I’ve watched a little of the NCAA basketball tournament this year and read quite a bit about the teams, women’s as well as men’s, that are playing. Two things have stood out to me. One is the tremendous importance of mental toughness in making it deep into the tournament. The other, just how significant a role fundamentals play in getting to the next level. Standing out matters to kids and parents, but you really need to be well versed in the fundamentals to be great.
This week’s links focus in on these two factors beginning with the tremendous resilience shown by the Mississippi State women’s team. We also see the focus on fundamentals and the mental toughness of perennial contender UNC men, who won their game by rebounding well when all else was failing them.
On to the links…
March Madness Mental Toughness
Mississippi State’s Stunning Upset of UConn (Times Picayunne)
Mississippi State (33-5) and UConn met in the Sweet 16 last season and the Huskies won by 60 points — the most-lopsided win in regional semifinals history. All season long the Bulldogs had that humiliating loss on their minds.
Now they’ve erased that defeat, beating UConn (36-1) — which had won the last four national championships — on the grandest stage in one of the sport’s greatest games.
Connecticut’s 111-Game Winning Streak (NY Times)
“They beat us,” Coach Geno Auriemma said. “They took us away from the things that we like to do. We didn’t have the kind of maturity that you need to win at this level at this time of the year.”
Gonzaga Wins (Spokane-Review)
The games keep getting bigger. Gonzaga keeps getting better, particularly in crunch time.
South Carolina Drops Heartbreaker (SEC Country)
And it came oh-so-painfully close after it looked like all was lost. The Gamecocks made a frantic second-half comeback, as they have so many times in the postseason. But it was not enough, as the No. 1-seeded Zags had too much in the end.
North Carolina Back to Finals (Sports Illustrated)
“Not a lot of teams get another shot at it,” Tar Heels forward Theo Pinson said. “Just the way that game ended, for us to finish and dig in and find a way to win—we’ve been through everything now.”
In 1972, when the gender equity law known as Title IX was enacted, women were head coaches of more than 90 percent of women’s college teams across two dozen sports. Now that number has decreased to about 40 percent.
Training Mental Toughness
3 Things I Learned from John Kiely (HMMR Media)
Once you understand this complexity, you cannot ignore the need for an individualized approach to training. On the one-hand you have to understand how each layer affects each individual athlete. Then you have to use tools and techniques to switch off stress that might not be helping the athlete adapt the way we want. Stress is good, as long as it is focused on our goals. Other stress just distracts us and holds us back. Kiely provided some great examples of how coaches can gain control over stress. The number one way is through feedback, which gives us a view of the current situation.
Six Exercises for Developing Mental Toughness (Strategic Athlete)
3.) Learn to ignore the things that you cannot control
In Ryan Holliday’s book, The Obstacle is the Way he talks about the philosophy of Stoicism or the ability to endure pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.
The basic premise is: It’s not what happens to you, it is how you react that really matters.
Develop Mental Toughness on the Court (USA Basketball)
Although Headley offers lessons in defensive play, it accounts for only 4 percent of the instruction he and his staff conduct. Hitting instruction accounts for 75 percent of the private lessons, and pitching lessons make up the remaining 21 percent.
“It’s what people come to private facilities for,” Headley said. “We have it all, but that’s what they ask for.”