Sports Agent White Paper


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Want to be the best you can be? You've got to think it to win it! Contact John Ellsworth, Master Mental Game Coach and Sports Psychology Consultant.

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Sports Agent White Paper

  1. 1. Sports Psychology in the Sports Management Business – Managing ExpectationsJohn Ellsworth,© 2007 Protex Sports and John Ellsworth
  2. 2. The information contained in this document represents the current view of Protex Sports on the issues discussed asof the date of publication. Because Protex Sports must respond to changing market conditions, it should not beinterpreted to be a commitment on the part of Protex Sports, and Protex Sports cannot guarantee the accuracy ofany information presented after the date of publication.This White Paper is for informational purposes only. Protex Sports MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS, IMPLIEDOR STATUTORY, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT.Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights undercopyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, ortransmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for anypurpose, without the express written permission of Protex Sports, specifically John Ellsworth.Protex Sports may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rightscovering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from ProtexSports, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, orother intellectual property._______________________________________________________________________© 2007 Protex Sports and John Ellsworth Page 2
  3. 3. IntroductionIn 1996, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Tom Cruise glamorized the ultra-competitive field ofsports agents and athletes on the cusp of athletic stardom. While the plot line of JerryMcGuire focused mainly on the personal crisis of Tom Cruises character, it alsoprovided some insight into the highly competitive industry of sports representation.One part business manager, one part master negotiator, real world sports agents aresavvy investors who must be able to quickly identify raw and unknown talent, generatebuzz around an aspiring pro athlete, and negotiate the best deals with teams andendorsement opportunities. For many sports agents finding athletic talent is simple;however, leveraging that talent is the challenging part.Todays sports agent must be more than a great business manager to attract top talent.Athletes want and need someone to manage their careers and their lifestyles. Sportsagents who can take the leap from talent and business management to lifestyle andcareer coaches can quickly find themselves in unfamiliar territory.The Sports Agent and the Athlete – A Merger of Talent and NegotiationPowerThe role of the sports agency, and hence the sports agent, historically has focusedprimarily on scouting raw talent and then, over a period of time, marketing athletes toprospective big league teams. Sports agents have assisted in contract negotiations,observing industry trends and legal regulations, financial planning and management aswell as in the transitional phase between athlete and the corporate world.The sports agent of the future must focus equally on managing the lifestyles of theirathletes to maximize earning potential and creating better strategies to overcomeinevitable obstacles as well as encourage athletes to become mentors to upcomingtalent. The movement from business and talent management to lifestyle and careermanagement provides more opportunities for athletes and the sports agent.Athletes require a liaison with extensive negotiating experience who is intimatelyfamiliar with industry trends such as average contracts amounts and endorsementmanagement. For most athletes, their passion is their sport and their career aspirationsand goals are set incredibly high. All they want to do is get the contract and then moveforward into a professional career without the hassles and stress of being a free agent.Athletes work with sports agents because they want to leverage their earning potentialby seeking the expertise of a skills negotiator who understands the dynamics of a sportscareer and who can market talent to the best sports organizations.Sports agents, on the other hand, competitively scout for new break-out talent. Theyare driven by two main influencers: establishing a name within the industry and most_______________________________________________________________________© 2007 Protex Sports and John Ellsworth Page 3
  4. 4. importantly, earning commission from large multi-million dollar contracts. The hope isthat as they attract or discover better talent and negotiate larger deals they will buildname recognition, increase earning power, earn higher commissions and, of course,generate significant profits for the sports agency.The merger of athlete talent and agent negotiation skills is a powerful force that, ifsuccessfully managed, can result in big outcomes. As many sports agents quicklydiscover, however, being the middleman can be challenging, especially when athletegoals and team objectives arent properly aligned.Gap Analysis—The Void Between Performance, Negotiation and theDecision-MakerAs athletes transition from passionate athletes to aspiring professionals, many strugglewith high expectations concerning potential earnings, performance instability, and evennegative behaviors. These are all factors