USA TODAY – Washington Redskins Wire – By Lake Lewis, Jr. – January 26, 2017 – Over the years, sports psychologists have helped some of the top teams and high profile athletes gain a mental edge over their opponents. And while NFL athletes are some of the most physically gifted individuals, fragile egos can quickly lose confidence if their play and performance are not up to par.
The Washington Redskins, for whatever reason, have a history of epic meltdowns during prime-time games. In fact, some of their worst games were matchups with big consequences.
This past season, the Burgundy and Gold had could have clinched a playoff spot with a win in either of their final two home games, but their performances were lackluster.
Could a sports psychologist have helped determine a different outcome?
Some of the more storied franchises in sports have used sports psychologists, and these teams are known to be mentally tough.
Teams that have won championships, such as the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks, have used forms of sports psychology to help them perform better. Other elite pro teams, such as the New York Yankees (MLB) and the San Antonio Spurs (NBA), have employed it as well.
Murray states that the “athletes known as overachievers constantly outperform those with more raw speed or strength because they make better decisions. They stay focused rather than getting rattled in the heat of battle. They remain confident and resilient no matter what the situation is, and we all recognize that their performance has nothing to do with their limbs and muscles and everything to do with their brain.”
Several current and former players I spoke with revealed they had sports psychologists in college but not with the Redskins. Players can seek out help independently, which many in the league do, if their team doesn’t offer the service.
Washington could use help in the mental approach to the game. Too many times they have underachieved when the lights were the brightest or the stage was unforgiving.
The team could start performing at a higher level winning if they maximized the mental approach to the game, since the talent has improved over the past several seasons.
The Patriots are back in the Super Bowl with a roster that is not the most talented. They were also hit hard by injuries and still didn’t miss a beat. Their mental approach to the game from coach Bill Belichick to quarterback Tom Brady is better than it ever has been. (Tom Brady, it should also be noted, recently stated after the 2017 championship win over the Steelers that the mental toughness was the most important factor in team success)
This is the difference between teams with talent and teams with a mental capacity that can’t be broken.
Hope you have enjoyed this feature from the world of sports psychology.