Thursday, January 29, 2009
Team Mental State at Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Invite was good. Came in 11th, took 1st in our Pool over Arizona, Clairmont and Santa Clara, and left with 6th. Yeah, we could have done better: losses to LPC and Tide were very frustrating. But overall, Im happy with our result.
The thing I am most happy about is the mental state we had as a team during the Clairmont game. We warmed up intense and focused. We played the first half intense and focused. He huddled intense and focused. We ended the game intense and focused. Honestly, I have a really hard time remembering Squid games with mental focus as good as this one.
We are a better team than them, yes*. Our athletes are bigger and better(finally now that Stout and Jughead have left) as is our training and coaching, but those advantages have failed us before when we didn't have it together mentally. In this game we played to our abilities, the entire game, and the score showed this. 13-4. I have always noticed that the Squids would not blow out teams, even when they were better than them. This happened because with a 2 point lead came jokes and relaxed focus. We'll, now we know what its like to play the entire game with the same focus.
Truthfully, it was hard to stay focused. I did have to constantly remind people to keep the focus on this game that, even if we are ahead, is not over till its over. I did have to remind myself to not watch other games going on around us or get lazy with my throws. But we did, and it should be obvious to us all what that was like and what mental strength that took.
Our last opponent on Saturday was Santa Clara and this game reinforces lessons about focus. They were not as skilled as Clairmont and in fact lost to Clairmont 13-6. Instead of repeating our mental dominance from the first 2 games, we kinda just played the game. 13-7. We didnt really earn many turns, they mostly just gave up the disc. Yeah we won, and by a decent margin, but I hope everyone felt the difference in the team's mental state. It is real and it IS a choice that we make.
Sunday we had LPC. There is a lot to say about the game and they are very skilled so I dont want to take anything away from them, but our mental state played a big roll in the loss. No energy, no sense of urgency, no sustained fire, little focus during the first half. We did better in the second half but its the same old story: If we had played the first like the second we would have won. If we came out Sunday morning like we did Saturday, I am convinced our Sunday result would have been different. No reason we couldn't bring the fire on Sunday. In fact, Sunday should be its own motivation to bring it. But we just didn't.
The Tide game for 5th place? Same story as LPC.
Hopefully we take from the tourney the recognition that there is such a thing as team mental state. We create it and we have power over it IF we acknowledge it and its importance.
* - I actually really like the Braineaters and have for a while. They have a good program with lots of potential. That being said, please, someone slap Markum in the face and tell him to play hard. Remind him of how much fun it is to run one's self ragged instead of walking and yelling IN SUPPORT of your teammates instead of at them.
ps- you can check out a fuller tourney summary on the Air Squid Blog.