'Brain Coach' to help Sounders achieve their goals

SEATTLE -- Playing any sport at all requires a lot of practice. There are drills and weightlifting, practices and scrimmages.

But a Seattle native said it's the 5 inches between your ears that's just as important as your arms or legs on the field.

Success at any sport is much more than physical conditioning. Just ask Seattle Sounders Midfielder, Lamar Neagle.

"I have confidence issues on the field," he said.

Neagle said he had been traded so often, he lost confidence in his abilities. Then he started working with Jim Madrid.

Madrid, speaking at one his seminars, explained, "By the way, the brain is a muscle and you need to exercise it. Training the mind is just as important as training the body."

Neagle says he was something he definitely had to work on a lot more than my physical game. "For me I think my mental game is huge for me."

Madrid works not just with Neagle, but the entire Sounders team, on the mental side of the game.

"You can be the best athlete in the world and if you don't have the mental toughness -- the mental side of the game they say is 90 percent," said Sounders goalie Marcus Hahnemann. "You're talking about thing you can't really quantify."

So Madrid works with them on their vision and goal setting to build mental toughness and have it translate to real results on the field.

"Sounders player Brad Evans plays with his goals in his sock," Madrid said. "And Will Blackman with the Jacksonville Jaguars; I called him up after a great game that he had. He got two interceptions, he caused a fumble, picked the ball up and ran in for a touchdown. And he said, 'they're in my sock.' And I said, 'what?' (and) he said, 'my goals, they're in my sock.' "

Madrid said Blackman had literally written out his goals of causing a fumble, running in for a touchdown and getting an interception and tucked it away.

Seeing so much success with both professional and college athletes, Madrid started focusing his attention on kids. There are 44 million children who play organized sports -- it's a $7 billion a year industry.

"It drives me nuts when I hear coaches, you know, from the sideline, say, 'Get your head in the game,' " said Rick Brown. "And I ask myself, 'how are you teaching that?' "

Brown, a coach, dad and member of Madrid's team said they're building that foundation as young as kindergarten. And he said they work with coaches too, to make sure they know how to help kids achieve mental toughness.

"We've just had resounding results," said Diana Bowers.

Bower shelped get Madrid to present his program on the Eastside back in January. They hoped to have 20 kids sign up -- they finally had to cap it at 40.

All three of Bowers' children completed the course. She said she noticed a change in her children right away and she said other parents have too.

"It was immediate," she said. "I got so many comments not just from my kids but I got so many mails from parents telling me that their kids came home and said thank you so much for enrolling us in this program. And keep in mind these are kids from the ages of 10-, 11-, 12-year-olds."

So what are these kids learning that have them making their beds, cleaning their rooms and doing their homework, all without any nagging?

Madrid teaches 7 Fundamentals of Mental Toughness:

* Vision Drives Performance
* Open Your Eyes, Open Your Mind
* Broad Comfort Zones = Room to Move
* What You Say is What You Get
* Goals Keep You Growing
* Keeping Cool Mean Controlling Focus
* Teamwork Wins

"It works," Brown said. "It creates great change. It creates great change in school and with scholar athletes."

Madrid said, "You get to invent your future, because if you don't somebody else will."

Madrid's goal is to take his program to 500,000 kids across the country and he says he believes it can really make a difference. For instance, Madrid said there are 4,400 juvenile offense committed every day; that's 183 per minute and 30 percent of those happen after school.

Madrid said sports can help prevent some of those, so his mission continues to give kids the mental skills and life skills that will impact their lives forever on and off the field of play.

When asked the cost of giving this knowledge and power to kids, Madrid said the cost is only about as much a parent would spend on a really good pair of shoes or a great bat and glove.

For more information:

Advance Sports Technology