Sports Psychology- Big Time Athletes (a bit long)

#1

Ft.MyersVols

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#1
Backstory- I am a UT grad and long-time fan but now work in a major ACC athletics department that takes sports psychology seriously, and has won numerous national championships recently.

When looking at the struggle of the Vol football team, one thing that is not getting a lot of attention is the psychology (or mindset) of the players during the game, while in the heat of the battle. Regardless of whether it's Bama, UT, Clemson or some small DIII school, the mindset of the player during the game is huge. Look at the BYU game for two specific examples:

The breakdown of Alontae Taylor during the long pass at the end of the game- he looks, and acts, like he was ready to jump the route. He loses sight of the receiver because he is appearing to look in the backfield. In a video posted showing Theo Jackson, he states that the coaches instructed them to keep the receivers in front of them and to keep them in bounds. The coaches told them to do the right thing, but somewhere during the play, Alontae didn't recognize, didn't think, etc. and made the wrong decision. There was a breakdown that hurt the team big-time. This is where the psychology/mindset comes in.

Another example is the play of JG over time- why does he always seem to check down even when he has time to scan the field? Is he panicking? I have a hard time believing that Chavis, Tee, whomever, is telling him to look short and outside first on every pass play, yet that seems to be where he is throwing. He can play perfectly in practice yet panic under the lights, in front of thousands of fans, on TV, etc. Personally, I was that way (although not in front of thousands of people, TV, etc.). I would play great in practice yet as soon as game time came around I was a nervous wreck.

So my question is...are the UT football players in the right mindset to play at this level? Yes, they can have 4 and 5-star talent, but if they don't have what it takes upstairs then talent will only get them so far. I'm talking about things like- are they too hyped up (pre-game music, food, etc.), can they think and process during the play or do they freeze (deer in headlights), are they even listening to coaches (this is not always a coaching issue, many times it's a player issue), etc.? At this level (or at least at Bama and Clemson's level), the talent separation is very small. So what sets them apart? Proper mindset...thoughts???
 
#2

BleedinOrange98

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#2
They are not very bright, that's for sure. Also they've played with puckered buttholes for the past several years. The last time the Vols played truly loose was Lane Kiffin's year and Dooley's first year. After that it's been non-stop tensions.
 
#3

TNHopeful505

Got 99 Problems, But A Butch Ain't One
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#3
I know people will laugh, but Alabama has done this for years. Saban believes very strongly in it, and it's part of his recruiting. Here is a link about Kevin Elko, who is their psychologist.

I definitely think there is value in this, and judging where UT is culturally speaking, this would have a huge benefit to us right now. Physical traits are great, but if your mind and body arent on the same page, you wont have it.

Alabama's "head" coach: Kevin Elko instrumental in developing the top-ranked Tide
 
#4

DonDiego

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#4
Backstory- I am a UT grad and long-time fan but now work in a major ACC athletics department that takes sports psychology seriously, and has won numerous national championships recently.

When looking at the struggle of the Vol football team, one thing that is not getting a lot of attention is the psychology (or mindset) of the players during the game, while in the heat of the battle. Regardless of whether it's Bama, UT, Clemson or some small DIII school, the mindset of the player during the game is huge. Look at the BYU game for two specific examples:

The breakdown of Alontae Taylor during the long pass at the end of the game- he looks, and acts, like he was ready to jump the route. He loses sight of the receiver because he is appearing to look in the backfield. In a video posted showing Theo Jackson, he states that the coaches instructed them to keep the receivers in front of them and to keep them in bounds. The coaches told them to do the right thing, but somewhere during the play, Alontae didn't recognize, didn't think, etc. and made the wrong decision. There was a breakdown that hurt the team big-time. This is where the psychology/mindset comes in.

Another example is the play of JG over time- why does he always seem to check down even when he has time to scan the field? Is he panicking? I have a hard time believing that Chavis, Tee, whomever, is telling him to look short and outside first on every pass play, yet that seems to be where he is throwing. He can play perfectly in practice yet panic under the lights, in front of thousands of fans, on TV, etc. Personally, I was that way (although not in front of thousands of people, TV, etc.). I would play great in practice yet as soon as game time came around I was a nervous wreck.

So my question is...are the UT football players in the right mindset to play at this level? Yes, they can have 4 and 5-star talent, but if they don't have what it takes upstairs then talent will only get them so far. I'm talking about things like- are they too hyped up (pre-game music, food, etc.), can they think and process during the play or do they freeze (deer in headlights), are they even listening to coaches (this is not always a coaching issue, many times it's a player issue), etc.? At this level (or at least at Bama and Clemson's level), the talent separation is very small. So what sets them apart? Proper mindset...thoughts???
You say you're in a major ACC athletic department that takes sports psychology seriously. Are you in the psychology end of things? You seem to have some insight as to what is going on with these guys, but not a lot of conclusions. Could these guys be helped with more psychological analysis? Wouldn't you think a school with the athletic resources of UT would employ some people like that?
 
