Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘NCAA

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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A number of years ago I was working with a high school coach who was coaching a girls’ soccer team. They had a good team but were not performing up to their potential. Then, an accident happened. One player’s boyfriend was killed in a motorcycle accident. The team rallied around her and comforted her, which resulted in the creation of good team chemistry and at the same time enhancing the performane of the entire team. The team went on to win the state championship.

Something similar happened at Missouri State University. On February 1, 2015, MSU volleyball player Tatum Marshall experienced personal tragedy when she lost her step father, Alex, who she had known and was close to since she was three years old. Alex worked at a Thriftstore in Fayetteville to support a ministry and help underprivileged children. He was loved by everyone who knew him.

A life-saving support system came into being with her teammates, coaches and fans. There was off-court bonding between her and her teammates. Fantastic team chemistry developed and still exists today.

Volleyball coach Melissa Stokes had developed a friendship with Alex and the two of them often visited after matches. She also wears her “#LiveLikeAlex” wristband every day. “We take it as a great responsibility that when you become a Bear, we not only look out for them as volleyball players, but as people as well,” coach Stokes said.

The team is on its way to the NCAA tournament and should have great success. They have something no other team possesses: the memory of Alex.

The NCAA must think we sports fans are stupid. Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, made a salary of $1.9 million during 2014. But his press release pointed out that his salary was less than that of the commissioners in Power Five conferences. Try telling that to 460,000 NCAA athletes who make zero income while filling the pockets of NCAA executives, coaches and commissioners. If I were an NCAA athlete, I would organize a nationwide strike until the NCAA agreed to share the profit they make from the blood, sweat and tears of NCAA athletes, with the athletes (in the form of scholarships, not as employees.)  Many of these athletes cannot even afford to buy a pizza after a game. I know this for a fact because one of the teams I worked with didn’t have enough money to buy a pizza after a game so I treated them (under the table, of course) since they could have been penalized.

In an article that appeared in the May 27, 2005 issue of USA Today, it was pointed out that baseball player 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.

An article in The New Yorker Magazine explained how Chinese parents are superstitious to the point where they hesitate to praise their children, because they believe pride brings on misfortune. One has to wonder if former NBA star Yao Ming was ever praised by his parents while growing up in China?

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.

In matters of health, what a patient believes about the potency of a particular medicine or treatment is almost as important as the medicine or treatment itself.

The reason why KU should win the 2016 NCAA national championship is similar to what happened in 2008.  On Sunday Feb. 24th 2008 the team held a team meeting (players only) and did not lose a game for the rest of the season. (See below)  On January 22nd, 2016, Coach Self held a meeting with Ellis, Mason, Selden and Graham to help him determine who the fifth starter should be and they haven’t lost a game since.

Following is what I published on my blog back in 2008.

Those of you who are familiar with my training program know how important I believe it is for teams to have team meetings at least once a week (without coaches present.) This allows team members to speak frankly and clear the air and not withhold (or repress) their feelings.

When athletes repress or withhold their feelings it’s a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their self-esteem, creating psychological baggage and affects their ability to focus and process information. So when Head Coach Bill Self gave his blessing for the Kansas Jayhawks Basketball team to hold a players-only team meeting, Kansas City Star writer J. Brady McCollough wrote that some thought it might have been the chicken wings they ate at Henry Ts Bar & Grill that helped them make the final four, and to ultimately win the NCAA tournament. Here’s what McCullough wrote:
“Ryan Robertson had to laugh when he first heard that the Kansas Jayhawks turned their season around over chicken wings.

It wasn’t that the players chose to eat at Henry T’s Bar & Grill. Guys have been doing that for the last 15 years or so. It was more that, well, he hadn’t ever thought of having a players-only meeting in a public place before…Around 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24, the entire KU team pushed open the doors of Henry T’s. Situated on the west side of town, the restaurant is far removed from the peering eyes of campus or Massachusetts Street, where the Jayhawks would undoubtedly be hounded if seen together as a team.
Less than a day had passed since they had lost their third game of the season in ugly fashion, 61-60 to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Kansas, once 20-0, was suddenly 24-3 and appeared to be playing its way out of the Big 12 regular-season title race and a high NCAA Tournament seed.

According to KU guard Sherron Collins, the Jayhawks had some chemistry issues, and there were some things that needed to be said. ‘Everyone got their feelings out,’ Collins said, ‘and no feelings were hurt. Everyone understood it was for the good of the team. Once we got over that, people started listening to each other and didn’t take things the wrong way.’”
The Jayhawks, 35-3, hadn’t lost since. Eleven wins later, they played in their first Final Four game since 2003, and then went on to win the national championship. The owners of Henry T’s are giddy over the possibility of marketing their establishment as “the place where champions come to eat” or something like that.

I was watching John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” show on HBO and one of the subjects he covered was the fact that NCAA basketball coaches are making millions of dollars and some of the athletes they coach are going to bed each night hungry. Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA, was quoted saying: “They (the athletes) are not employees, they’re students.” A number of years ago when the NCAA was first formed, they would not allow for workman’s compensation (because they are college students) and that’s when the phrase “student athletes” first became part of the NCAA vocabulary. And because they do not receive workman’s compensation if they get hurt while playing, they have nowhere to turn for medical treatment and medical expenses. But what really seemed preposterous was when they showed Clemson’s head football coach, Dabo Swinney, saying: “Professionalizing college athletics? That’s when they lose me. I’ll go do something else because there’s enough entitlement in this world as it is.” Swinney, by the way, makes $3 million a year. I wonder where he would go to do something else? I’ve been an advocate of paying college basketball players for a number of years now and who better to help pay them than the National Basketball Association? After all, college sports provides a free farm club for every professional basketball team in the NBA. So it only seems right that they should participate in the payments.

 

I just read in this morning’s USA Today where a former NFL player, Christian Peter, who had been plagued with aggression problems throughout his career, including rape, had been fed a steady diet of steroids while in high school by his high school coach. He felt that the steroids he took in high school may well have been the origin of his behavior involving the physical abuse of women.  Perhaps I’m a bit naive but it never occurred to me that high school coaches were dong this.  One has to wonder if this situation exists in school programs throughout the country and if yes, why aren’t there drug testing programs in place similar to the NFL and the NCAA? Those coaches who are caught giving their players steroids or have been looking the other way while their players have been taking steroids, should not only be banned from coaching forever but should also be strung up by their thumbs.


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