Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Team Meetings

Let’s assume you’re a shooting guard and play for a Division I Men’s Basketball Team. Just before one of your games you’ve experienced a problem in your personal life and haven’t told anyone about it. You’ve “stuffed it” inside yourself, thus affecting your ability to focus. In that particular game you go 1 for 10, which means you missed nine shots. Those nine shots represented a potential 18 points (even more if any were three pointers) not to mention that the opposing team may have gotten the rebounds and taken the ball down the court and hit five of them. That represents another 10 points. If you combine them they represent a 28 point differential. Pretty hard to overcome in a typical game. It’s like giving your opponent a 28 point advantage. And that’s from just one player. That’s why I advocate coaches create team support groups, allowing their players to talk about their personal feelings and issues with their teammates instead of “bottling” them up. And very often a player’s issues could be the result of a problem with the coach, which is why team meetings without coaches present often produce a positive change in the won-lost column. Remember, withholding (keeping your issues and emotions bottled up inside yourself) is a form of lying that demeans you and lowers your self-esteem, creating psychological baggage that affects your ability to focus and process information.

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When the Ohio Bobcats beat Penn State 24-14 this past Saturday, television pundits were making excuses for the Nittany Lions saying it was because of the “distractions.” And, of course, they are right. But it happens in almost every game when any football team, basketball team or baseball team loses. Very often you’ll find one or more players who dropped passes, caused turnovers, missed three point shots they usually make or go 0-5 at the plate. In almost all instances the same pundits give credit to and lavish praise on the winning team, focusing on how well they played, never even mentioning there could be “distractions” taking place among players on the losing teams. Distractions such as: Problems with a girlfriend, financial problems, problems with a coach. They can all negatively affect performance. That’s why I believe sports teams, if they want to be successful, should conduct team meetings every week (without coaches present) allowing players to vent issues they may be carrying around. And when this venting takes place, it not only enhances feelings of self-worth of individual players (and thereby enhancing their performance) but also helps to bond the team. Sports psychologists are not allowed to conduct these types of meetings since they would be entering the domain of the clinical psychologist and could lose their license. That’s why I advocate all sport psychologists be required to not only have a PhD but also a Masters degree in counseling.

Successful coaches care about their athletes as human beings first, and then as athletic performers. This includes helping them with their personal issues and problems and having an open-door policy.

Successful coaches know that when they get angry they give away their power. They do not yell and get in the faces of their athletes.

Successful coaches are aware that what takes place in their own personal lives affects how they interact with their teams.

Successful coaches encourage their athletes not to “withhold” their feelings and emotions since withholding is a form of lying that demeans them and lowers their self-esteem. As their self-esteem is lowered they take fewer risks in interpersonal relationships and create psychological baggage for themselves that affects their ability to focus and process information.

Successful coaches hold weekly team meetings and encourage, when necessary, that their players sometimes participate in “players only” meetings so they will feel free to discuss team related problems and issues in a support group environment, issues they may not feel comfortable discussing with their coach present.

Successful coaches know they cannot motivate their players but can create a support group environment allowing their players to discuss their personal issues and problems; and when they do, they will then feel better about themselves and will automatically become more motivated.

Successful coaches are constantly aware of their players’ eye contact since they realize that poor eye contact is an indication that players are withholding.

Successful coaches encourage their players to use visualization techniques, including the use of a meaningful music track to accompany their visualization process.

Successful coaches encourage their players to “excel for a higher order” by helping others less fortunate than themselves.

Successful coaches are those who tap into their athletes’ belief systems, realizing that the athlete’s beliefs affect performance, not the coaches.


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