In Episode 19, Brad Miller, Founder of Soccer Resilience, Clinical Psychologist, and former Wake Forest soccer player, talks with Phil about the four pillars of soccer resilience, how we can address anxiety and depression in sports, resetting and...
In Episode 19, Brad Miller, Founder of Soccer Resilience, Clinical Psychologist, and former Wake Forest soccer player, talks with Phil about the four pillars of soccer resilience, how we can address anxiety and depression in sports, resetting and retraining our brains, fixed vs. growth mindsets, and whether we actually do play like we practice. Specifically, Brad discusses:
Resources and Links from this Episode
Phil: [00:00:00] Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thanks a lot again for your download. Very much. Appreciate it. Again, I'm Phil Darke. I am your host of this show and I'm very, very appreciative of you taking the time to be a part of the conversation that we are having and this conversation keeps getting better and better.
As far as I'm concerned, each episode. So today we actually have with us, Dr. Brad Miller, he's one of the founders of Soccer Resilience, and we're going to be talking about some really cool stuff going on the sports psychology. side of things and the mindsets and, and just different things that we can do to, really make our game better on from the mental side of the game.
But before we get there, I want to just remind you to join our Facebook group. If you haven't done so already. Obviously on Facebook, but it's a group that we go a little bit deeper into the conversations and something that we can't really go deeper to the conversations without more of you there to go deeper with.
So if you can go ahead and do that very much, appreciate that, and would love to deepen the conversation with you. Also let us know there [00:01:00] or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any guests that you think would be good to have on this show. We, really do take those recommendations seriously and.
Very much appreciate again, you just engaging in that way as well. So without more from me right now, I just want to introduce you guys to Dr. Brad Miller. Brad, how are you doing?
Brad: [00:01:22] I'm doing really well. How about you Phil?
Phil: [00:01:24] Doing great today, and even better because we're having this conversation. This part of the game is something that I think is it's more, I think it's less than less neglected than it used to be, but I think it's still a neglected part of the game that we don't, take as seriously as we need to the mental side of the game.
some books over the last few decades, like Inner Game of Tennis, not a soccer book at all, has been one that a lot of people have gone to that has really brought light to this. And some other things we're going to talk about today, but before we get into kind of the nitty gritty of the conversation, love for you to just share your story, just briefly share it.
You know, how you developed your passion for soccer, leadership, sports psychology, and how you got to where you are [00:02:00] today.
Brad: [00:02:01] Yeah. thank you again for having me on you know, for me soccer, like I think most of your listeners it was a joy of mine. I played a lot of different sports, but soccer was always the one that drove me.
You know, two at each time. And I was just kind of big defender in the back. I loved just playing pickup soccer with friends. I'd always intentionally go, I'll take the team that's less likely to win. And I'm just going to sit in the back and shut people down. And I loved it. I loved to compete and that's how soccer was for the youth.
It was kind of my therapy to get away from just the different stressors, challenges of life. And I was fortunate enough, my senior got recruited to go play at Wake Forest. And at the time Wake Forest was just becoming a top 20 program. You know, now it's one of the top programs in the country consistently.
And so it's a really exciting time. And my high school coach had known the assistant coach, Jay Vidovich while chisel, which legendary coach was my head coach. And so I joined the team and when I got there as a freshmen, I knew I had a lot of work to do Phil that we had about 26 people on the roster.
That's probably about 25th or 26 in technical skills. It really [00:03:00] was a big struggle for me. I'd spent most of my life shying away from it. What happened is I went to ODP when I was about 10 or 11 and the first 45 minutes of an hour and a half, you know, Preliminary trial at first 45 minutes is all technical and I really struggled and I just felt embarrassed.
I was like, yeah, if you're just a big guy, he doesn't have to work with the ball. And so I just really believed that about myself and throughout playing I would just look to get rid of it as quick as I could, but when I got to Wake, they want more of that, right? If you can play in divisional and you have to actually hold the ball, possess the ball, go forward.
You, talk as a team. And so for me, that was where the anxiety started for the first time in my life. I had performance anxiety, and it just was something I'd never really experienced. It really had an impact on me. I was able to grind it out at Wake, you know, I persevered slowly climb the ladder made the top 18 of freshmen got more and more playing time as it went on my last year, I got Significant starts and that all felt great. I was really proud of just grinding it out, but what really, I developed a love, hate relationship with soccer and all of a sudden, just things like after a practice, if I got in the game, my [00:04:00] brain would just overly focus on what didn't go wrong, a small mistake here, and it would ignore the things that went well.
And I would obsess I'd come home from practice. Sometimes I'd tell her roommate and say, you know, Hey. Did you see me practice? Did you see that pass? You think coach saw it? If I did something well to coach see it, and if I made a mistake on my guide to coach too, and I got beat there, right. And I was always about, can I get more playing time, getting more playing time?
And When I graduated, I just had a passion for helping people, actually, how I got to be a psychologist, kind of funny story. A buddy of mine on the team. I was a business major, was looking to, come up with what am I going to do? And there's interviews with banks and accounting firms. I'm like, you know, it just doesn't feel like that's me.
And he's like, well, we all talk to you on the road trips. Anyway, why don't you be a psychologist? Oh, yeah. So I stayed next to a year ahead of your eligibility minored in psych. And then when I started doing psychology and after I got licensed and started working with athletes, I just had this passion to help players where their performance was getting hindered.
They just said they would work hard, but all this time and energy. And yet anxiety and [00:05:00] stress would come along and to Rob them of that, and they wouldn't perform the way they knew they could. And then it would create this kind of vicious negative loop for them. And so I learned strategies and we try them out.
Players would come back and go, yeah, you know what, Brad, I I'm noticing a difference. My competence is coming back. The confidence I have in pickup or practice is starting to show in games and now my performance is coming out and they're having more fun. Fun. And so I knew that this was something really important to me.
I really wanted to do, but I want to do it in a bigger scale. You know, when you see people individually, it's just hard to reach as many people. And so I had a thought of, maybe I could do this with a team and about three years ago one of my son's coaches, Rene Ortiz who actually is the Mexican indoor national team coach.
He played professional, had a really love for the mental side and said, we could really use some help with our kids and worked with him. He connected me to some other people. So did that for about three years here. And then during the pandemic, I started a zoom presentation and went, okay, I guess we can do this in other parts of the country, linked up with a nine-year pro Wells Thompson who actually went to Wake Forest as well.
Funny story. We grew up three miles apart. He's younger [00:06:00] than me. We never knew each other. And he just had a passion for working with players as well. So we linked up, so I working with some college teams, youth teams, and then Matt spear. Who's the division one head coach at Davidson for 18 years. We linked up with him and thenJessica McDonald World Cup player with the national team plays for the North Carolina Courage. And that's kinda how we all came together. And so that Soccer Resilience has just grown. We've all gone through hardships and struggles on the field, off the field, and we've been able to find resilience. And so we really have a passion to help kids to be able to grow and find that to a youth players college and pro.
Phil: [00:06:36] Yeah, it's something folks. You definitely want to check this out, which is the next thing I want you to tell us is how can people find you so that once they hear this, all this cool stuff we're going to talk about today, they can go even deeper with you and learn more from you and maybe get, engage your, services in some way.
Brad: [00:06:54] Yeah, a really great landing spot is our website, soccer, resilience. We have a lot of information there. A lot of [00:07:00] videos for parents, players, coaches lots of resources, links to other articles. We are constantly looking for videos and articles and as you know, there's been so many wonderful athletes coming out, sharing about their mental health struggles, things that they do to help them.
So we have a lot of links that access to those resources. And we work with a lot of club teams, college teams starting to do a protein. We even have a pro agency first wave sports international. We're really excited to work with their players. We're going to do some webinars. We're also going to do some one-on-one coaching with them.
So we'd love to, talk with anybody who's interested in learning more about how to be resilient, not only on the field, but off the field as well. We really want to see players. We do see players as people first and athletes second. So we're very focused on a well-rounded holistic approach to help them the athletes
Phil: [00:07:45] and that's soccerresilience.com.
Brad: [00:07:46] Soccerresilience.com find us on social media. If you're into YouTube videos, we have wonderful videos there as well, and they're soccer resilience YouTube channel.
Phil: [00:07:54] Great. Yeah. So we'll have all that in the show notes as well, but check that out after this. That's the beauty of it. [00:08:00] If we don't cover something in here and you're like, I wonder if they cover that too.
You can go check it out. We'll have that at the show notes too at howsoccerexplainsleadership.com. It'll be /bradmiller. Keep it simple for you. And so, with that, we know intuitively people, soccer resilience, sport psychology, mindset. What in the world are you even talking about? Right. So we know intuitively that we can't perform at our highest level.
If our minds really aren't in the right place, but many have no idea what it means to get their mind in the right place. Let alone how to get it there. So, can you just talk about that a bit? You know, what soccer resilience is actually doing to help soccer players? You talked a little bit about alluded to that in that last answer, but just helping players and teams across the country.
I know you guys have four pillars, but talk about that. And just generally, like what, what is this thing we're talking about and generally the, 30,000 foot view of how do we get there? Sure.
Brad: [00:08:49] So with I've been practicing, I've been a licensed clinical psychologist now for 20 years. So taking all that experience, taking just the research, the studies continuing to read and [00:09:00] grow, consulting with people sports psychologists outside of that and putting all that together.
