The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
goalWA.net is happy to continue our focus on topics of interest to players, coaches, parents and fans. We’ve featured stories on the physical aspects of Soccer Health. Now we are going to look past those brave diving headers and concentrate on the noggins of athletes. What makes a winner? How is what you think actually what you DO? Mike Margolies introduces himself below and gives us a taste of what he’ll be writing about for goalWA.net. We encourage you to watch for more from Mike, and to share with anyone who you think will find his ideas of interest.
The Mental Game is for Everyone
by Mike Margolies
I want to introduce myself, though many in the soccer community here in Washington know me. My name is Mike Margolies and basically I help people in sports and business, Not Choke. Yes, I am a Sport Psychology Consultant and Certified Mental Trainer®. I have lived and worked in Washington State since we entered the new Century. I’ve been helping athletes with their mental game and on the side their soccer skills for over three decades. I’ve helped athletes move from College to Pro and from elite to the Olympics in too many sports to ramble on about.
So how is it you are reading about me here? I have been asked to write the occasional article for goalWA.net about mental training and sports psychology. I will try to make them interesting for you. I want you to really understand that every athlete should be doing some kind of mental training. After all, you wouldn’t take off months from your physical training, so why would you leave out the most important part?
I comment about teams or when asked, players. You will find that it is better to do so by drawing attention to an overall issue and then looking at how someone might get past that concern. Saying someone choked, when you are not walking in their shoes, does no one any good.
I hope you will find my narratives enlightening and perhaps mildly entertaining. I neither write nor talk like the University Faculty and Researcher I once was. For the most part I tell stories. Some of them will make you scratch your head as they have nothing to do with an athlete or team…might even be about frogs. But you will, I trust, find the point.
I am also going to throw in from time to time, what I call on my radio podcast a “Mental Minute.” These are very quick exercises you can use to improve your mental game. Speaking of The Mental Game, that is where you can find me. My company website is www.TheMental-Game.com. I do in fact work with athletes, teams and business groups, helping them improve performance.
The Old Man Story and the Choices We Make
I’ve noticed a number of negative articles related to poor choices players have made in the news as of late. This is of course nothing new and since I’ve been helping athletes for three decades you might say I’ve seen quite a bit of it. I thought I would post a story I’ve been telling for perhaps years. Most every athlete I’ve either worked with on their mental game or coached on the soccer field has heard this. It’s in my book The Athlete within You, but I think it bears repeating. So if you will indulge me, this is the story I’ll just call “THE OLD MAN”.
I want to tell you a story. It took place a long time ago in a very small village. There was a young man who was a punk (not in the music way, or I’ll get in trouble with my sons), if we can call him that; I suppose smart-ass is how he would be referred to now. And he had a young friend and he started to talk. “There is an old man in the village who is never ever wrong. He’s a wise old guy and he’s never been wrong in his entire life and we are going to get one over on him.” And then the young man reached into a bush and pulled out a little bird. “I’m going to ask the old man if the bird in my hand is alive or dead. If the old man says the bird is dead, I will open my hand and the bird will fly away. I will be able to say that the old man was wrong. If on the other hand, the old man says that the bird is alive, I will crush the bird in my hand. I’ll open my hand and prove to him that he was wrong for the first time in his life. In this way I will show him he can be wrong and he’s not perfect.”
So along comes the old man, and the young brash kids approach him. The boy says, “Hey old man, I have a question for you.” The old man looks at him with a sad smile on his face and he says, “Yes my son, what can I do for you?” The brash young man says “I have here in my hand a bird; you must tell me if it is alive or dead.” The brash young man has a big smile on his face because in his heart of hearts he knows he’s gotten one over on the old man. The old man looks again at him with sad smile. “My son,” the old man says, “the answer lies in your hands.” It’s not just that the wise old man knows that the choice is in this young man’s hands. The choice, of course, is in all of our hands. When we make a decision, when we take an action, in anything we do, we have a choice.
The Old Man Story continues
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 40 years ago. 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 out loud. It wasn’t my story and I doubt it was Coach Kelley’s, but I was happy to continue his tradition. Recently I was struck by something that I didn’t see coming. My story may have come back to me.
I was working with a Jr. A Hockey Team in Cheyenne Wyoming. I had not talked to the GM about the banner in the locker room. He put it up a year before my visit and he used it very movingly on the last day of training camp to inspire his team to make great choices. But what if, just what if The Old Man Story stuck in the unconscious of a very young graduate student (the GM actually) who took a sport psychology class at the University of Wyoming over a quarter century ago? (The banner read in part, “It’s all in our hands, boys!”)
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 and that’s what day dreams are for.
I tell everyone. 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.
So please come follow me here and learn about The Game within the Game. Send me your questions and I will try and answer them as best I can.
Be Well… I’m Out..
You can contact Mike at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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