Tag: positive influence

Teddy “GUMP”

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

If you happened to catch any of the Vikings-Falcons game on Sunday, you had the chance to see Teddy “Two Gloves” Bridgewater make his NFL debut. You also had a chance to see him throw for over 300 yards, score a rushing touchdown, and lead the Vikings to a hard-fought and well-earned home victory over a dangerous Atlanta Falcons teams.

So what’s the one word to describe Bridgewater’s brilliant debut? If you asked him, it would be GUMP.

GUMP is a nickname that Bridgewater first adopted in high school, given to him by his teammates after the copious amounts of Forrest Gump jokes and references he would make. But GUMP quickly became more than just a nickname for Bridgewater; those four letters are now a life motto that motivates Teddy each and every day.

It stands for Great Under Major Pressure and helped guide Bridgewater first through a spectacular career at the University of Louisville, where he saw tremendous on-field success. Arguably even more importantly, though, was the implication it has had on his life following his time as a collegiate star.

Heralded as one of the best available quarterbacks in the 2014 Draft Class, Bridgewater watched the big board move along farther and farther without hearing his name. To make it even worse, he had to sit by and watch other high profile QB’s, namely Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel, get drafted to teams in need of relief at the position. It was not until the Vikings made a trade and picked up Bridgewater with the 31st overall pick that his NFL dreams become a reality, and with them even more major pressure than he had ever faced in his young life.

Stepping into an organization with quarterback troubles and a lot of questions floating around about whether or not Ponder and Cassel would be able to perform, all eyes turned to Bridgewater. Here’s this first-rounder that’s coming in with the expectation that he’ll come in and help turn the franchise around. Think that’s a little bit of pressure? Chalk it up for major pressure count number one.

It was right around that point that the Vikings’ coaches formally announced that Bridgewater was going to be properly coached and was going to be given lots of time to acclimate to the culture of the NFL before seeing the field. So now not only was the weight of ‘franchise savior’ on his shoulders, but when he does finally see the field there would be no excuses for anything short of perfection. Add that to the major pressure count, number two.

Then suddenly, what seemed like all at once, the face of the franchise and the team’s best player, Adrian Peterson, was no longer a member of the team. Then, Matt Cassel seemed to flop against the New England Patriots. The packed house at TCF Bank Stadium chanted, “Teddy! Teddy!” begging for him to come save the day. Not only did Bridgewater need to come save the day, but in doing so he was being asked to become the face of a franchise in need of a hero on and off the field. We’ll call that major pressures three, four, and five.

Yet, despite it all, Bridgewater came out and led the Vikings to the victory everyone was asking for. He dominated the game on the field, and went on to handle himself as professionally and humbly as could be asked for off the field following the victory. He took every expectation of him–gathered every bit of major pressure that had been placed on him–and he was good. No, he was better than good: on Sunday, September 28th, Teddy Bridgewater was GUMP.

There are any number questions one might ask for crediting Bridgewater’s success. Did he prepare himself physically to be able to perform on the field? Undoubtedly. Did he study his playbook until he knew it like the back of his gloved hand? It sure seemed that way on the field. But what was the most important piece of the Bridgewater puzzle? It seems to be a state of mind that he has been practicing, normalizing, and optimizing since he was just a teenager; the real key to Bridgewater’s success seems to be that he believed he would be successful.

And maybe that’s the most profound lesson to learn of all. Something as simple as a mindset and a firmly held belief helped to mold Bridgewater into the NFL phenom he showed he can be. We’ve seen sport psychology techniques such as this prove to be successful already in professional football after Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks took their mindfulness all the way to the top, winning Super Bowl XLVIII. I’m sure Minnesota fans across the country will be hoping so–especially with the new stadium en route and the opportunity to host the contest in 2018.

Our advice: hop on the bandwagon now! Teddy Bridgewater has proven to be great, and has all the mental tools to be great for years to come. Where some might say the pressure will be too great to get to and win a Super Bowl in a team’s home stadium, we say to them this: If Bridgewater has been this successful already, just imagine how capable he will be faced with all of that.

 

 

It’s All In Your Head

By: Premier Sport Psychology

A rhythmic pulse of two-hundred tightly laced shoes flies through the dense woods of the DuPage River Park Forest Preserve. A grassy beaten path lay before us, punctured by the spikes of previous runners. My teammates and I are just finishing up the casual 3 mile loop that will soon be the judge, jury, and prosecutor for which of us are free to compete in regionals and a chance to cling to the dream of carrying on to sectionals, or even greater, state. Our coach, Mr. Iverson, stands with his legs wide apart, arms crossed with a concentrated gaze rested upon us as we jog toward him at the soon to be finish line. He nods for us to continue toward a shaded patch of grass where the two assistant coaches are waiting.

