Mind Over Sports

Mizzou coach Mike Anderson and the Kiss

Posted on: February 18, 2007

coach-mike-andersonIt’s amazing what a small kiss can do. And what it means. The Kansas City Star reported how the University of Missouri-Columbia Head Coach Mike Anderson handled a situation involving one of his top players : “With just under four minutes to play and Stefhon Hannah putting Missouri’s 75-64 upset of Oklahoma State in jeopardy with a traveling call, you knew what was going to take place in the MU huddle. ‘Man, he ate him,’ MU’s Keon Lawrence said of coach Mike Anderson’s interaction with Hannah during the ensuing timeout. ‘He was all over him.’ But as the timeout ended, Anderson gave Hannah a kiss. ‘Right there,’ Lawrence said, motioning to his temple. Such is the relationship between head coach and junior point guard at Mizzou. Anderson makes a habit, it seems, of tearing down Hannah. But he doesn’t leave him there, bereft of encouragement. ‘Yeah, he did,’ Hannah said, confirming The Kiss. But, Hannah added: ‘I want to put this on the record. He punched me in the locker room, too. He says it’s like a family. I look at him like a dad.'”

This is just another example of how, when players know their coach genuninely loves them and cares about them, he (or she) can get in their face and they’ll never complain. If more coaches had the relationship with their players that Mike Anderson has with his, their programs would be a lot more successful. I’m reminded of the time a few years back in 1987 when I interviewed Kevin Rooney, who was then Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson’s trainer. I asked Rooney about his relationship with Tyson. Those were the years when Tyson was in top form. I asked him why, just before every fight, Tyson would kiss him on the cheek. Rooney replied with a chuckle: “I don’t know, it’s just good luck.” Was there any significance to the kiss? “Well, there’s been a lot of hard work,” Rooney said, “training and getting ready, and I want him to know that I’m with him. Though I’m not in there taking the punches at that second with him, but I’m there for him. And it’s just, more or less, become a tradition thing now. So it really conveys that closeness, I guess.” It’s too bad Tyson didn’t stay with Rooney. His life might have been different. Especially after the death of his father figure, Cus D’Amato.

Note: If you are an athlete and want to find out if you are performing close to your skill level on a consistent basis, take the “Self-Esteem Survey” Test while visiting this website. There’s a close relationship between athletic performance and feelings of self-worth.

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