#6

volfanatic24

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#6
They are not very bright, that's for sure. Also they've played with puckered buttholes for the past several years. The last time the Vols played truly loose was Lane Kiffin's year and Dooley's first year. After that it's been non-stop tensions.
Backstory- I am a UT grad and long-time fan but now work in a major ACC athletics department that takes sports psychology seriously, and has won numerous national championships recently.

When looking at the struggle of the Vol football team, one thing that is not getting a lot of attention is the psychology (or mindset) of the players during the game, while in the heat of the battle. Regardless of whether it's Bama, UT, Clemson or some small DIII school, the mindset of the player during the game is huge. Look at the BYU game for two specific examples:

The breakdown of Alontae Taylor during the long pass at the end of the game- he looks, and acts, like he was ready to jump the route. He loses sight of the receiver because he is appearing to look in the backfield. In a video posted showing Theo Jackson, he states that the coaches instructed them to keep the receivers in front of them and to keep them in bounds. The coaches told them to do the right thing, but somewhere during the play, Alontae didn't recognize, didn't think, etc. and made the wrong decision. There was a breakdown that hurt the team big-time. This is where the psychology/mindset comes in.

Another example is the play of JG over time- why does he always seem to check down even when he has time to scan the field? Is he panicking? I have a hard time believing that Chavis, Tee, whomever, is telling him to look short and outside first on every pass play, yet that seems to be where he is throwing. He can play perfectly in practice yet panic under the lights, in front of thousands of fans, on TV, etc. Personally, I was that way (although not in front of thousands of people, TV, etc.). I would play great in practice yet as soon as game time came around I was a nervous wreck.

So my question is...are the UT football players in the right mindset to play at this level? Yes, they can have 4 and 5-star talent, but if they don't have what it takes upstairs then talent will only get them so far. I'm talking about things like- are they too hyped up (pre-game music, food, etc.), can they think and process during the play or do they freeze (deer in headlights), are they even listening to coaches (this is not always a coaching issue, many times it's a player issue), etc.? At this level (or at least at Bama and Clemson's level), the talent separation is very small. So what sets them apart? Proper mindset...thoughts???

i don't know if the coaches are telling him to do that or is it the fact that he got murder last year when he did take his time, and that he just doesn't trust his line anymore. the line is by far better than last year, and he has regressed so much.
 
#7

FLVOL_79

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#7
Over analyzing this. They are football players. They are square peg round hole types..not in the sense that they dont fit in society but in the sense that the infant game of matching the square peg with the square hole proved a difficult endeavor throughout their lives.
 
#8

Vol-in-Atlanta

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#8
Backstory- I am a UT grad and long-time fan but now work in a major ACC athletics department that takes sports psychology seriously, and has won numerous national championships recently.

When looking at the struggle of the Vol football team, one thing that is not getting a lot of attention is the psychology (or mindset) of the players during the game, while in the heat of the battle. Regardless of whether it's Bama, UT, Clemson or some small DIII school, the mindset of the player during the game is huge. Look at the BYU game for two specific examples:

The breakdown of Alontae Taylor during the long pass at the end of the game- he looks, and acts, like he was ready to jump the route. He loses sight of the receiver because he is appearing to look in the backfield. In a video posted showing Theo Jackson, he states that the coaches instructed them to keep the receivers in front of them and to keep them in bounds. The coaches told them to do the right thing, but somewhere during the play, Alontae didn't recognize, didn't think, etc. and made the wrong decision. There was a breakdown that hurt the team big-time. This is where the psychology/mindset comes in.

Another example is the play of JG over time- why does he always seem to check down even when he has time to scan the field? Is he panicking? I have a hard time believing that Chavis, Tee, whomever, is telling him to look short and outside first on every pass play, yet that seems to be where he is throwing. He can play perfectly in practice yet panic under the lights, in front of thousands of fans, on TV, etc. Personally, I was that way (although not in front of thousands of people, TV, etc.). I would play great in practice yet as soon as game time came around I was a nervous wreck.

So my question is...are the UT football players in the right mindset to play at this level? Yes, they can have 4 and 5-star talent, but if they don't have what it takes upstairs then talent will only get them so far. I'm talking about things like- are they too hyped up (pre-game music, food, etc.), can they think and process during the play or do they freeze (deer in headlights), are they even listening to coaches (this is not always a coaching issue, many times it's a player issue), etc.? At this level (or at least at Bama and Clemson's level), the talent separation is very small. So what sets them apart? Proper mindset...thoughts???
Unfortunately this analysis has a lot of merit. I'm not sure the best way to change the situation, but I believe it's true.
 