What it really shows is that there are four. Fundamental things that we believe this is your roadmap to resilience that if you can do these four areas and have strength in these areas, you're going to be more resilient on the field and off the field. We call them our four pillars and you can go on the website.
So I won't go into too much detail, but the four pillars of the first one is taking control. Then it's developing purpose. It's building perseverance and we take all of those skills and then it's going to enhance your performance and really, how do we get our mind? Right. It's a great question. And that really comes from taking control.
Really what's in charge of everything is our brain and the brain is the control center. Right? If I make a great run, it's because of my brain. If I decide to yell at the referee or not for a poor call, It's in my brain, right? If I have a great first touch, it's my brain. So players will spend countless hours of all of this work.
They'll go to personal training sessions that coach them, say all these things. And yet, if your mind's not right, [00:10:00] then you'll get robbed of that. Right? Your performance diminishing as big moments. How do you have that poise? How are you in that moment? Can you execute the skills you've developed through the training and practice?
And so taking control is really about taking control of your mind, who are number one, psychological. The most important psychological need we have is to have a sense of control and not like over the world, but over ourselves, over our thoughts, our emotions, and how we're going to respond to the world around us.
And we really talk about some simple ways through that. We break it down into one. It's going to be focusing on your thoughts and your beliefs that we often think it's the situation that causes the stress. And it's really not the case. What it really is. It's our thoughts and beliefs about that.
Situation. We are constantly telling ourself a narrative of who we are, who other people are and what the world is and what the future holds. And so we have thoughts that can be very helpful, that can really take us up. And we have thoughts that can kind of take us down. I think I like, is it thoughts, like buttons on the elevator. They take you up or they take you down.
[00:11:00] And so we really dive into. What are the beliefs you have about yourself? Do you believe you kind of have it or you don't? Do you have more of a fixed mindset perspective where you think, well, I'm just not good at left back, so don't play me there. I can't play it top or I'm not good in Aero duels.
And so do you have more of that fixed mindset? It's absolutely gonna diminish your, motivation, your interest, your focus. And so we talk about having that growth mindset mentality that you can improve and grow to anything. If you have to. Two main things.
You have to have strategies and hard work. You put that together. So we talk a lot about your thoughts and identifying those negative thoughts. We have that hinder us that causes more stress. And how do we replace them with more helpful thoughts? The other part of that taking control is really our mind.
How do we get our mind to be alert? Focused and present in the moment that then controls our body to be in that optimal state, where we can perform at our best, whether that's on the soccer field, in the classroom, or just navigating the stress of life. And so a lot of things we go into is specific breathing techniques.
the wonderful thing about deep breathing is the quickest, most effective way to put the brake on the nervous system [00:12:00] and get ourselves back in the moment and calm ourselves, down where now the thinking brain is really running the show and not the emotional brain. That's that battle. We always have an emotional brain takes over feelings are facts.
It feels like my mistake was the worst thing ever. And if that's the case, my motivation dips. So how do we get our head? Right? We do breathing. So my mantra is kind of breathe first. And then try to figure it out. Problem solved. Second. So we talked about breathing. You can lend to a quick reset. Rose Lavelle says, you know what?
I do, sports psychologist told me that when I make a mistake, when I'm stressed, I breathe in, in count and I breathe out. And that's her quick five second reset. Right? So we all can do those things to reset. So now that we are able to take control of our thoughts and our body with our mind through debriefing, we do a lot of visualization guided imagery.
With specific situations that maybe players have more challenge with to help them feel they're ready for that. It creates more confidence because I won't dive deep into visualization, but your brain thinks you've actually done it. It's a beautiful part of the visualization, so it thinks you've done it.
So that's to get that extra practice and then [00:13:00] mindfulness, how do we incorporate mindfulness in? So a deep breathing, visualization, mindfulness, and really being aware of our thoughts and changing our thoughts were helpful. We now feel more in control. Now that that's the case. I want to make sure I know my purpose.
We dive into our why and some players still, they know it. They go, yep. This is why I play. This is what motivates me and that's great. Others go, I don't know. But when that purpose is deep and strong, we know it does two things. One, it helps us persevere longer push through those difficulties and setbacks because it tells us why we're doing it.
And to. When that goal involves other people. Now it has more of an impact on us. Right? So that's getting our mind, right? So for me, a big thing was I helped my team. I helped my team. I helped my team. I was very team-oriented. So when I wasn't feeling as motivated, when I was stressed, when I was frustrated, I was like, well, dude, your team needs you right now.
You know what I mean? That would kind of bring you back to that purpose can be really helpful to bring us back and get our mind, right. For those moments, the third pillar is going to be building perseverance and the truth is Phil, all people have perseverance and [00:14:00] all players have perseverance, especially the higher you go.
The more perseverance you've had. But what happens is there are still those times where people don't know how to persevere in certain moments. Their brains have been trained that this is kind of like not a good place for me. This is a hard spot for me. And they don't really know to persevere as well there.
So that's where we come in and say, okay, what are those strengths that you have? We love identifying your strengths. Okay. What are the areas? We have more struggle. How can we use those strengths to help you? And then where those areas, where you have a hard time persevering, and we give you specific skills and strategies to do your thoughts.
Through breathing, how to reset to help you overcome that because the brain has a negative bias. So the brains and that we're getting the brain a little bit. So I'll come back to that. But you know, the brain's got a negative bias and focus to kind of help us keep alive. So it just focuses on negative things.
We have to know strategies to overcome that. So now we've gotten our three pillars. Now we look at enhanced performance in it. And what does that mean? It means we take those things. Our mind and body are much more in that peak area of performance. And then we give them specific things to give them more alert.
You know, for a lot of [00:15:00] people it's having those pre-game rituals, right? Like how do I walk myself through and how does that in a mental way? Right? So a visualization, pregame ritual, having that way to reset yourself, having a way to anticipate some challenges you're going to have, but a plan to deal with it.
Most players don't have a plan for what to do and they make a mistake and when things go wrong and we give them that plan, that gives them a sense of control and that helps them really be able to maximize that performance.
Phil: [00:15:26] I love that. I mean, that was so much there. Folks, you might need to rewind that and listen to that a few times, because I think what I heard there, it was like a bunch of books that I've read a bunch of different interviews that we've talked about.
It there's different tools there to work on them. I think Switch on Your Brain and Mindset with Carol Dweck, which has been referred to many times over the last, several episodes we've had the idea of Start with Why that Simon Sinek made millions of dollars with that Ted talk in the book and to think about The failing forward and those ideas of the resilience and overcoming adversity.
And that's where you're going to develop perseverance. You've got to have the failures to be able to actually, all these [00:16:00] things are in that little, whatever it was eight minutes or that just of wisdom that was there. So absolutely love that. But now let's go a little bit. Deeper dive into some of these areas, especially things that are really unfortunately, more and more common today, and a couple of those things are depression and anxiety.
Right? You hear that more and more particularly in COVID, whether it's depression, that's being exacerbated, anxiety, panic attacks. You're hearing this more and more. I mean, when we were, when we were kids, when we were younger, we were. About the same age. You didn't hear about that as much, now it may have existed, but I don't.
I think that with social media, with all these other things that are going on, I think, you know, just totally unscientific in my part, but I think science backs it up too. And the data that depression, anxiety are on the rise and are continually rising in are probably sharp rises over the last decade or so.
So what does this have to do with depression and anxiety and, particularly obviously connected to sport, but, that affects everything that we do.
Brad: [00:16:58] Yeah. So, you know, and, and [00:17:00] you're right, that depression, anxiety are on the rise, especially for teens and especially for girls, There's just much, much more pressure on so many things and social media, absolutely.
That, just some very consistent research kind of says, look at your mood before you get on social media. And then what's your mood when you get off? Right. And a lot of people report much more feelings of depression and anxiety. And because it's not real, right. We know about why social media can have its downs and it has its upsides.
Everything has an upside downside. So there's a lot of pressure on kids and elite athletes have even more, most elite athletes are people who tend to do the more perfectionistic. Right. They have high standards for themselves, and that's really anxiety driven. Perfectionism is kind of anxiety driven. It's that feeling of, if I don't do it this well and do a grade two, a perfect bad things are gonna happen.
Something that, that not right feeling kind of comes over us. that's a huge part of why elite level athletes can have even more pressure on them. They can have more struggles, before the pandemic one in three teens would have an anxiety disorder by the time they're 18. Wow. And one in five [00:18:00] would have major depression before they're 18 and with a pandemic about seven and 10 kids, and some studies have reported you having mental health struggles during COVID.
And so it's just so much harder. Our brain. Is wired to protect us, keep us safe. It's a number one job of the brain. And the best way to keep us safe is we know what to expect, make things predictable. Well, the pandemic has been very unpredictable in many ways. Are we at school? Are we not at school? Are we going to play?
Are we not going to play? Can we do inner squad scrimmages? Can we not? Can we travel the state? Can we not all these different things to have a tremendous impact on these athletes. And of course it's going to affect their focus. Being in the moment, their motivation, their energy, and it's going to make soccer a struggle.
And I think there are many clubs that have reached out to us who said, you know, it's great. You're going to help us with the performance part. We're really glad you're helping us with the anxiety, depression, the stress of COVID, because it's so pervasive in youth teams, and it really affects them obviously on the field, [00:19:00] but off the field as well.
And so that's a big one part of what we do and really what I love about what we do as far as I'm so proud of is that when we do these groups, And we're gonna do some of these webinars for pros as well as for the new teams. We've done college teams, but when you have a group and you talk about these things, you normalize it and you say, yeah, this is a part of life and it's even harder now.
