can see yet our minds take so much more in.

Here are a couple of the ‘missing’ pieces from my tour:

In the reception there was no behavioural stimulation, no motivational triggers like posters of past champions, current champions, relevant video or stimulating audio. The clinical environment did nothing to lower anxiety or create a sense of calmness or belonging.

The Strength and Conditioning gym had no mental development exercises at all, no hemisphere stimulation games, coordination skill development, spacial awareness or cognitive patterning exercises or even strategic problem solving. When mixing physical and cognitive stimulation a greater degree of development can be obtained in both physical and mental areas.

Our right eye feeds into our left hemisphere of our brain and our left eye feeds into our right hemisphere of our brain so by placing stimulating imagery along the left hand side of a wall (just above eye level) will feed directly into our right spatially aware and ‘global’ side of the brain, whilst placing motivational phrases, or systematic strategies along the right hand side will feed directly into our left, more language and pattern oriented, hemisphere. These will be absorbed and categorised without us having to consciously process them.

This subtle layering has proven to covertly improve the cognitive stimulation and learning process. This strategy could be employed in the lecture theater, the team meeting room, the reception and even the canteen.

The rehabilitation centre was amazing, however little was geared towards the major role neural science plays in rehabilitation both physically and emotionally. I recently worked with a chiropractor who is taking this connection to a whole new level. Our mind controls our actions and so by stimulating the right neural receptors we in turn stimulate the correct body part.

One other area where I feel a great deal of emotional and communicative management benefit occurs is during peer interaction. Creating an open communication environment where team captains, managers and coaches are all on an equal standing with athletes, including juniors, allows different perspectives to add depth to the process. It also engages more productive and targeted communication.

Due to tradition this last aspect is often frowned upon by older players and avoided by organisations as they can feel threatened by the younger players. When handled correctly however it can add multiple dimensions to their influence and produce more targeted outcomes.

So take a look at what you have created and ask yourself, ‘Have I built-in the mental game here?’