#12

keenobserver

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#12
Backstory- I am a UT grad and long-time fan but now work in a major ACC athletics department that takes sports psychology seriously, and has won numerous national championships recently.

When looking at the struggle of the Vol football team, one thing that is not getting a lot of attention is the psychology (or mindset) of the players during the game, while in the heat of the battle. Regardless of whether it's Bama, UT, Clemson or some small DIII school, the mindset of the player during the game is huge. Look at the BYU game for two specific examples:

The breakdown of Alontae Taylor during the long pass at the end of the game- he looks, and acts, like he was ready to jump the route. He loses sight of the receiver because he is appearing to look in the backfield. In a video posted showing Theo Jackson, he states that the coaches instructed them to keep the receivers in front of them and to keep them in bounds. The coaches told them to do the right thing, but somewhere during the play, Alontae didn't recognize, didn't think, etc. and made the wrong decision. There was a breakdown that hurt the team big-time. This is where the psychology/mindset comes in.

Another example is the play of JG over time- why does he always seem to check down even when he has time to scan the field? Is he panicking? I have a hard time believing that Chavis, Tee, whomever, is telling him to look short and outside first on every pass play, yet that seems to be where he is throwing. He can play perfectly in practice yet panic under the lights, in front of thousands of fans, on TV, etc. Personally, I was that way (although not in front of thousands of people, TV, etc.). I would play great in practice yet as soon as game time came around I was a nervous wreck.

So my question is...are the UT football players in the right mindset to play at this level? Yes, they can have 4 and 5-star talent, but if they don't have what it takes upstairs then talent will only get them so far. I'm talking about things like- are they too hyped up (pre-game music, food, etc.), can they think and process during the play or do they freeze (deer in headlights), are they even listening to coaches (this is not always a coaching issue, many times it's a player issue), etc.? At this level (or at least at Bama and Clemson's level), the talent separation is very small. So what sets them apart? Proper mindset...thoughts???
Nice post....But I kept waiting on a clinical solution to our players psychological problems..
 
#13

Ft.MyersVols

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#13
You say you're in a major ACC athletic department that takes sports psychology seriously. Are you in the psychology end of things? You seem to have some insight as to what is going on with these guys, but not a lot of conclusions. Could these guys be helped with more psychological analysis? Wouldn't you think a school with the athletic resources of UT would employ some people like that?
I personally am not in the psychology side of things, but it is well-known within the department that it is a major focus.. I am just asking the question because I don't know how UT operates when it comes to this. I would most definitely make the assumption that UT has a person in this role, but again, I'm just asking the question...
 
#14

PEPPERJAX

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#14
This may or may not apply but I had a great conversation a few years back with former Vol and headhunter Fred White. It has been a while so sorry for paraphrasing. Asked him about our decline when Dooley was canned after 2012 and the Butch era.

“The 90s- early 2000 Vols were not scared to play anyone. During the coin toss the majority of the time, the opposing team knew the game was over before it even started. If the other team won the toss & elected to defer, we were going to make them pay for it and take the opening kickoff to the house even if that meant running out of the end zone to prove a point. We welcomed the challenge. If we did not house it, so what, the mentality never changed, and we felt we would score the next time. I saw a lot of players brought in by Dooley and now by butch that play soft not all of them but too many. That mentality trickles down from the coaches to players. The coaches coached not to lose rather than being aggressive and going for the jugular. The players will feed off the mentality good or bad. The 2015 Oklahoma game is a perfect example of what I am talking about. Any good coach would have sealed that one up barring something catastrophic. Don’t even get me started on Dooley. He just showed up to collect a check.”



Thought you guys might have found these comments interesting. I hope we do not see another coaching change with CJP and see something better moving forward.
 
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#17

VolNExile

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#17
Always interesting to see the "just do it" crowd post.

Sports psychologists are famous for helping athletes in individual sports (golf, tennis). Somehow their role gets overlooked when it comes to team sports.

Everyone's brain can get stuck in nonproductive ruts. Maybe JG is in the "once burned, a thousand times shy" category, and could use some help in reprogramming these almost instinctive reactions. It's not necessarily something that you can just shrug off.

It's pitiful when someone acts as if benefiting from a sports psychologist means that they were weak or something. Ask the VA about what it takes to help veterans with PTSD. Brains can come up with survival mechanisms that are helpful in some ways and not so much in others. It usually takes some outside insight and support to re-route the thinking patterns.
 
#19

XknoxvolsX

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#19
Sometimes, you just have to lower your head and get what you can on a play.

As far as the DB's allowing the receiver to get behind them, everyone who has ever played the game knows and understands that, that is not suppose to happen. Then again, if we were good (athletic), then the DB's would have been able to catch back up to the receiver.
 

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