Mind Over Sports

Why the best team doesn’t always win.

Posted on: November 13, 2019

Ever wonder why in sports, the best and most talented team doesn’t always win? In order to explain why, let’s assume you’re a Division I mens basketball coach and your team comes from a mid-major college. And you have a game to play against one of the best teams in the country. You are also aware that the team you’re about to compete against has a 6‘11” center who scores an average of 25 points per game, which includes making 52% of his field goals and 90% of his free throws.

The game begins and you notice something’s different. The 6’11” center is missing easy shots and at half time has made only 20% of his free throws. So as head coach, you make the decision to allow him to shoot and you instruct your team to foul him often, forcing him to go to the free throw line. You realize something is wrong with his game but you’re not quite sure what. When the game ends, your team has won by 10 points and everyone is in a happy mood.

Later, you find out from someone who was in your opponents’ locker room that the 6’11” center had had an argument with his girlfriend about an hour before the game began. He didn’t tell anyone about the problem he was having, including his teammates or his coach. He withheld his feelings and emotions, not realizing that withholding was a form of lying that demeaned him and lowered his self-esteem, creating psychological baggage that affected his ability to focus.

When athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony they perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis. But when they are unhappy, and bottle up their feelings and emotions, they won’t play anywhere near their skill levels.

That’s why I’m an advocate of a two-phase program: #1, converting teams into support groups with weekly team meetings allowing players to get “things” off their chests. #2, having the team watch a power video of themselves with a special musical soundtrack that has emotional appeal. I’ve attached an example of a power video below that I helped create for the University of Missouri Men’s Basketball Team. The player featured in the video, after watching himself perform numerous times, scored 36 points, his highest point total of his career.

A belief is a powerful tool. If an athlete believes he or she will increase his or her performance by watching himself or herself on a video, it will. A baseball player who watches himself perform hitting home runs will hit home runs, assuming he has the ability to hit home runs. The video I’m recommending: http://youtu.be/CKLmxV5Bkyw.

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