For those of you who watched the Super Bowl in 2015, I’m sure you noticed that the theme was definitely Mental Toughness. In the post game celebrations, it seemed like all Patriot interviewees brought up the subject of Mental Toughness as being a determining factor in their narrow win over the Seahawks.
In an interview after winning the tournament MVP, Tom Brady, arguably the best quarterback in NFL history, explained:
“It was… a lot of Mental Toughness, our team had it all year. We never doubted each other. That’s what it took. That’s a great football team we beat. I’m just so happy for our team”
As a result, the Patriots were able to remain cool under fire. Their rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler was able to intercept what would otherwise been an easy Seahawk victory in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter (which could be argued was a blunder in mental toughness on the part of Seahawk coach Pete Carroll).
The Psychology Behind the Sea Hawks Last Losing Play
What had one team shine in the final minutes while the other choked with their experienced (and talented) coach Pete Carroll at the helm? According to Huffington Post columnist Steve Seibold, Carroll’s tragic flaw can be attributed to three key factors:
- Emotional decision making
- Underestimating his opponent
It was a combination of these 3 factors that Seibold explained led to Carroll’s decision to have his quarterback throw instead of run the ball at the end of the game, turning an otherwise brilliant game into an overwhelming upset for Seahawk fans.
What to learn for when the pressure’s on
When the pressure’s on, when the game is on the line, the first thing to understand is that your emotions will rule the show if left unchecked. This is the perfect time for a time-out (if possible) and to reconnect with your breath.
Breathing has the capability of slowing down the autonomic nervous system, to regulate your heart rate, and to decrease your stress response. If you have to make a decision at crunch time, first take 3 deep breaths in and out, preferably with your eyes closed and visualize the different options of what to do next.
It is a simple thing, but with your breathing slowed, your mind slows and that emotional response often does not look like the best idea any more.
For more Mental Toughness Tips and the revamped Get Psyched App, stay tuned.