And you would give them some statistics to kind of show that. But we talk about say whether you, we have pro athletes come on with quotes and slides and videos, talking about their anxiety, their struggles with depression and what that really does. It normalizes it for them. And now we're more able to have a discussion and we've had, in our zoom.
Sessions as we've kind of done with the pandemic and people come in and go, yeah, this is hard. And you know, I go through this and we have a place to talk about. We talk about where you find resources leaning on other people. Sometimes we can't do it ourselves. We need somebody else to help support us and give us strategies.
Then we can pick ourselves up and then we can improve. So I'm really appreciate you bring up the anxiety, depression, cause it's absent. Absolutely a part that we need to be [00:20:00] aware of where when we're talking about use force, as well as just life in general for kids.
Phil: [00:20:03] Yeah. That's something that obviously this goes well beyond sport.
this is something that we're talking the sport, but this goes to all performance. this goes to, when you talk about performance anxiety, or they were going to get to that a little bit later, too, that goes to jobs that goes to the work. That you're doing the idea of perfectionism. Isn't just a sports thing.
I mean, I was an attorney for eight years and I know that that was a very common thing. The anxiety and depression is very common in that as well. And so, it's one thing I just want to make sure, as you said, you normalize it, but you don't stop there, obviously. So that's where the conversations that you were talking about with the, Take control and develop purpose and peace. I mean, all of those go into fighting against those depression and anxiety. Am I right there? I just want to make sure I'm not
Brad: [00:20:47] putting yeah, absolutely. and Wells Thompson, who's one of our four founders of soccer and he went through a lot of anxiety, depression, and some real struggles with.
Substance abuse as a teenager and, him opening up, and all of us sharing our stories of struggle. [00:21:00] It helps it set the stage. And so absolutely. So normalizing it. One is important, right? Because we often feel we're defective. If I have performance anxiety, something's wrong. When I played college, I'm everything like, what's wrong with me.
Everybody else looks so calm and I'm over here in my head, freaking out, like, what's wrong with me? You know? And people would tell them to go, you look totally common. You played, of course now later on talking to people on my team, it's like, Oh, you had worries too. You struggled some like you did.
But that's the thing. I think it's kind of breaking through and saying, Hey, if one in three kids have an anxiety disorder, by the time they're 18, you're on a team of, 18 kids. Yeah. I, I tell you that there's many kids, but we don't show it. Right. We hold it in. We kind of bury it in.
So I think just helping them understand that is huge and just how the brain works. And we'll get to that in a little bit, but why the brain leads us to anxiety and depression, just the natural functions of it and how we can help kind of counter that and help our brain be able to function we're in a helpful way.
Phil: [00:21:51] that goes into, and you've said this when we talked before in preparation for the interview, but it says, knowing it's not a you issue, but it's a brain issue.
[00:22:00] What do you mean by that? And why does it, why is it important to really understand what that means?
Brad: [00:22:04] Yeah, so our brains are wired to keep us alive. That's their number one job. And if your brain sucks at job, number one, it doesn't matter if it's a great, a job number two and three and 10 or whatever it's gonna be.
You're not gonna be around to see it. So the brain has to be able to keep us safe. So as a result, it has this really, really strong alarm, very sensitive alarm, where it goes off a lot of times unnecessarily and our brains wired to really keep us from physical threats of danger. The problem is our brain gets.
It's wires mixed up. And it also worries about feeling disappointed or scared or sad or embarrassed. And it sees those things as equally dangerous. So our brain views making a mistake, having an own goal is equally dangerous, is rattlesnakes on the field. Clearly they're different, but to the brain, they feel the same.
And that's why we can have these false alarms. So when you understand how the brain works and the brain has a negative bias, you know, on the average day, the average person. [00:23:00] 80% of our thoughts are negative 80%. Imagine what that looks like, Phil. We were having a stressful day, right? It's going to be bigger.
So our brain is just throwing at us all the, a lot of negative things about what's not right now. What's not good about it and what could go wrong way more than what is going well and what could go well in the future. And our brain is wired to detect the danger now, but what could go wrong in the future?
That's why when somebody makes a higher level team or gets to start. They're happy sometimes for about five or 10 seconds. And they get this feeling their brain goes into threat mode because the brain's like, wait a minute, if you just got to start, if you just made this team or you just got a job, whatever it may be, then you can not do well.
And then you'd feel really disappointed. Cause you're getting the thing you want. Oh God, that's horrible. Let's just not do it. The brain's number one solution. Avoid. And how does it get us to avoid it makes us so uncomfortable. It wants to talk us out of it, right? If you know, it's like the thing that the last time any of us got sick, we had the stomach flu, whatever you ate.
In my case, it was vegetable lasagna from [00:24:00] Costco. And I literally, even to this day just saying it, I still feel kind of like, Ugh, Right because our brains wired to protect us from danger. Well, it doesn't the same with emotional things. So when we make a mistake on the field, our brains like, Oh yeah, you're not playing that position.
You're not taking the ball again. And now we shy away from the ball. We don't want the ball and we get rid of it as fast as we can because our brains having a false alarm. So when you tell this to players, they go, Oh, Yeah, the brain makes it harder sometimes, right? The brain makes it harder to perform.
And it's what brains do. It's not a Brad issue, or if there's a brain issue now that we know that here's how you can help rewire your brain and change your brain so it can help you more. And that is a huge message because most of us think we're defective when we struggle. Other people don't go through hardships and just knowing that's how the brain works.
You kind of remove you from being the sort of defective too. This is not my brain works and we needed to work that way, by the way, we want to be safe, but we can override some of those negative, false alarms and have ways to cope better. So that's why it's so important [00:25:00] to know it's how the brain functions, rather than just, negative things.
You might think I'm weak, I'm soft. I'm not strong enough. I'm not good enough. All those normal negative thoughts that can pile in.
Phil: [00:25:08] that totally reminds me of the book that I referenced earlier. Switch on Your Brain by Caroline Leaf. And I was able to interview her for the other podcast that I do, and just a fantastic interview.
But talking about that rewiring of the brain, that idea of the toxicity, the toxic thoughts, which causes your brain to actually be more toxic versus replacing them with healthy thoughts that will then actually help it to be more healthy. So you'll be able to do the rewiring and the different things.
So that's very, very unscientific Phil Darke version of Switch on Your Brain. Strongly recommend it, go check it out, read it listen to Caroline Leaf, her stuff. But that goes into the next thing. I want to talk to you about a little bit deeper. As far as the , you talked about the performance anxiety you experienced in college, talked about it affected you.
You talk about that. You were able to, you know, learn the reset and learn to overcome it to a certain extent. Maybe not. As early as you would have liked, but at some point, but what does it look like? What are you talking about? The reset, talking about [00:26:00] retraining your brain. Like, what does, what does that actually look like in practice?
Brad: [00:26:03] Yeah. So I kind of think of it as we want to have two approaches. One is a preventative approach. Let's strengthen. It's kind of an ankle injury, If you have an ankle injury, there's two ways to deal with it. One is you want to know, when it's injured, right.
You have to, you know, rehab it and get it stronger again. But now that it's strong, let's do two things. One let's do continued strengthening, stretching exercises, To help it. And then when it gets injured, how do we respond? Knowing when it's just sore, we can play through it and like, no, That's a good amount of pain.
I need to stop and do some treatment and then I'll be back, sooner than later. Right? So it's sort of that preventative. And then how do we react to it? And I think of it in the same way with that sort of performance, anxiety and different struggles we can have with our emotions, really to soccer one, we want to be preventative.
We want to help rewire the brain and how do we do that? And so a lot of reasons, really important things. A lot of things are really simple. It's just hard to get us to be committed to them. Yeah. So I'll just give you a couple, but some really important ones is deep breathing. If we [00:27:00] made a commitment to say, I am for three to five minutes every day, going to prize a wonderful breeding.
I like it's called four two four breathing and it's in through the nose. Inhale it's is only at the nose only. So it's into the nose for four hold for two and out for the nose for four. And what we know about this is that it gets us to that peak place. Sometimes we're too flat. We're too sluggish.
And this gets us more energy. Sometimes we're, to energizedd we're too keyed up and this brings us back. So it gets us to that sort of peak level of performance in four two four can do that. And by breathing, the more we practice the breathing, the deep belly breathing, the brain gets rewired and now it is quicker to calm.
We can make ourselves better and better, and the more we do it, the faster it works. Another preventative measure is really practicing. meditation for a lot of kids, a lot of athletes sitting and listening to your breath for five, 10 minutes is really hard, right? You can do guided meditation.
Sometimes the calm app, the Headspace app is really helpful. That way, a YouTube, a guided meditation, something that can have [00:28:00] portable with them at all times, just to help them take five minutes. Again, that's rewiring their brain and it's helping their brain learn to calm quicker. And it's building that muscle, That's where that ability to calm that resilience is a muscle that we can build with exercise. Another thing that's so important is mindfulness how to be present in the moment. There's a lot of simple things. Again, common Headspace has some wonderful apps, but something even as simple as I'm going to close my eyes and listen for.
What I hear, I'm just going to focus on what I hear and I do that for a minute and I'm going to open my eyes, my brains reset a little bit. Now it's more focused on here. I've kind of distracted myself from some of the thoughts, right? Mindfulness, that idea that our brain is always thinking about the future and always the past.
