Dear Friends:

I have moved this site mikemargolies.wordpress.com to it’s own domain.

Please follow me at The Athlete within You.com

I moved the site a while ago so there is a lot of content.  Please join me there.

My other sites are MikeMargolies.com if you are interested in having me speak to your Association, Business or Team.

My Sport Psychology site for Athletes and Coaches is TheMentalGame.com

If the subscription is not working please email me.

Mike Margolies

Author of The Athlete within You- a mental approach  to sports and business

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It is said that desperation is the mother of invention.  I am not desperate, but I am tired of telling families I’m sorry I can’t work with your child because you can not afford to pay me.  It sucks.  A friend and associate of mine asked me how I could work with kids for free, when he knew I had a business to build.  I told him it was because I felt like these kids needed my help and that I could make an impact in their lives.  His answer was, if I didn’t stay in business who then would I impact.  He is right of course and perhaps as a successful business man and former great professional athlete I should pay attention to not only his words, but his intention.  The only thing I can say is “James I just can’t” .

So this is where I have landed.  I have toyed with the idea for some time to build some sort of center or foundation to teach young athletes about mental training.  The only drawback is that I have no idea how to go about doing this and still build my business.  I just know that I have to be able to teach athletes about how to deal with competitive stress, how to concentrate, what it means to be mentally tough.  Some would say that it’s not very important.  I would counter with all the athletes I’ve seen that succeeded in school.  I’m not talking about the ones that have gone on to play in college, I’m talking about the ones that stayed in school because of sports and went on to have productive lives because they learned how to use their minds in a positive way. 

I want to change lives one athlete or team at a time.  I want to reach more kids in Washington that want to play on teams or compete individually.  Sports have become very expensive and outside training to stay competitive has become the norm.  Speed training, strength training, core training, specialized coaching all needs money.  Sport Psychology or mental skills training is always it seems thought of last on the list.  I’ve tried to change that perception for 30 plus years, one athlete at a time.  I may not change that general perception anytime soon, but I think we can change the availability part NOW.

The Northwest Foundation for Sport Psychology and Training will provide both mental and physical training and education for those that can not afford it otherwise.  Working in conjunction with physical trainers I propose to be able to offer athletes, at least in group surrounding, access to all kinds of sport training. 

I can’t do this alone.  I can find the needed partners to help provide training.  I need some business partners that have my same vision of providing kids in the Northwest with this kind of training.  The Foundation needs commercial sponsors to help fund the program.  If you know of anyone that would be interested in helping and investing in athletes and their futures.  I’m reaching out to all of my friends and associates worldwide to help me get this project accomplished.  So all my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Univera friends, if you can help me either yourself or through someone you know,  you know where to find me.

A quick tale to try to tie together what you have already seen.  Back in the beginning, when I started working with Marv Clein as his assistant and graduate student I was introduced to a few athletes that were working with him at the time.  One was a local high school track athlete and the other to my surprise was a professional tennis player.  It started the conversation between us about what it is I wanted to do with my life.  I  told him I wanted to be a soccer or football coach.  I had told him that there had to be a better way to train athletes.  He asked me what I meant.  I said that I had learned about relaxation and imagery techniques and I thought something like hypnosis held potential.  I hadn’t really know much about these things.  I had learned about relaxation in a motor learning class and had explored the possibilities.  I’ll tell that story next time as I like it very much.  He said he couldn’t help with the hypnosis (Marv did not elaborate, he never did when he didn’t want to), but he would let me watch him with an athlete with something he termed systematic desensitization process.  Today of course I would argue that he was using a multiple form of guided imagery, hypnosis, SDP, CBT, NLP.  I’m good with that, as Marv taught me to be very eclectic in my understanding of Sport Psychology.  Find what will help an athlete and do that NOW.  While we were never in a hurry, there was always a sense of urgency for the life of an athlete with regard to their athletic career is a short time line.

The next day after classes, Marv said let’s go for a ride and tossed me the keys to his Fiat Spider convertible.  South he said.  I was like a week in Denver, but I knew south.  We headed to Colorado Springs to work with a figure skater.  Marv had worked with several Olympic skaters in the past and this young woman had been one of them.  We met with her and her choreographer and discussed training, coaching and figure skating politics.  Marv was at home with everyone I saw him with and I knew I should be emulating him.  The technique he used with her was Progressive Muscle Relaxation and as he said, SDP.  It was really more of a coping rehearsal.  He would have her visualize her performance to music and recover from faults.  He spent perhaps 30 minutes with her and then the three of us discussed what she saw, felt and thought.  It was really fascinating, but what I found equal to that was the way Marv worked me into the conversation.  The skater, I don’t believe thought, I was some rookie out of California, but a trusted associate of Clein. 

