Mind Over Sports

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A number of years ago I made a startling discovery: When athletes have a high sense of inner-self and their lives are in harmony, they are able to use visualization techniques effectively. They will not only perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis, but will also create positive events in their lives, on and off the field of competition. But when their lives are in disharmony, visualization and other mental techniques become ineffective. If they are experiencing personal problems and have unresolved issues hovering above them like a dark cloud, those problems and issues definitely affect their ability to perform in their sport.

I also found that the worst thing athletes can do to negatively affect their performance is to withhold their feelings and emotions. Withholding is a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their sense of inner-self, creating psychological baggage that affects their ability to focus and process information.

I was once playing in a handball tournament in Overland Park, Kansas. Just before I left for the courts my wife and I had a little disagreement about a subject but I didn’t think too much about it. When I arrived at the tournament, and after I was suited up and about to step onto the courts, something didn’t feel right. I excused myself and called my wife on the phone and told her how sorry I was about the tiff we had had and she told me she was so glad I called because she felt the same way. I told her when I returned home that evening we could talk about the issue and, together, figure out how to resolve it. She told again how happy she was that I had called.
I hung up the phone and, with the use of visualization, played some of the best handball of my life. But if I hadn’t made that phone call, I probably would have played some of the worst.

And by the way, one of the best visualization techniques involves the use of “Power Videos” which are personal highlight videos of yourself with a music soundtrack with meaningful lyrics. You watch your video over and over again and then just before you step onto the court you listen to just the soundtrack and if your life is in harmony, you will re-create the images from your video during competition.


In November, 1997, Tom Watson quit drinking and his wife, Linda, divorced him. Not long after, in 1998, Professional Golfer Denis Watson (of Zimbabwe) went through a divorce when his wife, Hilary, left him and their three infant children (Kyle, Paige and Ross) and shortly thereafter, in 1999, married Tom. She must have been madly in love with Tom to have abandoned her three small children and one would think that, right after Tom and Hilary were married, his golf game would have improved immensely. But it didn’t. It’s difficult to build any kind of relationship on other people’s unhappiness. Hilary’s feelings of guilt had to have a negative effect on Tom and his golf game.

Fast forward to 2009 when Hilary’s children are older and have joined Tom and her on their farm in Stilwell, Kansas, and Hilary was once again happy. Which, of course, positively affected Tom’s game. That same year, nearing his 60th birthday, Tom led the British Open much of the way before losing in a play-off. I don’t think it was a coincidence that when Hilary had her children back with her, Tom’s game improved.

The reason why KU should win the 2016 NCAA national championship is similar to what happened in 2008.  On Sunday Feb. 24th 2008 the team held a team meeting (players only) and did not lose a game for the rest of the season. (See below)  On January 22nd, 2016, Coach Self held a meeting with Ellis, Mason, Selden and Graham to help him determine who the fifth starter should be and they haven’t lost a game since.

Following is what I published on my blog back in 2008.

Those of you who are familiar with my training program know how important I believe it is for teams to have team meetings at least once a week (without coaches present.) This allows team members to speak frankly and clear the air and not withhold (or repress) their feelings.

When athletes repress or withhold their feelings it’s a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their self-esteem, creating psychological baggage and affects their ability to focus and process information. So when Head Coach Bill Self gave his blessing for the Kansas Jayhawks Basketball team to hold a players-only team meeting, Kansas City Star writer J. Brady McCollough wrote that some thought it might have been the chicken wings they ate at Henry Ts Bar & Grill that helped them make the final four, and to ultimately win the NCAA tournament. Here’s what McCullough wrote:
“Ryan Robertson had to laugh when he first heard that the Kansas Jayhawks turned their season around over chicken wings.

It wasn’t that the players chose to eat at Henry T’s Bar & Grill. Guys have been doing that for the last 15 years or so. It was more that, well, he hadn’t ever thought of having a players-only meeting in a public place before…Around 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, the entire KU team pushed open the doors of Henry T’s. Situated on the west side of town, the restaurant is far removed from the peering eyes of campus or Massachusetts Street, where the Jayhawks would undoubtedly be hounded if seen together as a team.
Less than a day had passed since they had lost their third game of the season in ugly fashion, 61-60 to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Kansas, once 20-0, was suddenly 24-3 and appeared to be playing its way out of the Big 12 regular-season title race and a high NCAA Tournament seed.

According to KU guard Sherron Collins, the Jayhawks had some chemistry issues, and there were some things that needed to be said. ‘Everyone got their feelings out,’ Collins said, ‘and no feelings were hurt. Everyone understood it was for the good of the team. Once we got over that, people started listening to each other and didn’t take things the wrong way.’”
The Jayhawks, 35-3, hadn’t lost since. Eleven wins later, they played in their first Final Four game since 2003, and then went on to win the national championship. The owners of Henry T’s are giddy over the possibility of marketing their establishment as “the place where champions come to eat” or something like that.