How do we get in the moment? And so if you're able to do meditation, that's great. You keep bringing your mind back to the present, back to the present, back to the present. So when you're under stress, you can kind of bring it back. So those are my. Three of my favorites where you do breathing the four two four breathing, the mindfulness, the guided meditation.
And then, okay, now that helps us kind of reset. That's [00:29:00] working on it. We can do a lot of this at night is a great way to do it or do it in the morning. Paired up with something that's part of your routines. So do it before you get on your phone in the morning, do it at night before you go to bed, they were more likely to follow through.
So those are three things that we will do a lot of time with in gratitude, right? We all hear about gratitude, just simply the practice of noticing what's good in your life. How do we rewire our brain to get better at noticing that a really simple way is writing down three times a day, something I'm grateful for.
Something good in my life. It could be, I'm able to play soccer, I'm able to run. I guess I spend time with family. I had a really fun call with my friend. I got to go outside and take some funny videos of my sister. That's three things we're grateful for. If we do that, literally Phil for eight to 12 weeks.
I'm set for 12 weeks, three times a day. Studies show significantly less depression and anxiety. It's so simple. It takes like three or five minutes. But doing it as hard for so many of these strategies are just sort of having the time. So those would be preventative measures, right. Preventive things we can do.
[00:30:00] And certainly, you know, that's how we rewire our brain. And then, okay. How about the reactive part? What do we do when we're in that moment? Right. When the anxiety comes to us and that's where that reset, Greg Kittle for the Niners. Here's this one thing I really, like you said that he would write our job big red.
Circle on his tape on his hand. And when he made a mistake, when he got frustrated, he would hit it. And that was his reset, So we have sort of a physical activity followed by a mental mantra, then that can really help us some players that work with the, on their short they'll tap the logo on their short.
And then they'll kind of say next, play next, play next play. Or they might breathe in and go one, two, three, and then breathe out one, two, three. But if you have a plan, how that works is that if you practice it in practice every day, every day in practice, then when you get to the game, your brain gets trained.
That's what I do. And over time, just simply tapping your shorts already starts the brain. To shift onto the next play, even before you say the mantra, So we want us to have a plan. Some people it's a recover, right? That when I make a mistake, I'm going to [00:31:00] visualize myself saying recover, recover, recover.
I run back behind the ball as fast as I can support my teammates and try to win back possession. And you can visualize that over and over and over. With a mantra, For me, it was like, I helped my team. I helped my team. I helped my team. You actualize it by visualizing you doing that. And that helps your brain be more reset to go.
Okay. I'm focused on how I recover. Our brain is going to flip our lid when we make a mistake. And now we're going to have this anxiety. It's going to be we're in threat mode. Something horrible has happened. And when we're truly in threat mode, then we're just kind of stunned. Half of, at least our attention is stunned.
And half of it's maybe on the game, that's going to clearly affect performance, but we train our brain to say when, and this is a really important thing I like to tell people is you want to empower yourself and take control when this happens, this is what I'm going to do. When I make a mistake, this is what I'm going to do.
I have a wonderful video that I have for parents that works for players too. It's called how to help your kids stop fearing mistakes. And what I have them do is [00:32:00] watch professional games. Pick a team, watch a game and go pay. I'm going to watch this game and have, make a contest. You win someone else and try to see whose team makes five mistakes.
The fastest. And then hit the stop and go. How long did that take? Okay. Wow. These pros make a lot of mistakes. Okay. Now let's do round two. Right now. We're going to watch the game. And this time, what I want to do is let's find a positional player. So I played in the back. So I'll take the fenders. You take midfielders and we see what screen makes mistakes fastest.
Okay. Then we go the third round, right. And we can say, okay, now pick out when your favorite players. Three mistakes they make who gets there quick. It's like, man, even my favorite player, even Kane makes three mistakes. Okay. All right. So then here we go. And the fourth one is now find your team again, watch it.
Find five mistakes and then how they recover. And so now you're sort of going, Oh, this is a normal thing. And that's retraining your brain to write, to notice. These are normal things to help you stop fearing mistakes, fear mistakes is one of the biggest challenges for players. So by doing all those things, meditation, mindfulness, she gets your mind to a place where it's not as reactive, but you also we'll have a [00:33:00] plan.
So you have to predict, we call the triple P's, predict the challenges, have a plan and practice them. That's when the brain settles. So a really powerful word is when. When I make a mistake, I'm going to tell myself I'm going to tap my logo. My Nike logo at is and say, recover, recover, recover our next play next, play next play.
And if I visualize that that's cemented more and now I'm more likely to do it. I'm training my brain without being on the field to do it by mentally rehearsing it because the same neural pathways get activated in visualization, guided imagery as they do, when you actually do the thing. And that's why it's so powerful.
So, you know, for me it's having preventative measures, but a plan. I think the biggest challenge, honestly, for players is a preventative part. It's like, okay. When I make a mistake, here's my plan players. Like, yeah, I'll do that. Okay. But I don't really want to do like meditation. I don't want to do mindfulness.
I don't do deep breathing. And so they won't do those things a lot. And that's why these things can continue to happen. Kind of flare up more. So that's prevention is such a huge part.
[00:34:00] Phil: [00:34:00] Yeah. And you talked about with the gratitude to the idea of 12 weeks, the idea of the was 63 days of doing something it's three cycles of 21 days, you know, cause that's where it was originally.
It's 21 days we'll help you, but then they realized three cycles, but to really create habits and that's effectively what we're doing here is you have a trigger and then we've replaced the bad thing with a good thing. I mean The Power of Habit or the Atomic Habits or all these different that are, that are great books, but that's really, the idea is you have a trigger and then bad thing.
No, we replaced it, but you can't just say, I'm going to stop bad thing. You got to replace it with good thing. Right. And so that's really what's going on here, but it's easier to see the tangible on the field to go. If I don't juggle, my first touch is not good. That's easier to see than if I don't visualize, if I don't actually meditate and you know, and I'm a Christian and some people might be cringing at the word meditation and it look, you're like meditate on scripture, meditate on something that is an affirmation that is, is good for you.
That is true too. You know, that works and just know that that's [00:35:00] your. That's your practice for when that trigger happens, then you're able to respond in a way that is healthy rather than toxic. And so, again, like anything else in life, the developmental tough foundational things that are just that.
Practices that we have to do to be better, whether it's in sport or in our jobs or in our families, if we don't do those foundational root preventive things. And I work in orphan care, if we don't do family strengthening and poverty alleviation, we're going to have more need for orphan care of adoption and foster care.
And anti-trafficking work because we don't do the preventive. If you're not doing this preventative, you know, brain training really. With the mindfulness stuff, then it's not going to work on the field, you're not just going to be able to flip that switch and say, now we're good.
Am I missing anything
Brad: [00:35:50] there? No, that's a great summary. Alex Morgan came out and said, I have restless legs and a restless mind before games. I use [00:36:00] visualization and deep breathing, to help me be present and ready to go, you know, Aaron Rod gers, right. It's talked a lot about, meditation this year, when he got to the NFL MVP, what did he say?
Hey, we can do what you do. We need to read more. We need to meditate more. Right. That that's really helped him be more present in the moment. So with these professional athletes coming out and sharing those stories, it's starting to make an impact in my hope is that, you know, you and I do this in 20 years, and this is much, they're like, you guys didn't do that a lot.
And you know, it's a joke, a laugh, right. That would be wonderful. And I think we're moving there. It's still got a long ways to go.
Phil: [00:36:32] Yeah. And I, I think it really hit me how different it is as far as that mental prep for a game, whatever it is when the other day my son said to me, I listened to classical music before a game.
It calms me down. It brings me in and that was like, I've never like, and this is my son. And I just heard this a few, you know, he's 17. And he just now tells me this. I don't even know he listened to classical music, but that's really when it looks, it's not the same for everyone. Some people listen to Metallica to get fired up.
I don't know if they still listen to Metallica now, probably something else, [00:37:00] And so I think that for mindfulness, for this training of our brain, for the switch on your brain, whatever you want to call it, It's it's going to be different, but it's something that will get you there. And the visualization, I think is critical.
I mean, that's something we've learned. And even when, when I was playing ancient dinosaur, I am, we were talking about that where you visualize it happening and that way you're, as you said, to know that you're practicing as well. So we could talk on and on for this, but, you know, I w I want, I do want to move on a little bit to the next, the next thing, cause we, we got a few more things I really want to get to with you.
And one is the idea and I, and I've been saying this a lot recently. People in, in various settings, whether it's, in my organization and talking with the people that I work with there, whether it's on the teams, that I'm part of, whether it's in the ministries, that I'm a part of. But I talk about the idea of what you celebrate.
Yeah. Practice how does that principle relate to the mindfulness conversation that we're having?
Brad: [00:37:53] Yeah. You know, our brain will go where we tell it to go, and the example, I really like it's like, think about the last [00:38:00] time you bought a car. Right. You probably think about a couple of different cars and then maybe you kind of honed it in, okay, this is a car I want now, where am I going to get it?
And as you did that, all of a sudden on the freeway, do you ever notice, you noticed more cars on there for that that's car on the freeway and in parking lots, you think what did like Honda or somebody come together and do this great advertising? And the answer is the brain focuses on what we tell it to.
