March Madness is certainly living up to its name this year!
Who doesn’t love watching mid-majors get their time in the spotlight! St. Peters, Creighton, South Dakota are all battling schools whose budgets probably match the “supplies” line in most BCS budgets.
Even though watching the underdog is fun, we know winning and losing is so much more than the haves and the have nots.
As I remind the teams I work with, if we already knew who was going to win the game based on analytics, stats or budget, we could save a lot of time and money and just crown the winner based on predictions.
But stats and predictions lie!
We play the game to see who is best on that day. That is the fun of sport!
There are a million and one things that go into winning, but one big thing is how we react to what is happening around us.
Case in point. In yesterday’s Sweet Sixteen game between NC State and Notre Dame, with 19 seconds left and Notre Dame up by one with the ball, NC State’s point guard stole the ball and took it down for an easy layup and the lead.
Now with 14.8 seconds left, Notre Dame calls a time out with the ball and time to score the last basket for the win.
If you were watching, I am sure you saw the excitement on NC State’s bench. Of course! It was a GREAT play!
Pan down to Notre Dame’s bench and you saw hands on heads, despair, frustration and disappointment. Of course! They just lost the lead and could have held the ball for the win.
BUT, there were 14.8 seconds left and for a team with the experience of Notre Dame, that was plenty of time to score.
Flashback to 2003 when we were playing for the Horizon League Championship at Cleveland State. We were up by one run with two outs in the top of the 7th. The head coach made a bone head move (who was she anyway?) and pitched to a kid we hit into easy 4-3 outs in her prior two at bats.
We had her number, right?
Well, her stats did not lie this time and she got her hit…deep over the right-center fence. Did I mention there was a runner on? Two-run homer and the lead goes to the other guys!
My catcher, in frustration, slams her helmet to the ground. In her mind at that moment, it was over.
BUT we had another half inning to play. Like Notre Dame, we still had a chance.
Did these REACTIONS change our OUTCOMES?
Disappointing things happened (EVENT). We were distraught (REACTION). We both lost (OUTCOME).
The E+R=O equation is not new to us. But these examples remind us of the importance of keeping this calculation front and center. The effects of reaction were on full display yesterday as it was on that fateful day in May 2003.
By watching the Irish at that moment yesterday, you had a feeling it wasn’t going to go well as they came out of the huddle. It is SO HARD to rebound after such a shock and who can blame them?
I wish I would have paid more attention to reactions (mine included) when I was coaching.
I don’t have a magic tool or formula to keep our athletes from letting disappointment take over the moment that is foolproof, but there are a few things we can do to try to regain our focus and purpose when it "hits the Big Ass Fan"(I am not cussing. This is my absolute favorite company name - it's a real thing...bigassfan.com).
First, as our team assembles in a time out, a mound visit or between innings, force them to LOOK UP and GET BIG.
We know that EXPANSIVE POSTURE is more aggressive than slouched shoulders. And we can never find the answers looking at our shoes! For as long as the stoppage of play lasts, remind your athletes to strike that power pose! Lower their cortisol and raise their testosterone. Both are critical to competition!
Second, we have the most powerful regulator of stress with us at all times…our BREATH!
As your team is standing tall with their chins up (adding a smile would be helpful, too, since our brain releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin – all stress relievers) take a collective diaphragmatic breath. Big words for a simple process of breathing fully, in through your nose and out through your nose or mouth, extending your belly as you inhale and contracting your belly as you exhale. Making the exhale longer than the inhale slows the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and allows us to regain access to our thinking brain!
Finally, reminding our players of WHAT WE CAN CONTROL and WHAT'S IMPORTANT NOW is vital.
Instead of focusing on what got us to this point, focus on where we are now, what we need to do and how we are going to do it.
It sounds so simple. It’s not so simple!
But if we have a plan on how WE will react, we can help others manage their minds and the moment to move forward and take advantage of the next 14.8 seconds or half-inning.
Will we win? Sometimes we will, sometimes we won’t. Will we give ourselves a chance to win? Yes!
Mistakes are part of the game. Mistakes are part of life.
How we move forward with the time we have left will change the outcome of everything.
And even if we don’t win this time, we are training our brain and building good habits for the next inevitable disappointment, understanding that tough things happen sometimes. But if we can manage our minds and the movement, we will tip the scales in our favor!
Rebounding from mistakes is REALLY HARD. Coming to terms with the fact that mistakes happen and our reaction is more important at the moment can be game-changing.
Every team is different, but all our bodies react the same. Using our physiological tools to calm our bodies and minds can be helpful even in the toughest situations. After we settle our emotions, looking at the facts of the situation moving forward is key.
But just like everything else we do in sport, we have to practice all of it for it to be effective when we need it most!
As you watch the remainder of March Madness, look for reactions. It makes the games even more fun to watch!
The more we become aware of how others react, the more we can evaluate and plan for our own.
And this may be the game-changer we are all looking for!
Have a great week!
P.S. I would love to help you and your team with what’s important to your success.
Call today and let’s set a plan that fits your team. Don’t have the budget for a full program right now? Schedule a team session today or check out my online courses at www.ssbperformance.com/courses
Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach
email@example.com • 234-206-0946