by Paul Miller (Performance Coach, NLP master practitioner)

“Everybody is looking for instant success, but it doesn’t work that way. You build a successful life one day at a time.” — Lou Holtz 

What would happen if you could find the key to unlock the peak performance of your teams ?………..As we gear up for the winter season, thoughts for most progressive coaches naturally are on what can be improved to move players to the next level of competition (or even to compete effectively at their current level!!).

It’s always curious how there is an air of optimism at most clubs at this time of year but as the months go by this often fades away due to a combination of many things, not least having a genuine plan and steely determination to succeed. 

If you could wave a magic wand and all your players were truly committed to becoming the best they could be, what would you see? What would you hear? And how would you feel? What difference would that make to your aspirations?

Just imagine if each year you continued to build  a programme where everyone was committed to one vision and that commitment was demonstrated through genuine desire, determination and discipline at every level in your club….what would it be like to live in that world?

What are the key aspects to building players and teams being able to compete at the limit of their abilities?  I guess they must be in good physical shape; they must be capable of learning the required skills, drills and team plays…but what about nutrition and “mental fitness”?  We all know that these aspects play a part in the sportsperson becoming the best they can be, but do we know enough to make it tell out on the court?

If you could learn about the key aspects that would DEFINITELY improve performance, would you be interested? If so what you read in the next few minutes will transform your season….. 

A player who knows little or nothing about nutrition will find it increasingly difficult to focus during their training sessions and will be incapable of giving as much as they could during tough games because their bodies will not have sufficient fuel. It’s much like having a quality car but putting sub-standard fuel and oils in it……….. it may work for a while, but it will slow down much sooner than it should. 

….. and given that mental strength is so important, I find it incredible that so many athletes pay little or no attention to it as they train. If you are one of those coaches who spend all your training time on technique and fitness while paying no attention to the mental side, you are doing yourself and your athletes a serious dis-service. We know from countless studies that mental skills are acquirable and you can, with practice, learn to perform mentally. You can improve your confidence, concentration, motivation and anxiety levels if you chose to. 

Unfortunately, the working of our brains and what it takes to fuel our bodies effectively remain a mystery to most of us, but fortunately there are examples, all around us, of athletes who have mastered these elements to reach the pinnacle of their sport. The best athletes appear to do things naturally, people like Michael Jordan, Nadal, Bolt, Holmes, Woods, even young Tom Daly….there are many things these athletes have in common…but mostly it is that they have a strategy for their success and they work it….WHEREVER and WHENEVER they can. 

There is a way to access the strategies of athletes like these…. A world that will change the way you think about developing your athletes. Welcome to the world of Neuro Linguistic Programming, …. imagine if your players were able to go out and just play, they were able to keep their minds still and they were in the holy grail of sporting concentration…”the zone”…the place where they just know everything they do is right. They play and everything flows. They don’t have to try, there’s no effort. If only it could be like this every time.

An army instructor put it this way when he spoke of mental training for his athletes: “It’s a part of their leadership development, because this is no different really than the ability of a leader to think, problem-solve, react, eliminate distractions in combat.” He added, “The ability to maintain focus, to maintain a calm state, and to make critical decisions is paramount to our profession”.

In almost every situation of equal or nearly equal ability and preparation the more successful player is usually the one who maintains the most consistently positive attitude and pattern of thought. Athletes can and should learn to shape their attitude and thought pattern into one of predominantly positive and confident thinking. Many proven mechanisms exist that can help players and coaches effectively develop, sustain and enhance a consistent and unshakable winning attitude

Whether you are a 10-year-old athlete or a seasoned professional athlete, your biggest stumbling blocks are almost always mental. The exciting thing is that the mental skills necessary to overcome these problems and become a champion are easy to understand. But you have to know how to practice them. This is what is known as ‘mental practice.’ NLP teaches us how.

Some of you may be asking what is Neuro Linguistic Programming?

“discovering how I do what I do so I can learn to do it better and with more purpose”

NLP helps us to achieve all these things and more. It is frequently described as the “study of the structure of excellence”. The originators of NLP developed the skill of modelling so that excellence of outstanding individuals could be transferred effectively and gracefully to others in any field of human performance.

It is made up of three words that explain what it does:

Neuro……  how we think: Our Neurology

Linguistic…..  words and how we say them: our language

Programming…..  how we act to achieve our results; our goals

NLP is a means to an end….no matter what it is we are looking to achieve. Whatever skills we have, NLP can help us make more of them.

Reasons for the effectiveness of NLP

  • it enables more effective relationships between people because it offers a structure for the detailed skills of communication that are usually outside our awareness.
  • It assumes that effective communicators achieve their results through being responsive to the needs of others, and through an awareness of the effects their actions and behaviours will have on other people.
  • It facilitates resourcefulness through the promotion of greater choice in thought and behaviour. A fundamental assumption of NLP is that everyone has a different perception of reality and that we each need to develop greater flexibility to better understand other people’s perceptions.
  • A central premise of NLP is that the potential for success lies within each person. Success comes from within, not from an external agent.
  • NLP promotes performance enhancement because it models thoughts, beliefs and behaviours of the best performers in a wide variety of contexts.

There are some people that appear ‘naturally gifted’. But everyone has some talent and we do not know how far the limits of that talent extends….with the help of NLP we can go on a search ..who knows where we will end up…….

In the mind of a champion CD resourceIf you don’t have the time to learn about NLP and the benefits it will surely bring you and your team, you can now gain access to the seven key NLP mental processes that many successful sportspeople naturally use, through my CD “Inside the mind of a champion” (

Michael Ball, England U18 Women’s Basketball Coach ,  says”

“I can highly recommend Paul’s CD to any sports-person who seriously wants to find a practical, proven methodology to improving their performance. It gives the athletes the ability to help them find out what they want to achieve, gives them the tools to control their thoughts and opens up the door to the realisation that they can realise their ambition – whatever that might be. How many of us spend all our practice time on developing our players physical, technical and tactical capacities whilst we spend so little time on the single most important influencing factor that champions and successful people in all walks in life share – their mental strength and pursuit of excellence no matter what the circumstances.” 

Remember the old adage “if you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got”. It’s time to do something different….


Posted on 28/10/2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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