Mind Over Sports

Archive for August 2012

I’ve been following Vince Young’s career since his days at the University of Texas and always thought he would excel in the NFL. So it was quite a surprise to me to see where he had been released by the Buffalo Bills shortly after general manager Buddy Nix completed a trade with the Seattle Seahawks for quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Young was the third overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Tennessee Titans. Since I’m not privy to what’s going on in Young’s personal life it’s possible he has some issues that are affecting his performance. But it’s also possible that he has a problem with one of his coaches, and since coaches seem to always have the last word, Vince’s days with the Bills were numbered. I recall that quote by former MLB manager Whitey Herzog who said that very often a team releases a player when they should have replaced the player’s coach. That’s why I believe the coaching staff with Kansas City Chiefs might be just what the doctor ordered if they were to sign Young as backup quarterback. And it wouldn’t surprise me to see him become the starting quarterback after a short time. He might be just what the Chiefs need.

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I’ve been reading former major league baseball player Doug Glanville’s excellent book “The Game From Where I Stand” and didn’t realize how many professional baseball players are “stalked” (my word, not his) by young alluring females attempting to hook up with them and possibly even marry them. Some players are more susceptible to their overtures than others. And when you read in the media that a particular player made two errors in one game, such as Kansas City’s shortstop Alcides Escobar did yesterday, it makes you wonder what outside forces were at work. It’s tough enough for professional baseball players to focus on their work, but when there are outside distractions, such as young women stalking them, it makes their job even tougher. And if they are married, it can be even more devastating to their performance.

Here’s an interesting video you might like to see. PGA Golfer Sean Saunders interviewed me about how The psi Factor relates to golf. Click through the link below.

http://www.swsgolf.com/2012/08/week-12-link-the-psi-factor/

Now don’t get me wrong.  The perfect game that Felix Hernandez pitched against the Tampa Bay Rays was something special. But one has to wonder if there’s anything going on behind the scenes with the Rays since he became the fourth pitcher in four years to no-hit them. As the late great manager Casey Stengel once said: “Most ball games are lost, not won.” Is it possible that the Rays lost the game more than Hernandez won it? Here are some of the reasons major league ballplayers often don’t perform up to their skill levels; why they’re not focused and often strike out at the plate: They are being unfaithful to their wives, they are smoking pot, anger at a teammate, anger at a coach, finding out your girlfriend is pregnant, family problems at home, financial problems and problems with a girlfriend. This was the sixth no-hitter this season and one has to wonder if many of the players are dealing with issues. As I’ve always maintained, what takes place away from the baseball diamond affects what takes place on the baseball diamond.

When you withhold…that is, keep your feelings and issues bottled up inside yourself…it’s a form of lying that demeans you and creates baggage that affects your ability to focus. But when you are honest and go public, you’ll be much happier and your performance level will increase. A good example was reported in today’s USA Today:

“It’s telling that the day before the U.S. women’s soccer team played Japan in the gold medal game, Megan Rapinoe’s sexual orientation was no big deal. In the most recent issue of Out, Rapinoe announced publicly that she is gay, becoming the first prominent American soccer player to come out in the media.

‘I lived my life pretty open before that, but it was just nice to be out there and be proud about it,’ Rapinoe said. Perhaps being open about her sexuality has helped her game, she says. ‘I guess it seems like a weight off my shoulders: I’m playing a lot better than I’ve ever played before. But I think I’m just enjoying myself and I’m happy,’ she said.”

Rapinoe has been a difference-maker for the USA throughout the Games. In the team’s dramatic 4-3 semifinal victory against Canada in overtime, the midfielder scored the team’s first two goals.

It’s easy to point the finger of blame when the outcome of a sporting event isn’t what you expected it to be, but I believe the USOC is primarily responsible for our athletes not bringing home more medals, and here’s why: If you google the US Olympic Committee website you’ll see they have a “sport psychology professional team” and they use sport psychologists who are members of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP). And here are some of the things they teach their athletes: Develop and maintain a good attitude; dealing with (minor) distractions; expecting the unexpected; develop and stick to your routine; consider whether to attend opening ceremonies; opening ceremonies – energizing or energy sapping? The influence of family and friends; dealing with the Olympic Village; and being ready to handle the media. Nowhere on their website did I find any mention or reference to helping athletes who are experiencing personal problems and issues in the lives. And the reason for this is that sport psychologists are not allowed to do so or they could lose their license since that is the domain of the clinical psychologist or the licensed counselor. Now it’s possible the USOC employs some clinical psychologists and licensed counselors but I wasn’t able to find any listed. Only sport psychologists. And though it’s true that the USOC believes that psychological preparation is key to Olympic performance, evidently they don’t consider personal issues and problems falling into that category.


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