Nick Saban’s “Process” a case study in the mental game

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Alabama football coach Nick Saban and “The Process”

When people think of Alabama football, the first thing to come to mind might be “tradition.”  From the classic Crimson uniforms, to the legend of Bear Bryant, to the long line of SEC and national championships, Alabama football is something of a mainstay in college football.   But to stay on top, more progressive thinking is in order.  That’s where Coach Nick Saban’s “Process”  comes in.

From the Sports Illustrated College Football Preview edition:

“Instead of talking about wins and championships, Saban speaks about the Process. In its most basic form, the Process is Saban’s term for concentrating on the steps to success rather than worrying about the end result. Instead of thinking about the scoreboard, think about dominating the man on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. Instead of thinking about a conference title, think about finishing a ninth rep in the weight room. Instead of thinking about graduating, think about writing a great paper for Intro to Psych.”

This is straight from the sport psychology playbook.  Focusing on the present moment (executing the current play) instead of the past (an earlier mistake) or future (the result) is the essense of a mentally tough athlete.  When the “Process” is followed consistently, it gives the best chance to get the result you want.

While Saban’s coaching speaks for itself in titles, it is impressive to hear that he does not take all the credit:

“Though it may come as a shock to many, Saban is more comfortable than most of his colleagues in admitting what he doesn’t know. In his quest to train the whole player, he realizes he can’t address the mental aspect of the game as well as a sports psychiatrist. When he was head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Saban hired Trevor Moawad, the director of performance at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to work with his players. He now uses Moawad as a consultant at ‘Bama. While Moawad’s efforts don’t provide empirical data—a change in attitude can’t be quantified like an increase in bench press—Saban and the players have noticed results.”

So hiring a sport psychology consultant is the next wave of big time football programs, right?  We’d like to think so, but there are still some obstacles, as Moawad points out in the artlce:

“Probably one of the toughest things for these coaches to do is convince their administrations that the investment in these other areas is important,” Moawad says. “The athletic director says, ‘Well, isn’t that your job?'”

The head coach for any sport has to think about more factors than he can handle.  There are coaches for each position, coordinators for each side of the ball, academic tutors, nutritionists, strength and conditioning specialists.  The misconception is that head football coaches are specialists in the mental game.  Nick Saban is ahead of the curve on this one.   Would you like to be ahead of the curve?   Contact SPINw to see what we can do for your athletes! |  1-888-885-5570

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