And it comes from ancient times. Think about if we're back in cave, women came in days, right? That our brains wired. We walk out of the cave. We're supposed to know exactly what that landscape looks like, and we will store it and get it quickly. We weren't really consciously processed, but that's what we do.
And if there's any change, if there's a Bush, that's kind of partly down. If there's some, some far over here, if there's anything different, we're on more alert because that could mean danger. And so our brain still uses that today. So when we tell them, when you're looking for a car, you don't consciously go, Hey brain.
It'd be really cool if you really paid attention to this. Cause I really want this car and I'm kind of stressed about the best deal of what, where to get it. Your brain just does it because you said it's important and now it notices it more. Well, the same thing happens with [00:39:00] our game, right. That we can.
So if we celebrate things, if we celebrate the effort, If we focus on the courage to try something, if we go, you know what? Like, I love it. When coaches say their kids and go, Hey, Yeah, this is about today. This is about how we conduct ourselves. How we play our effort. We're going to have a really high effort, right?
We're going to support each other. When our effort dips, we pick our teammates up, are going to work really hard today, right? Okay. Strong effort. Okay. We're going to be present. We're going to try to focus on what's happening. When a mistake happens, we try to focus back on the next play that's happening to us, and we're going to stick with the plan we have on how we play.
Right. So that's what we're focusing on in celebrating afterwards. The North Carolina courage coach had this wonderful thing where he said, I never even really talked about goals. It was like, we just made about the process. And even when they were up, I think to zero at half or winter, it happened under the sec championship.
He was still focused on the process. He wasn't like, what's the score. Here's what we do is like, we do the same thing. So that process is so important thing as we celebrate the process and how [00:40:00] hardworking strategies get us to where we want to go. Then I think that's important when we focus on don't make a mistake.
Don't do anything to get you pulled out or to have your teammates mad at you or your parents, your coach, disappointed with you. Then that's what we focus on. Right? So celebrating the effort, the hard work, the strategies, and pushing through something I really like to do is have coaches and parents focus on what are your kids or players do after they make a mistake?
And celebrate that and go, Oh my gosh, it's great. I love this. I'll give you a quick example. My daughter's in the tournament. And if they win this game, they went to the finals and they're down one zero tight game. The ball comes and she heads it and it's going, and it goes in the upper 90 of her own goal.
And I'm like, ah, right. I play center back all my life. So of course, thoughts in my head are like, ah, right. But what I do is I watch what she does and she's, kind of does she's eyes are up eyes level, She's kind of got her feet going. And she's back and she plays hard.
She actually plays harder. She actually plays better. of course, part of my brain. Cause that [00:41:00] negative focus is like, Oh, I can't believe she didn't. Why didn't she square shoulders? If she'd squared her shoulders, she cleared it out. No problem. She didn't square shoulders. That's what happened.
Right. And of course my brain is doing it, but I've trained my brain over the years to go. That's not where your focus is. Look at what she's doing, because then I go, yeah, I remember when I make a mistake, it's hard to work hard. It's hard not to be in your head. So afterwards she comes off the field and she goes, so dad, did you do you like that goal?
And she has a smile. I go, yeah, it's pretty nice. She goes the upper 90. I'm like, yeah, I was over 90. Of course. There's part of my brain wants to go. Yeah. Why didn't you square your shoulders? Come on. You know, and I'm fighting it, but then I go, you know, I'm so proud of you when they scored that goal. You know what?
You worked hard and you actually played better. I could not tell by the way that you just played. That you had actually had an own goal. And then when I celebrate that, and that's what we focus on, that's where her mind goes now. Like that's what dad really cares about more. He cares about that. I'm going to work hard and push through them after a mistake rather than the mistake itself.
And do I does a mistake bother me, of course. So I want to say things of course, but I've [00:42:00] trained my brain. That that's the way you celebrate is where you go. And so I think that that's what we can do as coaches to you. If I was playing in a game, especially as a new player and I made a mistake, I don't go.
And someone goes, yeah. Hey, Brad, Brad, we're on to the next place. Show me how you respond. I know you're going to respond, give me a strong response, but I want to see a strong response. Show me you can work. I'm like, Oh yeah, I will run through a wall for you. When I make a mistake, you're, that's how you're going to talk to me.
I will. Right. So if we can learn to talk to ourselves that way. What an enormous strategy to help us be in the moment and push through setbacks. And then that we retrain our brain that way to not fear the mistake, but to celebrate how we recover and how we push through.
Phil: [00:42:45] Yeah, and I absolutely love that and it remains signs me of something.
And I can't remember which coach I was talking with, but it's, somebody who's going to email me and goes so-and-so. But the idea that after a game, rather than focusing on the negative things, the things [00:43:00] that we did wrong in a game, rather than focusing on, Oh, that mistake or this mistake, and here's how we can be better to focus on going back to like the gratitude three things to point out.
And they said that they have players say. Sally did great on that play. And Emma did phenomenal what an amazing move, what an amazing shot, and whether you win, lose tie, it doesn't matter. You're that's the, that's the practice at the end of the game. So you're celebrating the positives. You're also celebrating celebrating right. You're celebrating, celebrating each other and that alone, I think, I mean, I'm not an expert like you are, but that seems to me, like that would be something that you would train and then that would go for all kinds of different things. Not just play on the game. Am I, am I right?
Brad: [00:43:46] Absolutely. And kids will internalize those important people. What's important people around them. Do. So as a coach, you have a tremendous influence. So after the game, instead of like, Oh great, here we go, coach is going to lay into us about all the things that went wrong. [00:44:00] It's like, he's going to highlight that.
And when we highlight what goes well and what we can do, the brain's already got the negative bias. Most players already know their mistakes. Right? Most players already know what didn't go. Well, You don't need to rehash for them, but when somebody says, Hey, let's focus on these three things. Okay. How can we build on that for next time?
And again, there can be a time and place to talk about what didn't go. Well, that's very important too, but it's how we talk about, but when that's what they are thinking of, the first thing that you're going to have discussions about, that's huge because it tells them to go, Oh, that, and still celebrate things.
Even when you made some mistakes, you can still celebrate things. Even when you struggled, even when you guys didn't win. And I think that's a great way to retrain their brain. So then there'll be more likely to do that themselves internally. Now they're in practice and they make a mistake and go, wait a minute, what's going on?
Well, okay, Sally did this, or Joe did this. And so those types of things absolutely are hugely impactful on train the player's brain.
Phil: [00:44:54] Yeah, my wife and I have a saying in our house that when you shank a shot, you don't need someone to tell you you shanked the shot. [00:45:00] she was a soccer player too, and it's true, right?
When you mess up, you don't know. I wish I'd listened to my own advice. I, I often say I'm a better coach than a player. And I can think of something I did yesterday that I, I look back and go, yeah. Probably should have handled that differently. And even when I was told I should have handled it differently, I still did not respond as I should.
So that's, that's really confession folks. So just vulnerability transparency here on how soccer explains leadership. So let's move on a little bit. We, we, we mentioned growth, fixed mindset earlier. We mentioned mindset by Carol Dweck who is kind of making this really famous right now. But can you just talk about that a bit more?
Like what, what is it if you've listened to this show more than this episode, you've heard mindset probably more than, you know, if you haven't read it, you're like, what is this book we're talking? What is growth fixed? I don't even know what the heck, what is it, how does it relate to soccer?
And, what are the implications for, for life in general as well for this idea of fixed versus growth mindset.
Brad: [00:45:52] Yeah, this book is, one of my top two books. I love, I have such a passion for it. I have told so many people about the concept. And like, yeah. [00:46:00] Okay. Brad, I just wonder, relax and watch me, let me listen to so what I love about this concept of Carol Dweck has put together is that it is so simple and straightforward and it's so applies to our life as a, as a person, as a parent, as an athlete, it may different directions.
So. The way I think of it is that there is two main ways we can think of things. So we're not just one or the other, right. We have fixed mindset, thoughts, continually growth, mindset, thoughts continuously. So we swim back and forth between those poles, but in a fixed mindset when we're in that place, that what we know is that a person then starts to believe that skills and abilities are innate.
You're kind of born with it. That you kind of have it or you don't. So either I can play goalie or I can't on the good center back and I'm good at math or I'm not. So it's kind of as black and white, you kind of have it or you don't. And so if you believe that, then you don't really value a lot of hard work and effort that goes into things.
Cause they don't really have it. If I have to get a tutor to do well in math, even if I get a good grade, well, then you didn't really have it Brad, let's be honest. That's that fixed mindset. Very, very focused on outcomes. Very focused on [00:47:00] status and a way that people, and I didn't know this before the book, but the way that people create a fixed mindset, especially in kids is you praise their skills and abilities and you label them as smart, as athletic, as gifted as.
You know, I'm musically inclined. You're a great goal. You're a great dancer. you're incredible student. You're so smart because it sounds like great praise. It's like, well, this is great news, but what happens is now their brain goes, Oh, so if you tell me I'm smart, because I got an a then what am I when I get a C.
And that creates that anxiety, right? If I'm, if I'm a great player, cause I scored a goal today, what happens when I miss a couple of these chances and I don't right. Set fixed mindset very much. Like you gotta, you don't, you don't really value hard work and strategies. Cause that means, you know, you're not really that gifted and they don't like challenges because I might look bad.
I want to avoid looking bad. And I don't really like feedback because it's just going to highlight for me. If I can't learn Spanish, don't try to tell me Phil I can. It just makes me mad. That's that fixed mindset? The [00:48:00] growth mindset says, okay, you know what? I'll give you that. Maybe two to 3% of people in this world who are, I'm sorry, two quick things to the fixed mindset when you watch people on TV, a French class.
