These were the “inspirational” words yelled at the Iowa State basketball team by their coach at the start of overtime in a game against (my) Kansas Jayhawks a few days ago.
You see, the last time the two teams met in January, something very similar happened. The Jayhawks were down with only a few seconds to go in regulation when a last second shot tied the game, sending it into overtime.
The game this week ended just as the game in January did: the Jayhawks won in overtime.
“They’re not going to steal it like they did last time!” And that’s exactly what they did because the thought of having the game stolen AGAIN was planted in the minds of every Iowa State basketball player that heard their coach yell it. He may have said, “They’re NOT going to steal it…,” but their subconscious’ heard, “Oh no, they’re going to steal it just like they did last time.”
In regulation, Iowa State set a school record with 17 3-point shots. In overtime, they scored only 6 points, none of them 3’s. They played deflated, as if they’d already been defeated because the coach reminded them of what happened last time and a memory feels just like an experience. In this case, the experience of defeat.
How you talk to others and how you talk to yourself (either in your head or out loud) affects the outcome. If you’re focusing on not failing, on not looking stupid, on not losing…you’ll get exactly what you focus on: failing, looking stupid and losing. Instead of focusing on avoiding the negative, focus on achieving the positive. Strive to succeed! Strive to look smart! Strive to win!
What could have (should have) the Iowa State coach said to his team? Here’s what I would have said:
“That was a bad call that put us into overtime. We’ve outplayed them all night long. We just have to do it for 5 more minutes! Can you outplay them for 5 more minutes?!”
If the coach would have said that, I bet the Jayhawks wouldn’t have stolen that game…again.
Photo courtesy of ABC News.