Friday, February 5, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV: Getting ready for the Big Game

Yesterday I saw a Sport Center interview with NFL Analyst Mark Schlereth. He has been a part of 3 Super Bowl teams and shared some insight as to what the Colts and Saints are doing two days before kickoff. His comments intrigued me as he discussed principles of sport psychology that some people tend to overlook.

First, Schlereth talked about keeping things in perspective. What some performers and coaches tend to do is make a game a lot bigger than it really is. When this happens, anxiety rises, muscles tense, and focus can become dangerously narrow, meaning athletes focus on the magnitude of the game rather than the fundamentals that got them to the big game. During media day this past week, it wasn't uncommon to hear, "We aren't going to do anything different, we are going to stick to the same game plan we've had all year". Yes, this is the Super Bowl, yes the world will be watching, and yes this is the most important game of their lives, however, if they don't remember to keep things in perspective they will lose focus of the things that matter most, such as execution, fundamentals, precision, etc.

The second principle Schlereth talked about was preparation, both physical and mental. Research has shown that confidence is one of the most important components to an elite performance, and preparation precedes confidence. My father once gave me some sound advice on how to prepare for the big game, "know yourself, know your opponent, make a plan, and execute". Come Sunday when the day of the big game arrives, preparation for the Colts and the Saints is over and they will transition into trusting their preparation, committing to their game plan, and making adjustments.

If you are reading this article and have a big game, performance, or test coming up, remember this wise council from Mark Schlereth: Keep things in perspective and thoroughly prepare.

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