This experience taught me two things that have stayed with me all this time.  Give help to those that seek you out and include them in the process.  Mentoring might be one of the most rewarding ways of giving to even more athletes than just the ones you have time to work with during your time.  It has to be what great coaches feel when their assistants go off to coach their own teams.  I know this because while we were talking together, I caught a rare smile from Marv and at that point I think I knew the man who thought he wanted to be a great professional coach just changed professions.

I started to continue the last post on my origins working with athletes on the Game within the Game when I caught my self staring at my walls.  On either side of my computer screen are pictures of sorts of two of my role models.  I realize that this in and of itself is no big deal, but it did get me thinking about origins and imagination as it relates to sports and sport psychology.  On my right is a baseball card of Sandy Koufax.  He was my childhood idol.  When I was 9 I recall being mad at my parents for allowing me to be right-handed.  There are lots of reason of course for my reverence for Koufax.  He was the best of that era and he was Jewish.  This of course pleased my otherwise anti sport mother.  I have a funny story about Mr Koufax and not me, but my mother.  My mother came home one day from work.  She was secretary to the president of a large discount retail store in California called White Front.  She said she met this very nice Jewish boy at the store and he gave her this toy to give to me.  Now I was about ten at the time and was thinking I had outgrown toys.  It was a Sandy Koufax Pitching Game.  You threw styrofoam balls at these plastic points on a sort of dartboard.  On the box it was signed to Mike from Sandy Koufax.  I was speechless.  My mother said he had told her to bring me over, but she didn’t think it was a big deal.  I didn’t talk to her for a week.  I did however believe in my heart every time I picked up a baseball that I was Sandy.  It was my summer of baseball and it couldn’t have been better as not only did the Dodgers with the World Series, but I pitched in almost every game.  In my mind’s eye I was Koufax and pitched like him that whole year.  There was nothing I wanted more than to play professional baseball. 

On the left of my computer is a picture of Albert Einstein.  My parents seemed to insist that I spend my time doing more than playing baseball and other sports.  I got really intrigued with him through one of my Jr High teachers.  Not because he knew that I was Jewish, but because he said he liked the way I thought about things so I should understand Einstein.  Had no idea what the teacher meant, but I did what I was told.  I was intrigued with him to be sure though I was still more interested in being an athlete rather than a scientist of any sort.  What I did recognize is that Einstein was into thought problems.  He explored the Universe with his mind.  It wasn’t E=MC2 that caught my attention, but the quote “Imagination is more important than knowledge”.  It is that quote that is up on my wall.

My third role model was Wilt Chamberlain.  OK, forget about the number 3000 for a minute. As a basketball player (I gave up baseball soon after Koufax retired), I wanted to be Wilt.  I saw him as cool.  He was big and bad.  He was tough on the court, yet smart enough to stay out of foul trouble.  He could score at will and I wanted to be like him.  So how did it turn out?  I could dunk (not bad for a 6 foot Jewish kid).  I could defend big tall players.  And I could do a finger roll.  I averaged 20 points a game my senior year.  There was one problem though.  I practiced being big, bad and to take people into the paint.  Couldn’t dribble to save my life which of course was a large problem as I went to take my game to the next level.

So there are three stories.  The very short end to this blog is simple.  When we were children we used our imaginations to do everything.  We used it to play as toddlers and as would be athletes.  Somewhere along the way our natural ability to use our imagination got taken away from many of us.  It is a key component to success in everything.  Sports and virtually everything else we do in life.  If I can leave every athlete I meet with something it would be to remember when you believed you were Koufax (insert current star here).  Play like you did then and see how fast your game accelerates.  We can contol our world very simply and play out of our minds.

Everything Needs a Beginning

Posted: January 4, 2011 in sport psychology

I’ve been working with athletes on the game within the game for almost 35 years.  I like to tell people that it means I started when I was 5.  It is obvious for anyone that has seen a recent picture of me that this statement is clearly a bald-faced lie.  OK I’ll admit to 13 then.  If there is a point to this Margolies get on with it would you. 

