Mind Over Sports

Archive for December 2010

I watched the new HBO documentary about Vince Lombardi recently and was amazed to find that many of the things I preach to teams and coaches he actually practiced. For example, when players realize their coach cares about them as human beings first and then as athletic performers, they play their hearts out for him or her. Lombardi absolutely cared about and loved his players. And he showed it. Successful coaches often tap into their players’ belief systems and allow them to make important calls at crucial stages of a game. Lombardi allowed Brett Starr to call the final play of the “Ice Bowl” when he scored the winning touchdown. Successful coaches create positive expectations for their players, and these positive expectations often become self-fulfilling prophecies. Lombardi did that with many of his players, letting them know what he thought they were capable of achieving, on and off the field of competition. Lombardi had strong religious beliefs that he followed his entire life. Lombardi had no time for people who were racists. He demonstrated this when he gave his blessing to an inter-racial marriage for one of his black players, something unheard of at that time. And finally, Lombardi had a major stressful issue in his life that he was unable to control and I believe it was the stress from this issue that impaired his immune system and resulted in his being diagnosed with cancer, resulting in his early death at age 57. His wife was an alcoholic.

No wonder Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress was replaced by Leslie Frazier. The problem between Childress and Quarterback Favre was simple and Terry Bradshaw said it best. That it was smart for new Vikings Head Coach Frazier not to make Favre run plays he didn’t like, which is what Childress must have been doing. The result: Favre passed for 172 yards with no interceptions and the Vikings beat the Redskins, 17-13.

In the case of LeBron James and Miami Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra, James complained that Spoelstra played him too many minutes during a loss to the Boston Celtics. A meeting was held the next day between James and Spoelstra and everything was smoothed over. But most importantly, after last Saturday’s loss, James and Dwayne Wade closed the locker room for a 40-minute, players-only meeting. Team spokesman Tim Donovan termed it “productive,” which is probably an understatement. Because of that meeting, allowing everyone to air their feelings, watch for the Heat to win most of their games during the coming weeks.


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