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An increasing number of college baseball teams are delving into Analytcis when coaches want to know about “a pitcher’s velocity or spin of the ball out of his hand or a hitter’s exit velocity and launch angle off the bat.” It all sounds very good but what Analytics doesn’t do is look into an athlete’s personal life to find out if he (or she) is experiencing personal problems such as an anger issue or a bad relationship with his girlfriend (or boyfriend) or internal problems with a coach or a teammate. That’s why I believe it’s important that teams are transformed into support groups where they can get things off their chests which helps them feel better about themselves and increases their feelings of self-worth. Over the years I’ve found that when athletes are happy and their lives are in harmony they perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis.

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This article includes some degree of speculation.  But the value of a players only team meeting is valid.

One of the 2018 NCAA March Madness Tournament coaches made a choice which, in my opinion, probably didn’t sit well with his team and could have been the reason they lost in the second round to a less talented team. The coach, who will remain unnamed, had a star freshman player who joined the team early in the season and immediately experienced a foot injury that kept him from suiting up all season long. So the coach did the best he could do with the healthy members of his team and they made it into the post-season tournament. About that time, his star athlete’s foot became healed well enough so he could play. The coach inserted him into the first tournament game early and the second tournament game also. Those players who worked their butts off all season long and had developed excellent chemistry with other members of the team were required to ride the bench and received very little playing time. This probably didn’t sit well with the team. But no one said anything because the coach makes those decisions based on information he has available to him. He IS the coach and that is his job. But maybe, just maybe, it might not have been a bad idea to allow his team to hold a players only meeting and allow them to determine if the star athlete should be allowed to replace the player who had worked hard all season long, or should he ride the bench. This is another example of how most of the time good team chemistry is as important, or possibly more important, than talent. And good chemistry is often the result of a players only meeting.

Much has been written in the media about how America’s women have been sexually abused by their bosses and supervisors and until now, have been reluctant to speak up because they feared the consequences of their honesty.

But something very similar is happening in the field of sports (and has been happening for a long time) based on the way some white coaches treat their black athletes behind closed doors. If a white coach treats an African-American athlete badly and the athlete speaks up, more than likely he will not only be kicked off the team but other teams will be reluctant to have him join them because he is immediately identified as a trouble-maker. The ramifications of this are enormous, especially since the athlete will be deprived of the opportunity to obtain a college degree. Rather than fight their coach and the front office (who is aware of their coach’s behavior but still support him) they clam up, saying nothing, especially to the media. Here’s an example:

A number of years ago, half-way through the season, I was called upon to help an NCAA Missouri Basketball team who, up to that time, was 3-15. My job as a sport psychology consultant was to help build team chemistry and help the players improve their performance. This involved each player standing and sharing with his teammates what was on his mind, with no coach present. There were twelve players on the team, ten of whom were African-American. At our first session, which was much like a support group meeting with all comments made to be kept in complete confidence within that room. What I heard from players was startling and amazing.  Since the players wouldn’t speak up about how their coach was treating them, I took it upon myself to approach a friend who was on the board of the university. He took action and when the season ended, that coach was fired. Unfortunately, word leaked out that it was I who approached the university and from that day on, no one at the university would hire me.

One last note: Once the “players only” weekly team meetings began, the team went on to win 8 out of their last 10 games.  The coach, who was highly superstitious, thought it was because he hadn’t changed his undershorts.

 

I watched the Frisco Bowl last night and saw the Louisana Tech football team blow out Southern Methodist University 51-10. The SMU Mustangs fumbled on the first play of the game and then things got worse. SMU had six turnovers and was behind at the half 42-10. But what caused SMU to have such a poor game? In my opinion, it was the fact that their head coach, Chad Morris, decided to leave the team and accept a higher paying job with the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Arkansas BEFORE the Frisco Bowl even began.

Morris took quite a few of his staff with him, creating a confused and discombobulated situation among SMU team members who were stunned by his decision to leave before their bowl game with LA Tech.

