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Mike Margolies
Sports Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer®, Author, Speaker
Issaquah, Washington

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What the Final 4 has Do with your Success

Sport Psychology is about helping people take control of their performance in sport. It is all the clinches you hear. Mental toughness, focus, managing stress. We can use mental training to increase business performance too.
Written Apr 06, 2011, read 2041 times since then.
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This is constant:  The Mental side of sports is always more important than the Physical.  Hall of Fame Baseball Player and Coach Yogi Berra is often misquoted with the line that 90 percent of sport in mental and the other fifty percent in physical.  The Berra-ism while humorous seems to make light of the importance of the psychological skills sets important to performance.

In today’s Wall Street Journal look what Bobby Knight is quoted as saying:

"I have always maintained that in basketball the importance of the mental to the physical is about four to one,"
  -- Bob Knight, most wining coach in Division I College basketball history
     "A Coach's Guide to the Final Four," Wall Street Journal, Saturday, April 2, 2011 

We are a couple of days away from the NCAA Men’s Basketball Finals.  Is Coach Knight calling attention to the obvious or is it perhaps that the key is always on guard play, experience, coaches, etc. and not on things like: which team handles stress best?  Which players have the psychological make-up to finish the game off?  Or even the elusive which team at this late date will reach their goals and stay focused to the very end?  This has been the case since my first involvement in sport psychology back in the mid 70’s.  In sports media and around the water cooler, we tend to direct our attention to those things that are most tangible, the things easiest to measure while watching competition.

So on this weekend of the NCAA Basketball finals why is that I am directing everyone to what Bob Knight has to say.  It is because we do the same thing in the business world.  We tend to emphasis many of the things that are most obvious, technology, money, stock prices, world news, and corporate infrastructure.  We Facebook about things, we tweet them, we make them the constants of our business lives and lose focus that business organizations like NCCA Basketball teams are made up of people with all kinds of skills.  We too will focus on similar aspects in business people as we do with players.  Instead of height, perhaps it is education, instead of speed, maybe it is how many hours they put in.  Regardless we don’t often focus on the human psychological traits needed to perform in the competition we call business. 

How people handle stress, how they stay focused on goals or imagine success can make all of the difference to your company.  Even more critical can be, just as in basketball, how they play together as a team.  All of these areas are attributes that are the focus in sports psychology.  They are important short and long term to how a company performs.  Most companies as is true with most NCAA Basketball teams do not pay enough attention to these very important mental skills.  I have seen many companies change their entire culture and increase their productivity and profitability with simple changes with regards to the importance of some of these mental skill functions. 

So are these human traits and skills important to your success?  I can guarantee you that if they are important in sports, they are doubly important to your business.  Athletic teams don’t focus enough energy on sport or performance psychology.  Sometimes because it is simply easier to recruit players that get “IT” better.  Their window of opportunity is limited.  If it is your company, perhaps it is time to invest in some mental skills training for your people.  Helping them become more productive in this economy can’t be a bad thing.  

Learn more about the author, Mike Margolies.

Comment on this article

  • SEO Press Release Publisher 
La Quinta, California 
Christine OKelly
    Posted by Christine OKelly, La Quinta, California | Apr 08, 2011

    LOVE the concept here Mike!! One of the books I'm currently reading is "The Winner's Manual," by Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. Like you say, so much of winning in sports is mental! I was drawn to this book and your article because I feel like there is a LOT to learn about winning and teamwork in business from those who have coached sports.

    Great to meet you Mike!

  • Writing & Publishing Coach, Business & Marketing Consultant 
Bellevue, Washington 
Deborah Drake
    Posted by Deborah Drake, Bellevue, Washington | Apr 08, 2011

    Mike,

    "How people handle stress, how they stay focused on goals or imagine success can make all of the difference to your company. "

    And this notion you put forth applies to the difference it makes to our individual professional and personal goals as well.

    The Inner Game must be won first to show up in the Outer World by my experience.

    Thanks for the article. Thank you sir may we have another?

    Deborah!

    Authentic Writing Provokes

  • Sports Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer®, Author, Speaker  
Issaquah, Washington 
Mike Margolies
    Posted by Mike Margolies, Issaquah, Washington | Apr 08, 2011

    I'll thank both of you now before basketball is just a distant memory (actually after the finals I want it to be). Now that the Master's is on I'll see of we can learn something from this great golf experience that has crushed more golfers than any other. Maybe there is a business lesson in Augusta, GA taking place right now.

  • Professional Voice Over Talent 
Smithtown, New York 
Susie Schwarz
    Posted by Susie Schwarz, Smithtown, New York | Apr 08, 2011

    Mike, great analogy and sooooo true! I completely agree with the mental side of making business work.

    Any mental workout suggestions? Yes, we are aware of how to manage stress, but what about exercises to keep the mental game in top shape?

    Eager for more, Susie Schwarz TalkonSusie Voice Overs

  • Sports Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer®, Author, Speaker  
Issaquah, Washington 
Mike Margolies
    Posted by Mike Margolies, Issaquah, Washington | Apr 14, 2011

    Susie, Add this to your goal setting exercises. After you have used what ever goal generating plan you choose like SMART goals, I would like you to answer this question. When you see yourself reaching that goal, "What will it taste like"? Or smell, feel, look? Tasting great is not the answer its a guess at best. Will you reward yourself with a special diner? Does it smell like grandmas cookies? Maybe it feels like perfect sand from a beach in Mexico. When we can associate a visceral feeling to our goals, you will begin to assimilate them into everything you do. We've spend generations telling people to write goals on paper, in their own hand, so they can see them all of the time. The next step to achieving your dreams and goals is belief in them. When we feel them, taste them, hear them or smell them they are real and you are on your path to success and finding The Athlete Within You.

  • Professional Voice Over Talent 
Smithtown, New York 
Susie Schwarz
    Posted by Susie Schwarz, Smithtown, New York | Apr 14, 2011

    I love that! The three dimensional exercise is right up my alley...especially the visual of the "perfect sand in Mexico." Thank you for the homework!

    Sincerely, Susie Schwarz TalkonSusie Voice Overs

  • Sports Psychology Consultant, Certified Mental Trainer®, Author, Speaker  
Issaquah, Washington 
Mike Margolies
    Posted by Mike Margolies, Issaquah, Washington | Apr 02, 2012

    I wrote this last year at this time. Rather than re-writing it I remind people that tonight is the finals in NCAA Basketball. Those with talent, and emotional control, those that use their mental skills the best will find ultimate success.

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