Friday, March 12, 2010

Could Texas Longhorns' Downward Slide Have Been Prevented?

The Texas Longhorns' basketball team was ranked #1 in January with a 17-0 record. Since then they are 6-7. What went wrong? Their mindset is what went wrong. Or, more importantly, their head coach Rick Barnes does not seem to think that his team's mindset is in his or his players' control.

Prior to their Big-12 Conference tournament quarterfinal game with Baylor, Coach Barnes said this about assessing his team's psyche:

"I'd really be guessing if I did. Going into every game, I think that they've have the right mindset and when I watch some of the things happen I'm surprised where it comes from. I don't understand it, because I think we've got a group of guys, you would think with the way they have prepared that they would have things down. But when we do some things during the game it makes me wonder, and I don't know how I can answer that."

Barnes and his staff should be able to answer that. That is part of their job. Particularly because, mental mindset is something that you can control. Recent advances in sports psychology and mental conditioning (as evidenced by their usage in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics) are impossible to ignore anymore. The USC and Alabama football teams have used mental conditioning programs to carry their teams to BCS championships in recent years.

Predictably, Texas ran into a buzz-saw at the Big 12 quarterfinals and lost to a Baylor University that clearly had a much better mental mindset. The Baylor Bears won 86-67. Even with the loss to Baylor, Texas will be in the NCAA tournament and they still have time to regroup. But don't count on it.

"I'd like to think we still have time, but it's really mental," Texas forward Gary Johnson said. "It's not like guys aren't playing hard, so that's one positive. It's just the mental part, and I don't know how much time that actually takes to get everybody on the same page mentally. It's been that way for the past two months."

It is about time for coaches to use all the tools they have at their disposal. It is time for basketball to become as progressive as some other sports such as golf, tennis, and the winter sports.

Excerpts taken from

For more mental conditioning tools, click on the Peak Performance eCoach, and request access.

For more on Peak Performance, click on The Handbook of Peak Performance.

1 comment:

Ed Wilfong, Ph.D. said...

I quit coaching kids (volunteer for 15+ yrs) when the leagues became so time constrained that I was unable to work on team building, decision making, attitudes, etc. I didn't feel like a coach anymore.
Coaching is about more than talent, and coaching is more than X's and O's. Barnes should know this by now!