How Mindfulness Could Have Helped the Cowboys Win
Seahawks v Cowboys
Dec. 24, 2017
Most believed this was anyone’s game.
Cowboys were looking pretty solid early in the game. They had two field goals, making the score 6-0 with about 4 minutes left in the 2nd quarter when the following happened:
Dez (Cowboys WR) fumbled the ball resulting in a turnover. Seahawks soon capitalized—the first touchdown of the game.
This was the moment I believe things began to shift for the Cowboys—both mentally and emotionally.
THE EMOTIONAL AFTERMATH:
We see a very clear emotional reaction from Dez. Some reporters even described his look as “pouty.”
Fast forward to 4:30 left in the 3rd: Dez makes a great, diving catch from Dak (Cowboys QB).
The emotional balance is restored—or so we think!
Right on the heels of this play, Dez misses his next reception, and off his hands the ball is picked.
Another turnover—ahh, what football drama!
THE MOMENTUM SHIFT:
Dez now appears to be very emotional.
The Seahawks, in turn, begin looking sharper and more poised.
While this is happening the antics on the sideline ensue. Dez is seen yelling at Miles Austin (a member of the coaching staff).
No one appears to be putting a stop to this emotional unravelling.
THE DOMINO EFFECT:
Later, the Cowboys miss a 34-yard field goal and another 48 yarder after that. Dan Bailey (Cowboys K) does not typically miss field goals. Not taking anything else into account, those are 6 points that could have made it 18-21 with a minute left in the game. Not great, but at the very least a fighting chance.
And don’t get me started on Dak’s sacks…
I bring these other moments up because I feel this emotional distress rippled into the team’s overall performance.
One could even argue that this influenced the owner’s box too. Late in the game we see Jerry and company react and lose control of their emotions as well—getting up in disgust and walking out of the box visibly upset by a bad play.
MINDFULNESS & THE SEAHAWKS:
I became a Seahawks “admirer” in 2012 when I learned they hired Michael Gervais, a Mindfulness Consultant, to work with the team.
Just to refresh you, the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl in 2013 and 2014 (winning in 2013).
The Cowboys’ lack of Mindfulness was highlighted by the contrasting focus and momentum that the Seahawks leveraged quite well.
IN A NUTSHELL:
Here is a situation where circumstances got in the way of a very attainable goal:
The Cowboys winning the game and having a chance in the Playoffs.
In this case, it was a series of bad plays--AND THE EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO THESE PLAYS—that got in the way of the goal.
With a Mindfulness practice, Dez’s emotional response would have been a brief moment. That’s it.
For the naysayers or Dez Haters who would say it would not matter: Most anyone can learn basic Mindfulness techniques, even children.
And that is the gift of a mindfulness practice—you can quickly acknowledge something—in this case a difficult emotion—and then have the awareness to move on and truly let the bad play go. This takes practice and a trained professional to teach it.
For a team who talks a lot about “mental toughness,” the mental training in Mindfulness (a key component of mental toughness) was noticeably absent.
MINDFULNESS INTERVENTIONS THAT COULD HAVE HELPED:
1. Slower breathing—at least 5 deep breaths to stop the initial flooding of emotion.
2. A conscious acceptance of the present moment.
3. Intentional focus on how the next series of plays could look. A time to be creative—not to pout.
4. Communication: Instead of the apparent silence on the bench, get up and talk to one another!
A question the team should have been asking themselves: If we are going to win, how would each of the subsequent plays need to look? How do we each need to step up?
A moment of mindful leadership would have been nice. It did not appear to happen.
In conclusion, I will take my own deep breath and reset. This post was so 2017 of me.