Mind Over Sports

ONE OF THE REASONS COACH GARY PINKEL WAS SO SUCCESSFUL.

Posted on: February 22, 2016

I’ve never been a huge fan of retired Mizzou Football Coach Gary Pinkel, especially after one of his players, linebacker Aaron O’Neal, died in 2005 following a voluntary workout with his teammates and was not rushed to the hospital. But when I received my Spring 2016 copy of MIZZOU MAGAZINE (I’m an alumni) it included an interesting article about coach Pinkel that pointed out how he and his team grieved and how “the tragedy united his players and coaching staff and inspired self-reflection.” The article also mentioned that “to help encourage team bonding, Pinkel instituted ‘cross-over dinners,’ during which combinations of units – offensive linemen and defensive backs, for example – dine together and open up about their personal lives.” It’s this “opening-up” that enhances a player’s self-esteem and thereby enhances performance. Athletes who don’t “open-up” and keep their feelings and issues bottled-up are those athletes who are prone to making mental errors during competition. No wonder he won 118 games while at Mizzou.

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