When I was a kid I used to stand in the doorway of our kitchen and block my sister from entering.
I know! Mean!!
I am almost 6 years older and I used that to my advantage more times than I would like to admit.
Blocking the doorway enraged my skinny (and I mean skinny) little sister. She would run as hard as she could at me and try to get me to budge. Every now and then her impact hurt a bit. This is probably the first time I ever said that out loud 😊.
She would get more and more irritated as her attempts went on.
Back up…run as hard as you can…bounce off….back up further…run as hard as you can with a grunt…bounce off (get laughed at)…repeat.
I was thinking about this as I watched two football games this weekend. Both teams self-destructed in the last few minutes of the game.
They seemed to be channeling my little sister…losing it a little more with each play!
One team (a top 5 BCS team) had 4 false starts in about two minutes. The other team, in typical Cleveland fashion, seemed to lose their wits and gave up an easy score with only a few precious ticks on the clock.
In all of the above situations, frustration took over. Time sped up. They tried faster and harder to no avail!
You have seen it time and time again, I am sure. Almost out of nowhere, the wheels fall off and you can’t even account for what happened. Your face is like that of Kevin Stefanski at the end of the game, holding your headset in your hand in disbelief!
What happens in these moments and more importantly, what can we do to avoid them?
In my sister’s case, she just tried harder, faster and with more furry in new each approach. It never worked!
For the football teams, it seems like they were using her playbook!
What would have happened in all three situations had the player (or skinny little girls) just STOPPED?
JUST STOPPED…and took a minute…or even a second…to regroup, reset, refocus?
In my sister’s case, had she stopped for even a second to think about her unsuccessful approach, she may have considered running upstairs to get my dad or just running up and tickling me to get my arms down and allowing enough space to get through to get a drink or snack…or just to win…period! (The first option would have been a sure thing.
If I had even heard my dad’s footsteps I would have retreated and acted innocent, of course!).
In the case of the backup college quarterback or the pro defense that imploded, a simple stop could have given them the time to remind each other that they had trained for this moment a hundred times.
The announcers blamed the false starts on the crowd noise. Do you mean to tell me these BCS players haven’t practiced with blaring crowd noise before…or played in such a situation?
And for the pros making millions, have they not been in situations where they needed a stop late in the game?
Of course not!
What we forget in pressure-filled situations or frustration is that we can slow things down IF WE SLOW OURSELVES DOWN!
That doesn’t mean we play slow. It means we breathe slower. We think slower. We STOP, even if it is just to look at something that reminds us that all we can do is control what is in front of us!
We get so caught up in moments. But when we are caught up in “moments” we aren’t caught up in the moment at all. We are caught up in the momentum that builds as we lose sight of our process.
Get back to the huddle. Look someone in the eye. Talk about the play. PICTURE THE PLAY before it happens. TAKE A FEW DEEP BREATHS. Gain some control over your physical actions with deliberate mental actions.
That is what it takes.
Will we always win the play? NO!
Will we have a much better chance of winning the play? YES!
Sometimes is just takes a STOP followed by deliberate action – a breath, a quick mental rehearsal of what is to come or taking a second to recalibrate to the present moment by noticing something in detail so we are focused on the here and now!
We MUST be in control of ourselves before we can control our performance.
Controlling ourselves starts with having a plan for when things speed up on us (or when big sisters infuriate us 😊)!
No matter who we are or what we do, we all need to STOP and regroup at times to ensure we allow ourselves the opportunity to act as our best selves!
Like every good weekend football watcher, I was yelling “TIME OUT” during the college game. I didn’t think it mattered how many times they could stop the clock in future plays if they were working from 10 yards deeper on every down in this set of downs (but what do I know!).
What I do know is that however our games or situations allow, we have to utilize a HARD STOP sometimes. And to do that, we need to practice it, even if we are just acting as we practice.
What kinds of stops can be built into your game when needed?
Make a plan, have a signal for your team to STOP, then be sure everyone has a quick routine or reset that pulls them back to NOW!
I never shared the tactics above with my sister. But had she STOPPED, taken a minute, and thought about it, she could have ended the game as quickly as it started and I doubt I would have used that story here 😊!
How can you use these tactics to slow the game down in pressure situations? Thinking about it and making a plan may not win you get game, but it will give you a better chance!
So, STOP IT (as Jen used to say as she plowed into me with all of her might 😊).
Have a great week!
P.S. I would love to help your team increase its performance. Give me a call or text at 234–206–0946 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a team session!
Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach
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