Mind Over Sports


Posted on: September 22, 2009

Athletes who withhold (bottle-up) their feelings and emotions create psychological baggage for themselves that negatively affects their performance. For example, and I’m using this only as a hypothetical situation, let’s assume that just prior to the New England Patriots-Buffalo Bills game Monday night, September 14th, 2009, the Bills’ Leodis McKelvin had an argument with his girlfriend or a coach or his business agent but didn’t tell anyone about it. He chose to keep everything inside himself. With Buffalo leading 24-19 and just 1:58 remaining in the game, rather than taking a knee in the end zone he chose to return it instead and fumbled the ball around the 30 yard line, his second fumble of the game. New England then scored for what turned out to be the winning touchdown and won the game, 25-24. I’m not saying that McKelvin had issues, since I’m not privy to what goes on behind the scenes or in the Bills’ locker room, but his performance (two fumbles) was an indication that something was not right.leodis_mckelvin_inside
When athletes are not focused and are not thinking clearly, they are more prone to making mental errors. In the NFL this often shows up when a quarterback throws multiple interceptions (as Kurt Warner once did when his wife Brenda was having an ongoing argument with the St. Louis Rams’ then head coach Mike Martz), or a wide receiver dropping multiple passes that hit him on the numbers, or a lineman exploding in anger at the opposing player but when you scratch the surface you find that his anger had little or nothing to do with the game. A good example of this was what happened with Albert Haynesworth when he was playing for the Titians. As a result of his on-the-field behavior, he was not only fined but was also required to undergo extensive counseling and afterwards commented: “Honestly, it’s helping. I can actually talk about stuff. My wife likes it, too. I actually open up and talk about problems I have.” Today, Haynesworth is considered one of the top defensive linemen in the NFL.


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