Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘MIZZOU Magazine

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.

Do athletes make their coaches successful or do coaches make their athletes successful? Probably a little of each. As a Missouri University graduate I received my monthly copy of Mizzou Magazine today and found an interesting article about Chelsea Thomas who pitches for the Missouri University Women’s Softball Team. When Mizzou softball coach Ehren Earleywine received a rather grainy video from Chelsea’s father when she was a senior in high school, he really couldn’t tell that much about her so he decided to take his radar gun and visit Chelsea’s hometown of Pleasantville, Iowa, and see for himself. According to Mizzou Magazine: “During the pitching session the 18-year-old’s first three tosses registered 70, 71 and 68 mph before Earleywine politely excused himself to fix what had to be an equipment malfunction. A typical women’s college fastball zips in at 60 to 65 mph. ‘I’m banging this calibrator against a tree, which is what you’re supposed to do to get it to vibrate, then I went back and said: “Go ahead and cut loose,” Earleywine says. ‘The next pitch was 73 mph. I knew right then I had a chance to be a pretty good coach.”

I was interested in comments made by Missouri basketball star Kim English in the Missouri Alumni magazine MIZZOU (Winter, 2012 issue) when he was quoted as saying: “’Before the game and at halftime, I look into all of my teammates’ eyes,’ English says. ‘I take a second and stare at every person so I can see if they’re ready, nervous, focused. There’s an unspoken bond between us.’” Kim instinctively knows that athletes who have poor eye contact generally have issues they’re withholding (repressing). Withholding is a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their self-esteem, creating psychological baggage that affects their ability to focus and process information. For example, a shooting guard who is having a problem with a girlfriend and is keeping it bottled up inside himself will begin missing his 3-point shots unless he’s able to talk about his issues with the coach or teammates before the game in a safe, controlled, environment. By the same token, athletes who have excellent eye contact and visualize their success will almost always perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis. And when an athlete has good eye contact it’s a sign of high self-esteem and starts with having been reared in a loving, nurturing home environment. No small wonder that Kim is one of the team’s best players and I would wager that he fits the mold perfectly


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