He instructs us to take a seat wherever we like and to make sure there is plenty of room between us. The team curiously does as instructed but a low rumble of conversation vibrates between us. Iverson lets it die down before he continues. He explains that that he wants to do an exercise with imagery and that we need to keep our minds open. This comes from a man who has surpassed all expectations by having his cross country team successfully compete every year at state for the past 30-some years; it’s hard not to trust what he says.

We gladly lie down in the cool grass and close our eyes, as instructed. Iverson begins by drawing our attention to our breathing and position in the grass. As he speaks, I follow his deep calming voice into a trance like state; my breathing slows and my body feels as if it is melting into the ground. His words lead me back to the course we have just finished, except it is now altered. There are eight colored tents: each representing a different competing team. Distant cheers from another race mix together with the heightened buzz of conversation among the athletes. He tells us to take note of the excitement, the energy, the fear, and to let it fuel us, but not distract us. In our minds, he leads us on a confident walk toward our tent and directs us to concentrate on beginning a strong warm-up. I envision myself taking perfect strides: arms at my waist, straightened back and a leg raising high while the other simultaneously rips the dirt beneath me. The image plants pre-race jitters in my heart and it starts to accelerate.

Iverson brings our imagination to the jog toward the starting line. As he speaks, I feel my heart hammering in my chest and a coldness fall over me. My blood is quickly rushing in anticipation and my hands start to tremble. Even with the race still another day away in reality, I feel everything the same way I would as if it were just mere minutes away. There is a moment of anxious silence before he speaks again. We’re told to pause a moment and breathe. Iverson explains that whether we run our best or worst, either way we are still going to be running three miles. He adds that we have nothing to fear because our best is good enough and no one can be disappointed in someone who puts themselves out there for a chance to be great. He tells us to feel our melted bodies on the ground and to remember this feeling as we are on our way to the starting line. He says that there is nothing to fear and to slow our breathing–the race has not yet begun, and until we reach that finish line, we still have the opportunity to improve. We’re instructed to use the strength we’ve built each and every practice and reminded once more that it’s just another 3 mile race.

With a renewed energy we line up at the start line and strongly sprint out 100 meters before returning to our positions. The scene is so familiar, but somehow different. I don’t fear the race. I don’t fear the pain or mental fatigue I am about to endure. Instead, I am invigorated by it. I know what I am capable of as Iverson drives our minds through the course we race, and I feel powerful. When he brings us to the finish line, I see myself put in every last bit of effort to pass every color I can. Mentally crossing the finish line is exhilarating. Again, he takes us to our cool down and stretches where we lay down to finish them. As our bodies soften into the ground, they take shape in reality.

We keep our eyes closed in complete silence, contemplating what we have just experienced. I replay the ideas in my head. Run the race without fear. Slow my breathing. Tap into my potential. Hold nothing back. Be free.

With that final thought, I open my eyes.

Sarah Brinkman

A Tip for Coaches: How to Bring Your Team up When They’re Down

By: Premier Sport Psychology

By: Premier Intern Staff

 

We’ve all been there: a negative state of mind when the game isn’t going well. It’s easy to get to that place, too. It starts with an error, a bad play, or some missed shots. Before you know it, your athletes are walking away from the competition with their heads hung low. If there’s anything that has the ability to spread quickly and to set in and take hold in our minds, it’s negative thinking. However, there is a silver lining. Dr. Justin Anderson, a licensed sport psychologist, has some key advice for coaches:

“The best thing that you can do for your athletes when they’ve hit a rough patch is to simplify the game. Give them one task to focus on; one goal that they can attain. It’s important to bring their minds back to one task that is important now.”

He suggests that instead of focusing on the end result, a win, break it down by giving your athletes a goal: getting positive yardage on the next drive or a defensive stand before the period runs out. When your athletes are in the moment and focusing on what they need to do right then and there, they’re going to perform much differently. When athletes have goals to build on, they can start building some really good momentum. He furthers this with a couple of quotes from Coach John Wooden, who is not only famous for his NCAA wins, but also for his many poignant, inspiring words:

“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

In his years of being an athlete and a sport psychologist, Dr. Justin knows how easy it is for an athlete to get overwhelmed. Coaches sometimes focus too much on the negative. It’s obvious that as a coach, your goals for your athletes are to have them compete well and to hopefully win, but it doesn’t always improve your athletes’ performance when they’re being drilled on what they’re doing wrong.

“The players already know that they aren’t supposed to fumble or that they’re supposed to make their shots. As a coach, you need to make a point to tell them what to do instead of what not to do.”

Next time your athletes are down, take a deep breath, and bring them back up. Give them a moment to be in. Know that your athletes have the ability to perform better and that looking toward success instead of pointing out failures is what can bring out the best in them. Small victories can easily boost morale and be a huge game changer. Keep the goal simple, but make sure that it’s something they can build on–getting that positive momentum going can be crucial.