that would likely not exist during the mostcritical time periods of an athletes professional career if it were not for the stress anduncertainty of the contract negotiation process.The anxiety, anticipation, and desire to achieve specific, and often unrealistic,contractual outcomes frequently weigh heavily on the performances of an athlete on thefast track to sports superstardom. Many an athlete has fallen short of his or her earningpotential due to inferior performance triggered by worry, lack of focus, and decliningself-confidence.For sports agents, the most important period of the negotiation process is often whenathletic performance is at less than optimal levels. This creates an obstacle for sportsagents because they want to position an athlete to win the best contract possible.Instead of working to negotiate the best outcome, sports agents are often placed in arole where they must straddle the fence between acknowledging the flaws in an athletesperformance and effectively negotiating with team management to gain the best dealpossible.Factors which influence the negotiation process are tightly based around teammanagements perception of the athletes potential. In other words, how will the athletehelp the team increase its fan base, win more championships, build corporatesponsorships, and increase profits for the franchise. The athlete is either viewed as anasset or liability, which sways the negotiation table.The key element in contract negotiation is, ultimately, performance. Team managersreview the athletes stamina to withstand stress, performance consistently, and achievecritical sports objectives. If an athlete is only physically prepared for a sports career, itfalls on the shoulders of the sports agent to build the mental toughness of the athlete._______________________________________________________________________© 2007 Protex Sports and John Ellsworth Page 4
  5. 5. Athletic Performance—The Deal Maker or BreakerSports agents are familiar with the athlete who looks good during the recruiting processbut crumbles under the pressure of team negotiations. Spotting the warning signs oftroubled athletes then becomes an important job function of the sports agent to makethe best use of agent time, resources, and efforts as well as to help athletes buildstronger performances.When field practice and life coaching arent improving performance, sports agents needto look elsewhere to uncover the problems hindering peak performance. Recognizingthe early signs of mental obstacles that impede performance can: • Stop unhealthy thoughts/beliefs/attitudes that impede performance. • Drastically improve performance by building the mental stamina to stay focused, remain in control, and boost confidence. • Demonstrate to team management that the athlete has the mental endurance to survive in highly competitive and stressful environments. • Establish champion mindsets early in the sports career. This can help to overcome challenges in the career such as dealing with an injury or a team transition and may even circumvent unhealthy behaviors (i.e. drug and steroid use) to improve performance.Symptoms of mental obstacles that impede athletic performance can be difficult todiagnose because no athlete suffers from just one single challenge. In fact, most athleteshave a number of issues which hinder optimal performances. Trouble with mentalstamina often manifests itself in the following ways: 1) An athlete performs better in practice than in competition, or when under the pressure to perform in front of recruiters, scouts, team management, etc. 2) An athlete seems to be holding back, playing tentatively or with reservations. For example, a basketball player avoids making long shots or a motocross racer hangs on the inside to protect his position. 3) An athlete appears to be distracted by other players, relies too much on your input or others (such as parents or a spouse). 4) An athlete dwells on performance errors, imperfections or mistakes; or who obsesses on form. For example, a football player wants a perfect punt or a golfer wants the perfect putt._______________________________________________________________________© 2007 Protex Sports and John Ellsworth Page 5
  6. 6. 5) An athlete demands a perfect or flawless performance and has specific, and often unrealistic, outcome expectations. For example, a pitcher expects to have a no-hit inning. 6) An athlete has difficulty overcoming challenges such as a bad call, an opponent who gets in their face, an annoying heckler, an injury, etc.When agents notice any of these symptoms or suspect that there is more toperformance issues, it is time to find the real culprit. The best place to start is toevaluate potential problems stemming from poor mental endurance.Mental Toughness—The Secret "Weapon" of Champion AthletesThere is one common factor that leads athletes like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan,Mario Andretti, Lance Armstrong, and others to greatness. The key to their success liesin their mental toughness. Granted, these athletes train hard and play hard. But theyalso know how to leverage the power of their thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes to givethem an edge over their competition.Mental toughness training, also known as sports psychology, is the secret weapon ofchampion athletes. Learning how to leverage thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs thatinfluence performance is the most important factor leading to consistent