And so we're taking this class and I don't really know, I have a fixed, we're just taking it. We're studying, we're doing everything the same. And we both get a D minus. In a six months, I'm like, see Phil. I told you I can't do this. I'm not good at French. I don't know why you signed me up for this. I'm out of here.
And my motivation, dibs, my effort dips, and I don't get better. You is at a growth mindset. Go, man, this is a hard class. Well, I studied this way. I thought I'd I typically do pretty well. Never gotten that low in a class. Okay. Well, I guess this class is harder, so it just takes more strategies. Who can I talk to?
Who else in the class did? Well, it can go into office hours, talk to the teacher, maybe get a tutor, maybe go online, go on YouTube, find some information. And you believe that there's a path forward. You can get better and it fixed you. Don't and I'll be honest with self disclosure. So for me, As a soccer player, as a youth player, or I had a growth mindset about defending.
I love the challenge. I was like, do you give me the [00:49:00] biggest, fastest, strongest? I want it. And it was fun. I didn't always win those battles, but I really liked it. I created it. It was fun for me. I found just it's it was really stimulating for me. However, I had a fixed mindset with my technical skills. So what would I do?
Distributed distributed, distributed as fast as I can. That was my plan all the time. I didn't go work on it. One-on-one because I was afraid that I would just feel worse about myself and feel even more stressed and even more discouraged than myself. So we void things, especially as athletes, scenarios that are struggled for us, that just work out the drills that really good at kids who are great at shooting.
I'll go shoot for an hour, right? They're not as good as, you know, sitting in crosses. They don't want to work on that ever. It, when it comes to in practice, they're like, Oh God, here we go. You just
Phil: [00:49:41] describe my nine-year-old. Yeah. Yeah. I I'm like envisioning my nine year old when you said that,
Brad: [00:49:46] yeah. Right. And so, so that's where that comes from. But when we have a language. And go, Oh, and in my private practice as a psychologist, after I read this book, I realized too, how I was missing the boat with people, people come in and have anxiety and say, I've got [00:50:00] anxiety, they'd work on things.
They had a fixed, I didn't know, it didn't have the terminology yet, but they would then work on it until it didn't work and go, Brad, I'm just an anxious person. But now that about mindset, we'll talk about mindset and go, okay. What type of mindset is that? That's a fixed, right. Okay. What would the growth mindset say?
Go ahead. Might say this is hard. It's going to take more time hard. The alternative way to spell hard Phil is T I M E it just means it's harder. It's not impossible. It's just harder. So it's like, okay, so anxiety's tough. So you're going to need to work harder to make progress. It's going to take more time than you want.
You're gonna have to try different, more strategies than you want, but if it's important enough to you and you're willing to work harder and try different strategies with no guarantee of success until you find the ones that work, then you can get better. And if you don't want to, that's fine, but you want to own it and say, I could get better.
I could learn to piano. I could learn Russian, but it just isn't worth the time and effort and energy to do it. So I'm going to choose not to, not because I can't, but because I'm choosing not to. So that really empowers people as well. And when working with athletes, it [00:51:00] has been completely such a game changer for them to just go, Oh, that's the fixed mindset.
So they have a term, a label for it. And then how do I get into a growth mindset? Right? What would the growth mindset say? And that sort of restrict some of the toxic thoughts, right? Our negative thoughts go to fixed mindset, thoughts, a lot, particularly making mistakes, or we think we might make a mistake.
Oh God, we're playing a team. That's really good. They're like one of the top in the league of great. Isn't gonna be a horrible day and we go, I'm going to look horrible. They're going to beat me. And I'm going to be embarrassed. This sucks because mindset is like, Whew. This will be a hard game. It'll be a hard game.
All right. We've got a really, like, lock-in figured out I'm going to coach and go coach. Like if a halftime they're taking it to us, I'm going to keep asking coach, like, what do I do? and you know what, this is tough, but, but we're going to learn something and if we can stay together, we learn how to stay together when things aren't going well, when a team's taken it to us and that can be a gold day.
Okay. That's the growth mindset.
Phil: [00:51:52] the idea of the strategy, right? I mean, if, fixed the mindset, I just look at it and go, we wouldn't play [00:52:00] games. If you have a sixth tier team in England playing against a premier league team in the FA cup, you wouldn't even play it. Just show up. And you'd put up the score six Oh.
And leave. Right. But that's how those teams beat, you know, they over-perform. Yes. But they also have a strategy that's going to work against that team. So the over-perform doesn't just happen. Either that team can't go in. If they go in and go, we lost, we're done. They are done. And they did lose. But if they go in and they say, Hey, let's go out there.
This is a challenge. Let's give it to, you know, I think like William Wallace and Braveheart, like we choose to fight, right? Like, that's the idea that we're choosing to fight. We're choosing to go forward, as you said, or, you know, you can choose in life to not do something, but it's your choice in that rather than saying I can't do it now.
I think there is a reality check too. Like, I'm not going to say, Oh, I can go dunk a basketball just because I want to, but there are five foot, eight dudes who can dunk a basketball [00:53:00] now. There's a lot to that. Don't get me wrong. But the idea is that with this, this goes back to what we talked about.
It's kind of come full circle in the conversation of the training of the brain to say, I'm going to, I'm going to replace that fixed with a growth mindset in this moment. Is that kind of what I'm hearing you say as far as, how do we actually, there might be certain personalities that are more prone to a fixed mindset versus a growth, but, as we can practice other personalities and become fluent in other personalities, we can become fluent in the mindset that may not be our natural bent.
Is that what I'm hearing? And is that what you would
Brad: [00:53:38] say. Absolutely that, we, we do have limitations, right? Am I going to be able to you know, beat Usain bolt in the sprint? Probably not. Right. So we do have limitations, but the point is, is what our personal limitations are. We hugely underestimate.
And that fixed mindset really kind of keeps us it's like we put ourselves in our own prison, the doors open, by the way, I have the fixed [00:54:00] mindset. He goes, yeah. Yeah. Doors locked. And the growth is like, well, I don't, I don't think it's open. I don't know what happens next, but so yes, we do have ceilings, We cap out just, we don't really know where they are. And so the goal is like, do I want to improve? Do I want to get better? We absolutely know people can do that. Where that will finalize. We don't quite know. But really it's the psychology term is cognitive restructuring. But what it simply is is you talked about here is you identify those negative thoughts as fixed mindset, thoughts, and a great way to identify them is write them down.
When we're feeling stressed or distressed, just grab a pen and write down what you're thinking. And when you see your thoughts on paper, it's like, wow, I'm the worst player. I suck. Coach will never play him again. God, no wonder why I'm stressed. Okay. Now are those Achatz you challenge them with facts? Am I the worst player?
No, I made this team, so I can't be the worst player. Okay. Right. We challenge them with facts and okay. Now what's the more accurate way to think of it in a phrase I really like is people say, be positive and there's a lot of good intentions with that. [00:55:00] Sometimes people, it doesn't work. If I'm stressed, you go, Hey Brad, be positive.
Like, yeah. Thanks. But I didn't think of that. But if someone goes, be accurate, That's more helpful. Right? So I challenged that, that I'm the worst player and I go, no, that's not true. I made this team. I can't be the worst player. They put me in some so clear. I'm not the worst player. Okay. What's the more accurate side I feel like on the worst player right now, but I've done some really good things too.
Right. So that's more accurate when we can make a statement more accurate, we digest it and we're okay. If I tell you, like right now, it's sunny in San Diego. It's a beautiful day. If I say I'm worried, it's going to rain tonight. Oh, Brad, it's not going to rain. That doesn't work because it could rain. But if you said to me, Hey Brad, you know what?
I get it. You got a big day going on, you have this big outdoor thing planned and you're really looking forward to planning it for weeks. And if it rains, you'd really be stressed. Yeah. I'd really stress, you know? So I get it, man. You're just worried about it. So brains do right brains, trying to worry about those things, even if they're not super likely.
So I get you're worried. Tell me how likely do you think it is? It's really going to rain. I don't know, [00:56:00] like probably 3% chance. Yeah. So it's a 3% chance. So you can worry, just try to make your worry around 3% instead of a hundred percent. Does that make sense? So those are things we can do that help make it more accurate because our brains enact as a negative bias.
We already know it's not accurate. If the brain was like doing the weather, it's like hail tornadoes, you know, tsunamis. Next day, hail tornado sooner. I mean, it's all it'd be, it'd be like, you know, like the end of the world movies. That's what it'd be every day. So if we don't challenge our brain, if we don't become more aware of the thoughts that we have, that becomes our reality.
So writing something down, it makes it tangible. It also activates the thinking brain. So next time a player is listening. This you're stressed or just a parent, anybody write down what you're doing and look at it and go, it's not a mystery. Why I'm angry or stressed or worried. So. Are those a hundred percent true.
Could I go to a court of law and say, yep, that's a hundred percent true. No, they'd find holes in. Okay. Then what's the more accurate thought and we can navigate the world. Even with the more accurate thought is coach may not [00:57:00] put me in today and that's going to feel disappointing. I'm still gonna try to be a good teammate.
So I might still be bummed. Right. But that's more accurate than coach will never put me in. If he doesn't play me now, he's never gonna put me in. Does that make sense?
