Mind Over Sports

If you’re a coach, how often have you heard one of your players apologize to you for having had a “bad game.” But there’s no such thing as just having a bad game. There’s always a reason. Girlfriend or boyfriend problems. Financial problems. Family problems. Teammate problems. But whatever the problem, if it’s not confronted and shared openly with teammates prior to game-time, very often in a “players only team meeting,” the problem will show up on the football field in the form of dropped passes and fumbles, or it will show up on the basketball court in the form of missed shots and turn-overs. But the opposite is also true. When an athlete is happy and his/her life is in harmony, he/she will perform close to his/her skill level on a consistent basis. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs is a good example.


The Cleveland Browns Myles Garrett has been suspended for swinging at Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. Garrett maintains Rudolph used a racial slur in the final minutes of the game. But evidentially the powers who control disciplinary action in the NFL believe otherwise.

So who are you going to believe?

It reminds me of something I once read in a book by the late Israeli Child Psychologist Haim Ginott. According to Dr. Ginott, if you have two young children who get into a confrontation in their upstairs bedroom and you arrive to find out who started the problem so you can discipline the guilty child, when you ask who started the fight each blames the other. And so you have to find a way to come up with the truth. You hand each of them a blank sheet of paper with a pencil and tell them to write down exactly what happened. The one who is telling the truth will immediately vigorously begin writing his side of the story, while the one who is not telling the truth will almost always say: “That’s stupid. I’m not going to do that.” And throws the paper and pencil on the floor and stomps out of the room.

Ginott, by the way, never had children of his own, but did possess a great amount of insight and creativity.

In the summer of 1950, while attending the University of Missouri, I played basketball in the Catskills Mountains in upper state New York. Two of my teammates were from CCNY and Long Island University, both of whom were later convicted in a court of law for shaving points.
It was common at that time in the Catskills that for every game there was a pool that included a sizable amount of cash and the winner of the pool was the person who could correctly predict the total number of points that would be scored in a particular game. For example, if someone had the number 121 and the final score was 61 – 60, they won the pot. And they always shared the pot with some of better players on the team, of which I was not one. It never occurred to me at the time that some of my teammates might be controlling the outcome of the game for financial gain, but I’m sure that was the case. It was a breeding ground for their behavior later. And I recall during the end of each game the public address announcer would constantly mention the score and also mention the total number of points at that time.
As for paying players, I’m all for it. But I would put a cap of $1000 per month on the amount a player could earn so that an over-enthusiastic alumni couldn’t lure a player away from a team, or get involved in attracting a top player to a particular school by offering that player a sizable amount of money to become involved in his business as a spokesman on television, or whatever.

If you’re an NFL athlete, you should not be consuming large amounts of alcohol away from the football field.
I had an opportunity to interview Dr. Tommy Burnett who spent 40 years as a professor at Missouri State University. Dr. Burnett has a PhD in Sport Psychology and is also an expert in Sports Law and Risk Management. He told me that based on his experience and knowledge, he’s found that the consumption of alcohol interferes with an athlete’s oxygen supply making him or her more susceptible to injury. Here’s how it works: The consumption of alcohol interferes with the transportation of oxygen to the body’s muscle cells and is not being delivered to the ligaments and tendons. When the muscle fibers are deprived of oxygen, the athlete is more prone to injuries. This is pretty common knowledge among personal trainers who work on college and professional athletes but it’s a fact often hidden from public view since there is a close association of the marketing of alcoholic beverages and sports, especially professional sports. So when you read or see on television where an athlete is experiencing muscle and ligament problems, there’s a high probability that particular athlete is also consuming a substantial amount of alcohol in his or her personal life.

Ever wonder why in sports, the best and most talented team doesn’t always win? In order to explain why, let’s assume you’re a Division I mens basketball coach and your team comes from a mid-major college. And you have a game to play against one of the best teams in the country. You are also aware that the team you’re about to compete against has a 6‘11” center who scores an average of 25 points per game, which includes making 52% of his field goals and 90% of his free throws.

The game begins and you notice something’s different. The 6’11” center is missing easy shots and at half time has made only 20% of his free throws. So as head coach, you make the decision to allow him to shoot and you instruct your team to foul him often, forcing him to go to the free throw line. You realize something is wrong with his game but you’re not quite sure what. When the game ends, your team has won by 10 points and everyone is in a happy mood.

Later, you find out from someone who was in your opponents’ locker room that the 6’11” center had had an argument with his girlfriend about an hour before the game began. He didn’t tell anyone about the problem he was having, including his teammates or his coach. He withheld his feelings and emotions, not realizing that withholding was a form of lying that demeaned him and lowered his self-esteem, creating psychological baggage that affected his ability to focus.

When athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony they perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis. But when they are unhappy, and bottle up their feelings and emotions, they won’t play anywhere near their skill levels.

That’s why I’m an advocate of a two-phase program: #1, converting teams into support groups with weekly team meetings allowing players to get “things” off their chests. #2, having the team watch a power video of themselves with a special musical soundtrack that has emotional appeal. I’ve attached an example of a power video below that I helped create for the University of Missouri Men’s Basketball Team. The player featured in the video, after watching himself perform numerous times, scored 36 points, his highest point total of his career.

A belief is a powerful tool. If an athlete believes he or she will increase his or her performance by watching himself or herself on a video, it will. A baseball player who watches himself perform hitting home runs will hit home runs, assuming he has the ability to hit home runs. The video I’m recommending: http://youtu.be/CKLmxV5Bkyw.

N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

Learn how to visualize, resulting in increased performance.

PHONE: 417-773-2695

Sports related, Health related, and Business Sales related.


Welcome to Outdoor Wilderness Adventures
If you are interested in booking a hunting or fishing trip anywhere in the world, with over 800 destinations to choose from, contact Marvin Fremerman at marv@outdoorwildernessadventures.com or call 417-773-2695. We will put you in direct contact with outfitters we recommend.

If you would like to review a list of our more than 800 outfitter destinations, click through the bear that appears below.

Hunting & Fishing Trips

Click Here

Personalized Counseling

Self-esteem building workshops and positive visualization seminars for athletes, sports teams, cancer patients and at-risk youth. Also available for speaking engagements.

E-Mail Marv


Or call 417-773-2695



Buy Marv’s Books!

Contact Marv

If you would like to contact Marv directly, he may be reached at:

Marv Fremerman
Mind Over Sports
2320 West Westview Street, Unit A.
Springfield, MO 65807



Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 88 other subscribers
hit counter