Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Bjorn Borg

It’s pretty common knowledge to baseball fans that former Red Sox all-star Wade Boggs consumed chicken at 2pm on game days throughout his 18-year career. When he was inducted into the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, he thanked his elderly father who was sitting in the front row, but shouldn’t he have also thanked Kentucky Fried Chicken?

Swedish great Bjorn Borg never shaved during the Wimbledon fortnight, which he won from 1976-80. Tennis star James Blake wore the same Nike baseball cap without washing it for three weeks in a 14-match winning streak.

In baseball, no one speaks to a pitcher who is in the midst of a no-hitter and often they won’t even mention it to a teammate.

I once began working with a NCAA Division I men’s basketball team halfway through their season. They had a dismal 3-15 record and their coach allowed me to take them into a room where they proceeded to “unload” all their issues in the privacy of a team meeting, which was followed by visualization exercises. They won 8 out of their final 10 games and the coach thought it was because he wore the same under shorts every day, without laundering them once.

Some athletes believe a particular number on their jersey is important to success. If they have the number, they have extra confidence that enhances performance. If the team manager assigns a different number, the player loses confidence and that loss is reflected in performance. A wise coach takes advantage of his or her athletes’ beliefs, no matter how crazy they may seem to be, in order to build a team’s strength.

The athlete’s belief system controls performance, not the coach’s. If athletes believe that being sexually active the night before a big game will make them more relaxed and that they will therefore perform better, they will – regardless of what their coach believes. Coaches often try to force their own belief systems on their athletes and it just doesn’t work. The best coaches, the most successful ones, are those who instinctively tap into the belief systems of their players and use those beliefs to the team’s advantage.

If a basketball player believes that watching a video of himself making three point shots will enhance his ability to make three point shots, it will. (Providing of course he has the skill level.)

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.

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This is a question often raised and the answer is pretty simple. They don’t have a Bobby Brett to handle their finances, as he did for his brother George. When George was playing for the Kansas City Royals, I lived in Kansas City and owned an advertising agency and on occasion hired George to do commercials for my clients. And in order to get that accomplished, I had to go through Bobby, who was his financial adviser and confident. Bobby was a tough person to deal with but he was always straight forward with me and was always truthful. And I believe it was because of his diligence in handling George’s cash flow that helped George to be as successful as he was. When he came to bat, he never worried about his finances because he knew he had Bobby in his corner. Today, both are multi-millionaires and own a couple of minor league baseball franchises in the northwest United States.

It’s too bad Warren Sapp, Michael Vick, Mike Tyson, Johnny Unitas, Bjorn Borg and Mark Brunell didn’t have a Bobby in their corner. It’s been estimated that 78% of all NFL players will declare bankruptcy or face joblessness and divorce a mere two years after they finish their careers.

Citing the rate at which pro athletes declare bankruptcy after their professional careers end, former Major League Baseball player Doug Glanville wrote in one of his magazine columns that the problem lies with the speed at which the money comes in. He advises strong financial and life planning for athletes to avoid money woes after the playing stops. And I advise that they find someone like Bobby to cover their backs.


N. V. I.
National Visualization Institute

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