Phil: [00:57:12] It makes perfect sense. And it's part of the reason I'm excited to, to have this conversation. I mean, we could, we could talk for hours and hours about this.
But we, we are going to wrap it up here in a few. One of the things though, I want to just, I it'd be remiss not to talk about this. You here. I mean, as a coach, I've said it, I don't know how many times I've talked about my kids in every area, whether it's sports or otherwise, but this idea of you play like you practice.
And I think that a lot of what we talked about today is. Proof of that, but can you just, as we, you know, before we go into the last two questions I ask everybody, can you just talk about that concept and why it actually is true and what it looks like in practice?
Brad: [00:57:51] Yeah. So Anson Dorrance has something. He calls the competitive cauldron and in this year, if we make that kind of concept, right, that he wants to have the players [00:58:00] practice with a level of intensity demands and stress.
That can be very, very similar to a game. So you're training your brain. To be able to adjust and deal with that level of intensity and stress. And we all know it's very hard to truly replicate it, but you can get pretty close. And so if you do that over and over and over again, right in practice, now you have trained your brain to say, okay, I know what it feels like to have the ball with enormous pressure, limited time expectations.
You know, coaches on me needing to play fast, whatever it may be are now it's a three V one and I'm the one, right? Whatever those scenarios are. And so when you incorporate that into practice, that really helps train the brain in telling the players why you're doing it and what you're doing and telling them this is how we're retraining your brain.
And this is how it's going to benefit you. That's a really important part too, because sometimes they don't understand how it gets out to the buy-in. So a way to have incorporated these things in our triple P's, I think I mentioned with psych predict two or three challenges that we asked players to do is think of two or three setbacks.
You're going to [00:59:00] have. Every practice because we know we're going to have, we know we're going to make mistakes, right. Again, we want to normalize that. That's one of the greatest thing I think coaches can do is to normalize it. So we say you're going to have two or three mistakes. Okay. I want you to visualize a strong practice things going well.
Right? That's part of practicing too. I want to visualize on the way the field, you know, 45, 60 seconds things going well. But I want you to visualize a couple challenges, a couple of setbacks and how you recover. I like that put into visualization. So now they've identified two or three challenges. The setbacks you're gonna have them practice.
Okay. Now what's my plan going to be okay. When I get frustrated, my first touch in a drill. And I messed up our rhythm, right? I'm going to then tell myself, you know, strong, first touch, you know, strong touch, strong shut Shaun touch. And that's it. I'm going to say next play next, play next play. So whatever that is, our eyes level, I'm going to put my head.
I'm not going to walk over and put my head down. When I get the ball that went out of bounds. I'm going to go ahead my eyes up and look forward. So they have a plan of what they're going to do. And then they practice that practice. So if [01:00:00] players will go, this is what I'm going to do every day, I'm gonna do two or three things to train the mental side of myself, specific goals are going to do, and it's usually recovering from a setback.
And so that's a good thing. If you do that through practice over and over again, that will translate into games of coaches can say again, they have to have this kind of idea of this is what we're going to do, and kids need to have a plan, but it's okay. Now I want you to practice your plan. Two or three times they didn't a practice.
It might just be, Hey everybody, who can share? when you know they had a plan, they used to adjust to it. And if that becomes, it could be halftime, speeches, those things, but those things done in practice are enormously helpful. We ask players to have the technical and tactical awareness and skills and ability in a game.
And so we train them in practice. We have to train the mental side. Those are a couple of kind of simple ways to do it, that they can translate from practice into a game.
Phil: [01:00:49] Yeah. And you know, I just had this idea now to, to start saying you practice like you practice, meaning the preparation and the prevention side too.
If you don't do that, you're not going to be able to practice. Well, [01:01:00] we didn't have that translate into the game as well. Just one question I'm curious of just as a coach, because I haven't found the secret sauce to be able to do it nor do I think anybody has, that I can tell in the premier league or otherwise is there a way to recreate the pressure and everything of a penalty kick.
Brad: [01:01:16] Yeah, that's a great question. I haven't really thought of that, but you know, I guess you could. You can find out from, because every kid's different. At the age. What's the thing they're most worried about, right? Because the pressure is often the brain going, Oh, what's going to happen. So how do you do that?
I mean, this would not be helpful, but you could have people saying negative thoughts to them as they're going to take a kick, you know, like, Oh, if you miss it, coaches gonna be mad. Your team's gonna mad at you. Right? I don't think that I thing that's still kind of like, not so helpful, right. To plan things in there, but that can create the stresses of PK.
If it's people behind the goal, just get random people to like, be behind the goal. You know, if it's that, the goalkeeper says something annoying plays with the ball a little bit. You know what I mean? If there's somebody. Who hackles them, there are kids who, right before a [01:02:00] PK, I be like, yeah, you're missing this.
Or you can disappoint your team or they'll say something. Right. So I guess it would be, what does each player find is more stressful about the PK? You know what I mean? And maybe rather than kind of, how do we recreate that pressure of a PK is find what they're worried about and see if it's healthy to kind of replicate and then go, okay, what's your strategy for it?
And I think really then focusing more on what's your strategy to push through that pressure is maybe more of the thing they recreating the actual environment. Does that make sense? Cause I've had a strategy, now they're like, Oh great. Like I'm just stressed again, but it's like, what are you going to do?
How do you take a PK? What do you tell yourself? What are you thinking? What's the narrative in your head? How are you coaching yourself? Something that I like to say to people is we are, the most important coach we'll ever have. You may love your coach dearly. Which are the most important coach you ever going to have?
So how are you coaching yourself during a PK? How are you coaching yourself during a set piece? How are you coaching yourself after you make a mistake? How are you coaching yourself in the last 10 minutes? So asking them, how do they coach themselves through a [01:03:00] PK? Hey, might be the thing to help them go, Oh, I've got a plan.
This is what I can think of. So I can tell myself is what I visualize. And then, like you said, practicing, visualizing the PK. That might be the greatest way, but how do you replicate it? It's a great question. You probably have a better answer than me.
Phil: [01:03:16] I don't yet, but now I'm noodling on it. I'm thinking about it and we'll buy between the two of us.
We'll figure it out before we move forward with this. Is out there, then we'll put it in the show notes and if it's not there, then we haven't figured out the secret sauce yet. But one of the things I was thinking about though, as you're talking about the negative thoughts and whether that would be healthy or not, it wouldn't be healthy in a vacuum, but maybe if we're preparing the player to say going back to this, to write down what is accurate, like, so what is the truth?
What's truth. So they're saying all these things, they're yelling, all these things that are your fears, but what is the truth? The truth is if you miss, it's not the end of the world, the truth is if you miss, you know, you might lose it end of the day, but it's not the end of the world life goes on. And so maybe, I mean, maybe that would be part of it, but at the end of the day, that [01:04:00] pressure that you get in a game, I don't know that there is a recreation of that without having like a negative consequences or you run a mile if you miss or something, but that's not gonna do that.
It's not gonna recreate the pressure. It's just gonna make it. So you don't want to, you don't want to miss, but that's different from pressure. So. Anyway, that's, that's something for another day, but Hey, if there is a secret sauce out there that somebody figured out, maybe you're not going to share it.
Cause you don't want to give the enemy of your opponent, the, the answer, but in the spirit of collaboration, which is what we're trying to foster here share that with us, again, at the how soccer explains leadership website, you can contact us that way too. So, now we're going to jump into these last couple of questions we ask everybody, which I always love hearing in talked about earlier, the idea of if you shank your shot , you don't need someone to tell you a shank a shot the idea of retaliator gets the red, you know, how have you used the principle you've learned directly from the game of soccer in your marriage or parenting or other relationships outside the game.
Brad: [01:04:53] What really has been a big part of that said that growth mindset has really changed how I've been as a parent. I used to have [01:05:00] stress watching my kids play because I didn't want bad things to happen. Right. Because my brain's got negative bias. So when I'm watching my kids and they happen to play in the back, which I played in.
So usually they play in the back. You make a mistake, it can result in the goal, right? So I used to watch soccer and I'd be so much more stressed than they were younger than now, 17 and 15. And I've learned. That, that was a me issue, man. I'm like, bro, that's all on you. Your kids are just playing. This is all in your head.
Right. And so I kind of was like, well, what am I focusing on? I was focusing on worried about them making a mistake and people being mad at them. Right. Or them feeling bad about themselves. And so I really kind of re shifted like, Hey, growth mindset, where they do next. Right. And I really do. And so now, you know, I love watching him play selfishly.
When I notice them doing something they haven't done before. I'm like you did that. I didn't know you could do that. I never seen it. How'd you do that? Did you guys do that in practice? You just come in the back. It what'd you do. And so I find so much more joy in being a parent of a soccer parent. I wish I'd known that from the get go.
I think it really started to shift me when were around, like maybe 12 and [01:06:00] 13. And, and so I just hope that whoever's listening. Can hear that too, of like find ways to enjoy your kids playing. I mean, it's, it's beautiful, it's wonderful. And sometimes our own stress, our own anxieties is parents can peel over and it takes away our joy, from watching those things.
And so all those things that sports psychology, I think as a parent you know, I make a ton of mistakes as a dad, as a husband, as a friend, as a parent. But, but I think also some I've really incorporated in my relationships is. Trying to be kind of present in the moment. My one word for this year, my buddy Wells came with this idea.
