The Seattle Seahawks won their first Super Bowl in 2013 after 39 years of becoming a Football Franchise. To top it off – they are back in the Super Bowl again for the 2014 season. The way they reached the final this season was especially commendable because they had to fight their way back up when they were down 16 to zero.
To execute at this level, to be able to shut out the distractions and focus is of paramount importance. So what is their secret. High-performance sports psychologist Mike Gervais, talks about the regimen that Seattle Seahawks have put together to create a winning organization based on mindfulness.
Pete Carroll the head coach of Seattle Seahawks began to integrate mindfulness program in 2011. For new comers into the program – they start with a short 6 minute breathing exercise. For experienced individuals, the program is more customized. Although meditation is not mandatory, most of the players participate. Yoga on the other hand has become mandatory.
Happy players make better players. Happiness starts with positive thoughts, words and action. But there is a purpose to it. Here is coach Carroll’s mantra “Do your job better than it has ever been done before.”
But how has a team with many who are devoutly religious in the Christian faith able to accept a concept (supposedly) from eastern ideas. The reason is that – there is a scientific underpinning to the process. It’s not about religion. It is as secular as it can get. Just like the muscles of the body need training, the mind needs to be trained too.
Neurotopia brain-performance testing has been implemented recently among some of the players. Status profiles are created for each of the participants. The factors monitored are thing like, their social and family challenges, sleep, goals and stressors. The idea is to monitor and manage the metal health of the players.
Star QB Russell Wilson is a major practicener of this process. Being in the moment, training the mind to function in a chaotic environment, staying calm regardless of the situation are the emotional skills that are developed.
Pete Carroll philosophy: “Always Compete”. But his definition of compete is the original definition – “strive together”. You are pushing yourself to be the best you can be to achieve a common purpose. That purpose is not winning competitions, but being in sync with one another so that it feels like one heartbeat.
The process: starts with finding positive players. Yes the players must have the physical capability, but at the same time they must have a positive attitude. Seattle Seahawks are the only team that spends more time understanding the emotional make of the player as much as the physical capability. Pay attention to word choices. Whether the draft picks are using negative language or finger pointing. The selection team is looking for accountability and optimism. Resilience and resolve are important qualities.
Future of the Seattle Seahawk experiment: It is the vision of the franchise to bring compassion and mindfulness in a sport that is based on machoism and “suck it up” mentality. It is the understanding of the human factors that helps us achieve greatness as an individual and as a team. The wholistic approach that they have successfully implemented will surely win many admirers and a global fan base. Because this is not about just winning a Super Bowl – but it’s about helping each other be the best we can be and accomplish greatness.