Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘NCAA Basketball Tournament

I’ve been watching the NCAA post-season basketball tournament and noticed that one of the announcers, when commenting on the fact that one of the teams had lost their last three games, said: “They just got rusty.” He said this because he really didn’t know why they had lost their last three games. In fact, this lack of knowledge is really quite common throughout the sports industry. Here’s what I’ve found over the years: There are Primary and Secondary levels of distraction for athletes that will negatively affect their ability to focus. The Primary level is essentially when an athlete gets over-excited and needs to calm his or her nerves. This problem can often be taken care of during the game and we are able to see change in the athlete during the game. These are athletes who can be helped by a sport psychologist. Meditation is often a valuable tool. But there is also the Secondary level that includes, for example, problems with a girlfriend (or boyfriend), financial problems or family problems. These are problems that, once the game gets underway, cannot be addressed and probably won’t ever be addressed until the athlete is made aware that addressing these three types of problems will enhance his or her performance. These are athletes with problems who cannot be helped by a sport psychologist because they are considered clinical in nature and can only be addressed by a clinical psychologist, or someone with clinical experience. When teams become support groups one of their main functions is to have team members interact with each other and address the Secondary level of problems and issues. And when they do, the issues/problems begin to disappear…like magic.

I am a big fan of Coach Bill Self but one has to wonder about the play calling at the end of the Michigan-Kansas game with just 9 seconds to go and KU down by two points. Or, if it wasn’t the play called by Coach Self, then it had to be a bad mental error on the part of Elijah Johnson. Johnson traveled the length of the court and was on his way to an easy lay-up that would have tied the game and sent the teams into a second overtime (or he could have even been fouled in addition to making the lay-up and won the game for KU with a free throw) but instead of taking the shot he threw the ball back out to Naadir Tharpe who missed a running jumper at the buzzer. I guess no one will ever know for sure if Coach Self made a mistake or if Elijah Johnson just wasn’t thinking clearly. Sometimes baggage will do that to a player or a coach. Especially in pressure situations.

During the KU-Purdue game last night, I was appalled at how the officials allowed the Purdue players to physically abuse and constantly foul KU’s Thomas Robinson. Almost every time his teammates tried to work the ball into him at the post, some Purdue player was hanging on his arm or not allowing him to break to the middle to receive a pass. If they had refereed the game properly, Robinson could very well have set an all-time NCAA record for free throws taken during a single game. As it was, he made 7 out of 11 attempts, but should have been on the foul line 25-30 times!

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