Mind Over Sports

Archive for March 2010

Post Masters Entry: Tiger didn’t win and from my perspective it’s a sure sign that he has yet to make up with his wife, Elin.  In fact, according to some reports, Tiger and Elin will soon be filing for divorce, which, if true, will be good for Tiger and his game, assuming he is awarded liberal visiting privileges with his children.

Original Entry:

Will Tiger Woods win the Masters?  This is not such an easy question to answer since there are many factors to consider.  First, based on past history, those athletes who have undergone extensive psychotherapy have elevated their game to a new level. For example, NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde was ordered to undergo counseling therapy by the judge as part of his divorce settlement when he first signed with Tampa Bay right out of college, and it did wonders for his game.  Second, if Tiger has definitely made up with his wife, and their lives are in harmony, he will win big.  But if he and his wife have not made up, it’s still possible he will win since he has such a huge reservoir of talent.  A good example is Mickey Mantle.  After he retired and just prior to his death, Mantle observed that had he known he was going to live as long as he did, he would have taken better care of himself.  We can only imagine what levels his game would have reached had he had a physical training program similar to Tigers.  And so, the question is: Will Tiger win the Masters?  I think there’s a good possibility he will.  I believe he will start slowly but will pick up steam and be in a position to win come Sunday.  But if he doesn’t win and plays poorly, that’s a sure sign that his life is still in disharmony and that even though he’s undergone therapy, until he makes up with his wife and his life is in harmony, he will not perform well.  And if he continues to not perform well on the course, a divorce settlement with liberal visiting privileges for him with his children can’t be far behind.  And that’s when his game should definitely take a turn for the better because what takes place off the golf course affects what takes place on the golf course.

Immediately after Tiger Woods’ personal life was made public, Eddie George, former running back for the Tennessee Titans, was asked on television if he thought there were many NFL players who were also having extra-marital affairs and he sheepishly nodded yes. When asked what percentage, he said: “Ninety percent.” If this is true, and there’s no reason to believe it isn’t, then I can assure you that 90% of all NFL players are not performing anywhere near their skill levels. Here’s why: when an NFL athlete is withholding regarding his personal life, it’s a form of lying that demeans him and lowers his self-esteem. When his self-esteem is lowered, he takes fewer risks in interpersonal relationships and creates psychological baggage for himself that affects his ability to focus and process information. This lack of focusing shows up in dropped passes, missed blocks, fumbles, interceptions and other mental errors during competition. If I were working with an NFL team, I would recommend to the head coach that he give his players 90 days to straighten out their lives. And if they didn’t, they would be suspended without pay until they did. Many team owners believe that if you pay an athlete enough money, he will perform up to his ability. Not true. Athletes are human beings just like the rest of us mortals. When their lives are in disharmony, and they are lying, it absolutely affects their performance, no matter how much money they are being paid.

It depends.  But I believe there’s a good chance they will and here’s why.  In today’s USA Today there was an article about All-American Damion James, and how James helped Head Coach Rick Barnes change his approach to coaching.  According to the article, “The coach used to curse when trying to make his point.  It wasn’t helping James come out of a slump last season, which Barnes realized in a one-on-one meeting when James reluctantly told him the cursing bothered him.  Barnes says he hasn’t cursed since.”

This is similar to a situation that existed with NFL Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow when he played for the University of Missouri. A wide receiver’s coach kept getting in his face, yelling and screaming at him.  This didn’t sit well with Kellen.  But rather than confront the coach he bottled up his feelings, not realizing the damage he was doing to his own sense of self-worth.  He stopped going to class and almost flunked out of school.  But then he learned the importance of speaking up when team trainer Fred Wopple called a private meeting between Kellen and the assistant coach.  Kellen told the assistant coach he didn’t appreciate his yelling and screaming in his face and the assistant coach immediately apologized, promising it would not happen again.  Kellen went on to be a superstar.

Now the question is: Has Coach Barnes applied the same principle when dealing with the entire team?  That is, allowing them to vent their feelings and talk about issues in a team meeting.  If yes, then Final Four here they come. If not, it will be short run in the Big Dance.


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