So much for an NCAA football coach telling his team all season long how much he loved them and would be there for them, until, that is, another team offered him more than three million dollars a year as head coach. In my opinion, this showed a huge lack of character on Coach Morris’ part. He should have accepted the job but only on the condition that he be allowed to finish off the season with his SMU team.

Cheer as you may for your favorite NCAA Division I team but the fact of the matter is that NCAA Division I is a business. Talk about a team distraction…Louisiana Tech didn’t win the game, SMU lost it. Thanks to Coach Morris’ early exit. I’m looking forward to the day when SMU plays Arkansas while Morris is still head coach and gets his you-know-what whipped.

Last night I watched the SMU mustangs win their football game over Tulsa, 38-34. According to an internet report: “A big turning point for the SMU defense came on Tulsa’s first drive of the second half. A long touchdown rush for the Golden Hurricane was negated for taunting before the runner reached the end zone. It wiped the touchdown off the board, and the Mustangs held the Golden Hurricane to just three points.” I watched that play and couldn’t believe it was not allowed because of taunting, and if you watched the play you would see the receiver, when he knew he was end-zone bound and no one was around him, performed a single high stepping strut which the referees ruled consisted of taunting. The announcers believed the NCAA rule was ridiculous, as do I, and should be modified. The NCAA should realize that football is a game and if they insist on taking the fun out of it, over a period of time, fans will lose interest.

I’ve often said that what you believe to be true is true for you, no matter how it plays out in the real world. A good example is Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt, who has this belief that he gets stronger during the second half of games. In an interview Hunt said he’s always been someone who gets stronger as games wear on. This is a powerful belief that has helped to make him the NFL’s rushing leader through the first four weeks of the season. Hunt believes he gets stronger and because of this belief he actually does get stronger.
A number of years ago, Missouri University’s football team was playing Oklahoma University and Oklahoma was a huge favorite since they had an All-American quarterback. With just a few minutes to go in the first half, Oklahoma was winning 21-0. But on the last play of the first half, Oklahoma’s All-American quarterback was injured and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher and was out for the rest of the game. When the second half started, Missouri seemed to have a different mindset. Even though they were still competing against the same Oklahoma defense that held them scoreless in the first half, they were able to score three times in the second half but eventually lost the game by a point, 21-20. What made the difference? Their “belief” they could win once the Oklahoma quarterback was out of the game. And the Oklahoma team more than likely believed that with their quarterback out of the game, they could lose…and they almost did.

A number of years ago I made a startling discovery: When athletes have a high sense of inner-self and their lives are in harmony, they are able to use visualization techniques effectively. They will not only perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis, but will also create positive events in their lives, on and off the field of competition. But when their lives are in disharmony, visualization and other mental techniques become ineffective. If they are experiencing personal problems and have unresolved issues hovering above them like a dark cloud, those problems and issues definitely affect their ability to perform in their sport.

I also found that the worst thing athletes can do to negatively affect their performance is to withhold their feelings and emotions. Withholding is a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their sense of inner-self, creating psychological baggage that affects their ability to focus and process information.

I was once playing in a handball tournament in Overland Park, Kansas. Just before I left for the courts my wife and I had a little disagreement about a subject but I didn’t think too much about it. When I arrived at the tournament, and after I was suited up and about to step onto the courts, something didn’t feel right. I excused myself and called my wife on the phone and told her how sorry I was about the tiff we had had and she told me she was so glad I called because she felt the same way. I told her when I returned home that evening we could talk about the issue and, together, figure out how to resolve it. She told again how happy she was that I had called.
I hung up the phone and, with the use of visualization, played some of the best handball of my life. But if I hadn’t made that phone call, I probably would have played some of the worst.

And by the way, one of the best visualization techniques involves the use of “Power Videos” which are personal highlight videos of yourself with a music soundtrack with meaningful lyrics. You watch your video over and over again and then just before you step onto the court you listen to just the soundtrack and if your life is in harmony, you will re-create the images from your video during competition.


N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

Learn how to visualize, resulting in increased performance.

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PHONE: 417-773-2695

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