Listen or read about the journey of ex-gambler Michael Huber, who turned into a mental performance coach. Let’s uncover valuable insights on athlete development, mindset, and the future of mental performance coaching in sports. Don’t miss this inspiring episode that could change your perspective on success. You find the full episode here.
The All in the Addicted Gamblers podcast featured mental performance coach Michael Huber, who overcame a gambling addiction and dedicated his life to helping athletes succeed. The discussion focused on his journey, the Freshman Foundation podcast, the role of parents and coaches in athlete development, and the impact of technology on mental performance coaching. The podcast highlights the importance of addressing mental aspects in sports and the growing demand for professionals like Michael.
Top 5 takeaways
- Michael Huber overcame gambling addiction and became a mental performance coach, supporting young athletes.
- The Freshman Foundation podcast addresses the challenges athletes face transitioning from high school to college.
- Parents and coaches play a crucial role in fostering a positive mindset and encouraging growth in young athletes.
- Technology has expanded the reach of mental performance coaching and provided valuable tools for monitoring and enhancing athlete performance.
- The demand for mental performance coaching is expected to grow as its importance in sports continues to be recognized.
All in the Addicted Gamblers podcast with Brian and Jeff spoke to Michael Huber, a mental performance coach and host of the Freshman Foundation podcast. He’s also an advisor to Epic Risk Management’s US operations. Michael, originally from New York, started gambling at 12 and his addiction persisted into adulthood.
The Early Days of Michael’s Gambling Addiction
While studying at Michigan State University, Michael’s gambling habits worsened as he frequented Mount Pleasant and Windsor casinos. He also enjoyed betting on horse racing. His passion for horse racing began in his youth, with regular visits to tracks like Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga. As a number enthusiast, Michael delved into racing forms and handicapping books, aspiring to become a professional gambler.
Michael’s gambling addiction reached a breaking point in 2012 when he experienced a panic attack. It prompted him to seek therapy. It took him a month to confess his gambling problem to his therapist. The admission led him to attend his first Gamblers Anonymous (GA) meeting in July 2012, ending his 25-year gambling career.
Initially attending GA meetings in Brooklyn, Michael eventually found a more relatable community in Manhattan. He connected with people in their 30s and 40s who also had successful careers. Michael’s last bet took place on October 3rd, 2012, and he has been free from gambling for over ten years.
Brian asked Michael how recovery influenced his career path, to which Michael responded that it accounted for 95% of his current success. As a child, he dreamt of pursuing a career in sports, but it didn’t seem practical. He majored in political economy and worked for the government for some time. After several years in recovery, he began to believe in himself, and with the help of career coaches, he changed his career.
Michael left his job and returned to school, eventually establishing his own practice, and they are focused on helping others. It’s a gift he attributes to his recovery journey.
The Freshman Foundation Podcast
When Brian enquired about the Freshman Foundation podcast, Michael explained that it revolves around understanding the transition from high school to college athletics, a challenging period for many. The podcast features coaches, athletes, and mental performance experts who share their experiences and insights.
Jeff and Michael discussed the prevalence of gambling among athletes. Michael agreed that research indicates athletes are more likely to gamble than non-athletes. They touched on the dangers of fantasy sports as a form of gambling, with Michael sharing his experience.
As a part of college athletics, Michael’s responsibility lies in educating athletes about integrity and the potential consequences of cooperating with gamblers or sharing information that could compromise the integrity of their sport.
Mental Performance Coaching
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael’s mental performance coaching business has grown as parents and families search for ways to help their athletes develop their mental game without traditional in-person sporting activities. Michael primarily works with high school athletes aged 14 to 19, eager to advance in their chosen sport.
Michael’s coaching approach has been well received, garnering positive feedback from both athletes and parents. However, he acknowledges that his methods may not work for everyone. To maintain trust throughout the coaching process, Michael ensures strict confidentiality between himself and the athlete, communicating with coaches or parents only if explicitly requested by the client.
Perfectionism and the “Chimp Brain”
Brian asked Michael about his observations working with young athletes, particularly regarding their fears, anxieties, and aspirations. Michael explained that the most common attribute he noticed was perfectionism or the fear of making mistakes. This mindset often leads athletes to focus on negative outcomes, undermining their confidence and performance.
Michael’s work primarily involves helping these athletes gain perspective, focusing on process-oriented goals rather than result-oriented ones, and highlighting the positives in their performance. He emphasized that this perfectionism is not exclusive to athletes but is ingrained in human nature and society.
Michael referred to an interesting concept from a book called ” The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion“, which discusses the “chimp brain” – the part of our mind that reacts faster and more negatively to protect us from potential harm. The “professor brain” is our mind’s logical and rational side. Michael explained that internal and external sources, such as our thoughts, parents, coaches, and teachers, often feed negativity to our “chimp brain”. In his work, he tries to help athletes reprogram their minds to focus on the positives and put negative aspects into context, ultimately empowering them to improve where they have control.
When asked about evaluating athletes’ physical abilities, Michael said his primary focus is observing their responses, body language, facial expressions, attitude, energy, effort, coachability, and communication. Although he acknowledged that athleticism is an important factor, he argued that it is often overrated and can sometimes be a crutch for athletes. Intelligence, motivation, hard work, and coachability can also contribute to athletic success.
Michael’s Work with Epic Risk Management
As part of the Epic Risk Management team, Michael’s primary goal is to spread awareness about the dangers of problem gambling and share his lived experience. He aims to help athletes, coaching staff, and administrators understand the consequences of their choices and provide support through the challenges they face. He finds great reward in being a trusted figure for athletes, offering guidance and support in difficult times.
Michael’s work highlights the importance of mental performance coaching and focusing on process-oriented goals rather than obsessing over results. By helping athletes develop a healthier mindset, he enables them to build resilience, enhance their performance, and ultimately lead more fulfilling lives on and off the field.
The Role of Parents and Coaches in Athlete Development
Parents and coaches play a significant role in the development of young athletes. Michael emphasized the importance of creating a supportive and encouraging environment that fosters growth and resilience. Parents and coaches can help young athletes overcome challenges, build self-esteem, and develop their skills
by providing constructive feedback and fostering a culture of continuous learning.
Parents and coaches need to be mindful of their language and communication, as their words can impact an athlete’s mindset. Encouraging a growth mindset and focusing on effort, learning, and improvement can foster a positive attitude toward sports and personal development.
Technology and Mental Performance Coaching
Technology has increasingly become a significant factor in sports and mental performance coaching. Michael acknowledged the role of technology in facilitating remote coaching sessions, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital platforms have allowed coaches like Michael to reach a broader audience and support athletes who may not have access to in-person coaching services.
The use of technology in sports has also led to the development of various tools and applications that can help monitor and enhance athlete performance. These tools can provide valuable insights into an athlete’s physical and mental performance, allowing coaches and athletes to develop targeted strategies for improvement.
As the importance of mental performance coaching continues to be recognized in sports, there is likely to be an increased demand for professionals like Michael, who can provide specialized support to athletes. Integrating mental performance coaching into training programs and the ongoing development of technology will create new opportunities for coaches and athletes to work together to achieve their goals.
Michael Huber’s inspiring story, as shared on the All in the Addicted Gamblers podcast, showcases the transformative power of overcoming personal challenges and using that experience to help others. By addressing the mental aspects of sports and offering guidance to athletes, coaches, and parents, mental performance coaching is essential to athletic success. As technology continues to evolve, this field will undoubtedly expand, creating new opportunities and further enhancing the lives of athletes.