I left the friendly confines of Humboldt State University with degree in hand to pursue my Masters Degree in Sport Science under the supervision of one Marvin Clein.  I had been given an assistantship solely based on my ability to teach foil fencing.  This of course was a complete or almost complete fabrication.  I had taken one-quarter of fencing in college.  The first thing my French trained instructor had said in class was that in France we wouldn’t touch a foil for 2 years.  I’d had 3 months and was prepared to teach the course in college.  This of course is the confidence of a 21-year-old soccer playing, PE major.  

I graduated in June, drove to Colorado to be a Park Ranger (this will be another chapter some day) and found my way to the ivy brick buildings of the University of Denver, 2 days before my program and teaching fencing began.  I was directed into the department chairs office.  He didn’t get up.  He was on the phone.  He said (it seemed to me curtly), I’m on the phone, talk to Bruce.  Here I had driven all this way and he was on the phone.  At least I thought I had 10 minutes left before he started in on me on fencing. 

While lost in this thought I heard a voice.  Bruce was communicating with me and I was not very attentive.  I apologized and paid attention.  Bruce was an older man (keep in mind I was 21).  He had white hair and a friendly smile.  He asked how my trip had been and what I wanted to do with my life. 

I told him I wanted to coach because almost every coach I’d ever had was not great and had gotten it all wrong.  This included my soccer coach who I admired a great deal.  He had failed in my year with him to turn me into a NASL player, so how good could he have been after all.  My football coach at Los Angeles State University didn’t think I was worthy of starting as a freshman (it’s a secrete, but the guy ahead of me was drafted into the NFL).  My High School coaches were more concerned with the length of my hair…  OH well these are talks for another time.  Let’s just say that I wanted to coach athletes and knew there was a better way and I wanted to find it. 

I had been rambling for a minute or two when I noticed Bruce was smiling.  I assumed that he thought I was just another idiot college kid.  I said we hadn’t been really introduced.  He said his name was Bruce Olgilvie and he was a good friend of Marv’s.  We talked for another half hour before Marv found his way off the phone.  I had realized that I did know Bruce.  I had read about him in text books and in Sports Illustrated.  He was like the modern father of Sports Psychology.  He and some guy named Tutko at San Jose State worked together.  I was pretty much in aw, but Bruce drew me out.  We talked about athletes he had worked with and the Olympics.  It was very cool. 

While we had been chatting away like a couple of teenagers, he noticed first, that now Marv was smiling.  I figured that grumpy Marv was about to give me something to think about, like which direction to take back to California.  Instead he said to Bruce it was time for lunch.  He got up and walked to the door with his old friend leaving me standing (I had gotten up not knowing what to do).  When he got to the door he barked “Margolies, your driving and flipped me the keys”.  It was an odd way to start on this 35 year journey working with athletes.

Hello world!

Posted: December 28, 2010 in sport psychology

I suppose a welcome of some sort is traditional in this space.  It has taken me a good deal of time to start a blog.  No known reason other than my own self made barriers.  You see it is very easy and natural for me to help others.  I do it virtually everyday of my life.  It seems to me that in some small way blogging is about self promotion and that my friends is something I am not very adept at doing.  This will surprise many people who have known me for years and find my confidence to be distracting.  I assure you my friends that the confidence is directed at helping others and not myself.

So this space will be used to talk about all things related to helping athletes and anyone else that cares to listen in.  I hope to do it regularly as I have finally been convinced that the only way to help others is to promote myself.  In fact I got hit by this revolutionary thunderbolt this afternoon when helping a friend get off his ass in order that he promote him self and the things he has to offer the world.  It did strike me as hypocritical that I wouldn’t do the same for myself. 

So here I go.  If you will start by reading my profile you will learn a bit about who I am and a little about the work I have done.  Be so good as to check in at my website (a work in progress).  It will soon be WordPress as well.  Friend me on Facebook, Follow me on Twitter and I will of course return the favor.  After we have all become friends over the next few weeks I will start telling you about the work I do hopefully in entertaining stories.  Rather than lecture about topics in sport psychology, I thought I would tell you about athletes (not necessarily by name) that I have spent time with helping them pursue their goals.  Most of them are very different and each has a story to tell.  My hope is that by hearing their stories I can convey to you where sport psychology and mental training fit into this pursuit of athletic achievement.  Keep in mind it is not always about Gold Medals and reward, it is more often about finding what is hiding.  So that is the journey.  It would be a great pleasure for me, if you enjoyed the ride as we look for “The Athlete Within You”.

Mike