When I read about Stuart Scott dying of cancer, after having been diagnosed in 2007, it reminded me of the “Surveillance Mechanism Theory” first discovered by the late Dr. Carl Simonton. Simply put, the Surveillance Mechanism Theory maintains that we all have cancer cells in our bodies and our immune systems are constantly gobbling them up Pack-Man style. But when we encounter stress in our lives, our bodies give off hormones that suppress our immune systems and the cancer cells begin to multiply at a rate faster than they can be devoured. And before long, we are diagnosed with cancer. And one of the most conspicuous characteristics of cancer patients is they all have bottled-up emotions at the time of diagnosis. Without knowing anything about Stuart Scott’s personal life, it’s possible that back in 2007 he had some kind of stressful event happen in his life that triggered his first bout with the illness. Over the years I’ve worked with cancer patients and would be happy to send free information to anyone reading this. Just contact me at marv@mindoversports.com — But keep in mind, the program I recommend is strictly supplemental and is not to replace any treatment you might be receiving from a physician

Before Sunday’s NFL game, five St. Louis Rams stood with their hands raised in a show of solidarity with Ferguson protesters. But…THE REAL PROBLEM IN AMERICA IS NOT YOUNG BLACK MEN BEING ARRESTED BY THE POLICE BUT RATHER THE MILLIONS OF YOUNG BLACK CHILDREN WHO ARE LIVING IN POVERTY.

The Rams players and the folks in Ferguson and other areas of the country have been demonstrating about the estimated 37,000 young black men being arrested annually in America by the police and they should be demonstrating about the 5,000,000 black children who are living in poverty in America. NOW THAT IS CRIMINAL!

These are children who receive little education during their early developing years. And according to Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed:

“A lot of what we think we know about the effect of poverty on a child’s development is just plain wrong. It’s certainly indisputable that growing up in poverty is really hard on children. But the conventional wisdom is that the big problem for low-income kids is that they don’t get enough cognitive stimulation early on. In fact, what seems to have more of an effect is the chaotic environments that many low-income kids grow up in and the often stressful relationships they have with the adults around them. That makes a huge difference in how children’s brains develop, and scientists are now able to trace a direct route from those early negative experiences to later problems in school, health, and behavior…The problem is that science isn’t yet reflected in the way we run our schools and operate our social safety net. And that’s a big part of why so many low-income kids don’t do well in school. We now know better than ever what kind of help they need to succeed in school. But very few schools are equipped to deliver that help.”

For the past 20 years I’ve been working on launching a new program that will educate young pre-school children living in poverty and relocate them and their families, on a voluntary basis, onto kibbutzim (plural for “kibbutz”) throughout America. It’s called “Kibbutzim Across America” and anyone who contacts me at marv@mindoversports.com will receive a free e-mailed copy of a news article that explains what a kibbutz is and how the program will work.

The following recently appeared on the Internet: “It’s a breakout season, yet it still feels like the 28-year-old has another gear we haven’t quite seen yet. Still, it’s fun to watch a player grow up and begin playing near his potential on the field. It’s also cool to watch them grow up and become men off the field. In that vein, Cain and wife Jenny recently welcomed a baby boy, Cameron Cain, to the world.”

As I’ve always maintained, when athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony their performance level will rise dramatically. And Kansas City Royals’ Lorenzo Cain is a perfect example. When Lorenzo’s new son recently arrived on the scene, his performance level began to skyrocket. The Kansas City Star quoted one of his teammates: “And now he’s a new dad, so he’s got more of a purpose now. That’s what kids do to you, they just drive you up to become a better man.”

Should a coach demand perfection or excellence? Let’s take a look at what happens when you as a coach (or a parent) demand perfection versus demanding excellence, not only from other people, but from your self as well. When we demand perfection, everything has to be right. Otherwise we experience anxiety, the anxiety turns to anger and, to make sure everything is just right, we exercise control. It’s a must. Then, judgments are made, and you begin taking from a relationship – and there is no journey, only the destination. On the other hand, when you demand excellence, you are willing to be wrong – and you are automatically willing to risk. You become more spontaneous – there’s more “aliveness,” more passion, and instead of judgments, you’re more open. And you are giving to a relationship. There’s a journey – relating to each other – and a destination.

When you demand excellence of yourself or another, you provide yourself or the other person with the opportunity to “fail” – and to learn. This process, which requires changing your demands, will help enhance your feelings of self-worth. And as you feel better about yourself, you’ll begin to set higher goals for yourself and actually achieve them.


N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

Learn how to visualize, resulting in increased performance.

PHONE: 417-773-2695

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