Eli Manning Keeps Believing
How important is the mental game in the NFL playoffs? It's such an important factor that it can change the outcome of a competition, especially when you or your teammates are forced to step up and make game-winning plays. The top players in the NFL stay confident, keep the faith in their team's ability to win, and do what is takes to win.
Head coach of the New York Giants, Tom Caughlin, said that his team in part won the 2011 NFC Championship because they will do anything to get the win even through the toughest battles. "They have grit now. They're battle-tested. We've had five straight single elimination games. Somehow, someway we've found a way to scratch our way to a win. We prepare well. The guys really do know what's at stake," Caughlin said.
Staying focused, remaining confident through adversity or hard times, and continuing to believe in yourself or team is not easy, particularly in high-pressure competition, such as playoffs and championship games. Fans, media, or other teams are quick to cast doubt on your ability to win a championship.
Championship teams have the ability to focus on their goals, ignore distractions, and play hard under adversity. Head coach Tom Caughlin commented on the Giants Quarterback, Eli Manning saying that he's successful because he focuses on his job and role on the team, "His focus is on what's necessary for us to win, the position that he plays, the fact that he has to make plays and cannot make a mistake in that regard, and still to get back up the number of times after he was hit, it tells you the kind of courage, the kind of player, the kind of focus, the kind of leader that he is. His performance tonight certainly proves that," Caughlin said after winning the NFC Championship game.
Grinding each game out one at a time, believing in their ability, and finding a way to win were the keys to success that carried the Giants to a super bowl berth. A high level of confidence in one's team to get the job done can be a cure for what ails you. Confidence and belief allows you to play hard until the very last minute of the game.
In the final games of the season and during the playoffs, the Giants have used their tunnel vision to focus on winning one game at a time. Quarter back Eli Manning said that when his team keeps fighting and never gives up, they can win. "These guys never quit, never ever have any doubts. They keep believing and fighting until the very end no matter what the circumstances are. "I think everybody knew we were going to get a break, we were going to get a chance to win this game, we were going to make a play or something was going to happen, if we didn't make a mistake ourselves, and that was the mindset in all phases," Manning said.
How can you develop a strong level of confidence to get the most out of your or your team's talent?
Here are five keys to winning confidence:
1. Don't buy-in to negative Self-Labels. Self-labels you adopt from others or make up on your own, such as big-game choker, are super destructive beliefs that hold back athletes from reaching full potential and performing well under adversity. You can easily discard what others say about your ability, but it's very hard to discard your own negative self-labels.
2. Be careful of super strict expectations that sabotage confidence. When you demand that you play at your peak every game or that you make no mistakes or turnovers in a game, this thinking can come back to haunt you, especially when you fall short of your expectations.
3. Overcome your internal demons. Part of staying confident is battling your own internal self-doubt. No one is perfect and in times of adversity and mistakes, it's tough not to doubt your ability to win. I teach my students how to counter self-doubt with statements of confidence so they don't allow it to erode their confidence.
4. Be your own best coach. When you're faced with adversity or down in a game, do you lose faith or continue to grind it out? Does the self-talk turn negative or defeatist? The top athletes don't give in or give up. They look for opportunities, such as big plays or turnovers, to turn around the outcome of a game.
5. Use your past experience to feel confident today. Most athletes would say that past success and experience is the number one source they have for feeling confident today. You can tap into past success to help you feel confident today by reviewing in your mind past accomplishments. Ask yourself: Why do you deserve to feel confident today?