I think he took some other person too, but it's like one word. That's your matrass. And I were just present. So my goal for this year is to be present when good things are happening, not stressing about what's coming up tomorrow, but be in this moment. And when things aren't going well, but are hard. Is not to go, Oh God, what does it mean about tomorrow next week?
And next month it'd be in that moment. And so those are things I've tried to kind of incorporate my wife's a psychologist, so we laughed at say, we totally did the best way to screw up our kids. I have two parents as psychologists. There is no [01:07:00] better way to do that. Right. But, but, but in my, you know, meeting with people, I have the opportunity to learn something every day.
I may choose to ignore it any, choose not to follow it. But everybody who's going to be vulnerable and open. It just inspires me. It really does it just, I love to see the courage in people and it motivates me to try to be more that way myself, even though I got a bunch of flaws and make a bunch of mistakes.
Phil: [01:07:20] Yeah, just, just so you know, I think that my wife and I have screwed up our kids too, and we're not, neither of us are psychologists, so I think that's kind of a universal thing. But yeah, I think that that's so important to talk about, as you said, with just the, the celebrating with our kids, rather than, just.
Making it, whatever our issues are, projecting them on yeah. To them. And if they didn't have it before now, they do. Cause we projected it onto them. Right. You know? And so to not make assumptions, but to come in and just, encourage and love and obviously, disciplines necessary. I'm not saying never disciplined, but, but do it in a way that is.
Part of that growth mindset rather than the fixed, and part of understanding their [01:08:00] personalities and being able to come in there with their personalities and all those things I think are so important in, in to just see how, those play out in sports and then to be able to go, okay, if, if I can mess up 10 times in a game and still have a good game, then.
Why don't I take that to my parenting? Why don't I take that to my marriage? Why don't I take that to the relationships I have? If we mess up, how do we, how do we remedy that? Is it just a, to sulk and go, man, I'm the worst player ever. And I'm like, that never makes it better. Right. And so why do we tend to do that in our lives?
I don't know. You know, I mean, it's, I think it's just similar things that would cause us to do that.
Brad: [01:08:33] It's that brains negative bias, It will lock into it and just play it over, replay over and over and over again. And if we don't have a strategy to shift our thinking, right. Just like that person, that toxic thinking, that's why we do it is because that's, our brains are wired to do.
Phil: [01:08:48] absolutely. Okay. We've talked about a few books. We've talked about, some different things, some different resources, but what have you read, watched or listened to that has informed your thinking specifically on this topic of what we talk about on this show? How [01:09:00] soccer explains life.
Brad: [01:09:01] Yeah. So obviously mindset is one of those. If I had my gosh, it's so hard for me to narrow it down, but yeah. I'm sure listeners, I hope they're aware of a book called Grit by Angela Duckworth. It's absolutely wonderful. I think it really compliments mindset so nicely that power of passion and perseverance some wonderful examples in there that she talks about that I think they're really resonate with all of us that that's so powerful.
The Power of Habit. That was an incredible book. As you referenced today about just how. Our brain is wired to take behaviors and routines and turn them into habits. And then it just becomes so automatic. And that's great when it's a helpful habit. It's really challenging when it's not. There's a wonderful, very, I think, easy to absorb information, great stories with, different people in industry and in sports to kind of help incorporate that.
And the last one I'll say is Malcolm Gladwell's David and Goliath. That book I absolutely love because it's all about resilience. These people who are [01:10:00] underdogs, right. Who based on their circumstances were more likely to have struggles and to do well and how they found a way to overcome it. It just is such a great, I share it with so many people I work with and just be to our member and go, yeah.
Right. It's what you do with those things. And it really just helps us reframe, you know, that there are kids I'll work with sometimes who have struggles, anxiety, depression, different things, and they'll say, God, it just sucks. How come my friends, don't worry about this and have this kind of where they go down.
I'll say, you know, you're right. It does suck. And here's also an opportunity for you to know things that most adults never learn. And you know what those kids who aren't going through those struggles now they're going to hit some struggles at some point, and they're not going to be equipped to do it.
They're going to be surprised and go, wait, wait, wait, wait. I have anxiety. I have depression like me with college. Like I was like, wait, I have anxiety. But those kids would go through those struggles earlier and learn strategies and tools. They are more equipped in many ways in the long run than if it had never happened to them.
And that book is so wonderful to highlight that. [01:11:00] So I highly recommend all those
Phil: [01:11:01] books. Yeah, I, I absolutely love David and Goliath as well. And the idea in there that really you kind of just hit on there, alluded to at the end, there is your weaknesses can actually be your strengths in the long run. The fact that how many kids have you seen in soccer when they're young, that they just rely purely on their athletic, you know, that athleticism and they're faster.
They're stronger, they're bigger. They've grown up way faster than everybody else. And they're killing everybody, but they never work on their technique. They never worked on their tactics. They never work on anything else. They don't work on their speed or anything else. And then everyone grows up, matches them.
And they're Surpassing them, or on the flip side, the kid who was tiny, who was slow, but he works on his, or she works on his, on the, on her, you know, technique and tactics. And they just become that first touch is unbelievable and all these other things and they come and, you know, they're, they're average all along, but then they just they average becomes then better and better and better.
And then all of a sudden they're better than everybody. And even that David and Goliath talking about David, the fact that he was small and agile and he had this, this rock and his sling, and he talks about, you know, all the specifics of that, that it may have been. Power of a bullet and revolver and all this other things [01:12:00] that are interesting, but the idea being that because he was smaller, he couldn't just go in with brute force.
He had to think about a strategy that would work given his, his abilities and given his size and given it, but the idea that I can beat that guy is necessary in order to even have that next step of a strategy. And, you know, going to these other soccer teams, like we talked about early on, if it's almost a better, it's almost a the freedom you can play with when you're expected to lose.
Yeah. That's why you see a lot of upsets because you have nothing to lose. So you can just throw caution to the wind and you can just go out there. And, but if you have this idea that we're going to lose, it's not going to work. If you have the idea that, Hey, let's go caution the one let's go for it. We got guys who can shoot.
We've got guys on any given day, we can beat this team. Let's go for it. Right. You know, 199 times out of a hundred, they'll beat us. But right now we can do this. Let's do it. Right? Sure. That's why these things happen. And so rather than focusing on the 99, let's focus on maybe this is that one. And it might be, and it may be that the only time you play and that one happened.
[01:13:00] Awesome. Right. So, that's the flip side of the 3% chance of rain, right? Like that's the ideas, right? If it's a positive thing, Hey, there's a 3% chance it could happen. Let's go for it. Right. So. Anyway, any last kind of closing thoughts, as, as you say, if there's one thing you just want to make sure everyone gets out of this, we've talked about a lot of things and it may just be that you say, Hey, keep chugging at it.
But you know, is there something else that you want to say that you felt like if I didn't say this, I wouldn't feel like this was complete.
Brad: [01:13:26] Yeah. I, I really want people to know that if they're going through a struggle, whether that's with anxiety and depression relationships, substance abuse, whatever it may be, that they're not alone.
It is really hard right now that. Chronic stress from the pandemic is one of the hardest to deal with the acute stress or something that lasts like one or two weeks. It's brutal. It's awful, but it's short-lived and everybody understands why we're stressed. That's actually easier. What's harder is that chronic stress because we just habituate and adapt to it.
And so we kind of think like, yeah, it depends on, but what are you gonna do? But we don't [01:14:00] realize the toll it's taking on us until we are me until I get irritable with my kids or my wife, you know what I mean? Or I get really negative about something and I, and I overly focus on something negative or I'm just not having the motivation desire to work out or do to different things.
And so I just want people to know that this is really common and there are so many resources. There are so many athletes who talk about. Their struggles too. And that can sometimes help. If you've got a friend who's going through something and look for and find someone that connects with them. If that's a celebrity and athlete a family member, but just don't feel that they're not alone and there are resources to help.
And there's a lot of things we can do to support each other. Nobody goes through life alone. Anything that somebody accomplishes, it looks like they did it by themselves. Not true. Right. We have people who support us and pick us up when we struggle to do so. So I just want your listeners to know that that they're not alone, there's help out there in this show, what you're doing Phil is great.
Right. Just to have these conversations, it just, maybe that's the tenth time somebody needed to maybe go and get some support.
Phil: [01:14:59] Yeah. [01:15:00] Very good words. Thank you so much, Brad. Very, very much appreciate you being part of this conversation that is so important to have, and thank you for all the work that you're doing.
I, I very much look forward to continuing this conversation with you and, and hopefully working together in some way.
Brad: [01:15:15] Yeah, me too. So thank you so much for having me on and thanks for the work you do as well.
Phil: [01:15:20] All right, folks. Well, once again, I did say at the beginning it was going to be a great conversation.
And I think that that was actually a very true statement that was accurate as we talked about. So folks, you know, with, with all that we learned today, I do hope that you are learning. I do hope that you are having this conversation. It's not just stopping here, but you're actually having these conversations with others that you're sharing this podcast with others.
If it's helped you, I have no doubt it'll help others as well. So go ahead and share this in whatever way you share. But also, subscribe to the show. So you don't miss the future episodes and rate and review it as well, which helps it get it out to other people who are out there. But most of all right now, I just really hope that you are taking what you're learning from this show and you're [01:16:00] using it to help you become a better leader in the sports arena that you're in, in your marriages, in your parenting and your relationships that you have outside of the game.
But at the end of the day, I really hope that you can. Use what you're learning here to help you understand how soccer does explain life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.