performances.When athletes learn how to channel only healthy thoughts and release unhealthy ones,performance is optimized. Athletes learn, for example, how to: • Improve focus Athletes learn to focus on and enjoy the process of the sport. Laser sharp concentration produces stronger performances (especially during times of stress) because the athlete learns how to turn on the process and tune out distractions. • Establish realistic expectations Setting high, but obtainable goals helps athletes to relax, calms nerves, and allows athletes to perform more freely. This prevents tentative or protective performances and highlights the actual talent capabilities of the athletes. • Boost confidence When athletes learn to trust in their abilities and believe they have the skills to execute well, they worry less about how others perceive their performances, dont obsess on perfection, and focus on the process rather than the outcome. This leads to better performances even when competition is fierce._______________________________________________________________________© 2007 Protex Sports and John Ellsworth Page 6
  7. 7. • Quickly regain composure No matter how talented the athlete, adversity and obstacles are part of sports. A bad call, an angry opponent, or a mistake in execution can swiftly alter performances. Learning how to quickly spring back when faced with unexpected challenges is the difference between a good athlete and a great one!While it is clear that mental toughness training has many benefits to the athlete, thereare also many advantages which sports agents will appreciate as well. Improving themental stamina of athletes assists sports agents by: • Ensuring consistent performances Since the demand for consistent top performance is demanded by team management, helping an athlete to demonstrate the ability to perform well despite the stress of the negotiation table helps to differentiate your athlete from others fighting for the same chance at a professional athletic career. • Building mentally healthy athletes Athletes with higher mental stamina are better able equipped to adapt to change, handle adversity, and enjoy the sport and the thrill of the win. • Quickly identifying the best athletes Sports agents invest significant time and resources into building an athletic career. While there is no crystal ball to see into the future and know for certain what lies ahead, knowing how to spot steady performers and differentiate troubled super-stars can be the key to picking the best candidates to pursue.Tools of the Savvy Sports AgentSports agents who want to identify, select, and market the best athletes to reap therewards of the field need tools and resources. The following are recommended toolsto ensure that top performers reach their optimal performance: • Assessments for athletes Troubleshooting mental toughness issues by evaluating symptoms is a good start to understanding the obstacles that hinder performance. However, an assessment is better since it helps to identify performance strengths and opportunities where improvement can be made. • Partnering with a sports psychology expert or mental toughness coach Mental toughness coaches can help athletes work through issues both in and outside of the sports arena. They can look for personal issues (such as_______________________________________________________________________© 2007 Protex Sports and John Ellsworth Page 7
  8. 8. problems with relationships or finances) that are causing distractions and impacting confidence. In addition, mental toughness coaches can discover personality styles that create perfectionism tendencies and formulate a plan to work through the challenges. • Access to the latest mental toughness techniques Keeping abreast of new strategies that motivate athletes, help them cope with adversity, or work to improve performance without long hours in practice is crucial in retaining the best athletes. • Building a mental game toolbox Assembling an arsenal of tools that can help athletes include: motivational quotes from other athletes, positive self-talk statements that emphasize a "can-do" attitude, tracking successes with a success journal, or establishing "check points" to catch problems early before they become major issues.Todays sports agent wears many hats and plays many roles in the lives of aspiringprofessional athletes. Establishing competitive differentiation starts with the ability toidentify the best talent and make sure that these athletes optimize their performance toleverage their earning power.About John EllsworthJohn holds a Masters Degree in counseling psychology with a specialization in sportspsychology and is presently a doctoral candidate in the field. John brings a multifacetedapproach to the mental aspects of sports and health. Combined with his expertise inclinical and applied sports psychology, John has extensive experience coaching highschool and college teams, teaching, and consulting with professional, elite, college, highschool, and middle school athletes. In addition, John’s personal success in professionalbaseball and amateur sports is testament to his ability to apply the concepts he teaches:goal setting, perseverance, life balance, belief in self, and mastery of the mental game.John is a member of AASP, NASPSPA, APA Division 47, and CAMFT.For more information, please visit: www.protexsports.com_______________________________________________________________________© 2007 Protex Sports and John Ellsworth Page 8