Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The 2013 BCS Championship and "The Process" of Winning

"There's no mention of titles. Instead his message has been that the way to win a championship is to concentrate on what you're doing today, and build on that tomorrow."

"The scoreboard has nothing to do with the process. Each possession you look across at the opponent and commit yourself to dominate that person....If you can focus on the one possession and wipe out the distractions...then you will be satisfied with the result. "

It's January 8, 2013, and another BCS Football Champion has been crowned. It comes to little surprise to many that the team on top is the often-polarizing Alabama Crimson Tide. Love them or hate them (let's face it, there's little middle ground here), one things that stands out in comparison to other programs is Head Coach Nick Saban's constant emphasis on "The Process".

The above quotes illustrate what Saban means when he refers to "The Process". Championships are won one step at a time. Sport is often gritty, unpolished, and repetitive. In reality it is not the glamorous show that we see on national television.  Consistent success is usually not flashy. In between competitions, there are thousands of moments where an athlete works out, makes mistakes, takes lessons from mistakes, eats, sleeps, and so on. Not to mention the mental conditioning that happens in addition to the physical work involved. Consistent success comes not from perfection, but attention to detail and taking a here-and-(only)-now approach.

In an interesting article published late last year in Sports Illustrated, author Andy Staples presents an inside look at Nick Saban's famously brusque persona and his attention on working every detail in the process of becoming a champion. He brought in experts to help the program, such as nutritionists and a also mental training coach so his athletes could feed their bodies and minds. "They were to learn how to eat differently; they were taught how to think differently", according to Staples.  The importance of adding these aspects is that they are important on a day-day basis, not just on the big stage.

In my practice, I often have athletes I work with set process goals; often on a daily basis. When the focus is on the immediate and controllable, the results will take care of themselves. To be successful in sports and life, it really does come down to what you do on a daily basis. Are you focusing on the things that will make you successful that day? Again, regardless of the public's opinion of the program and the results of the game. The Crimson Tide football program provides a good model of what happens with a steady emphasis on the task at hand. May we all learn to attend to "The Process" a little more in our training and lives in general.

One thing an athlete can incorporate immediately is to begin to shift their focus from winning, and perhaps more importantly-what 'not to do', to a commitment on focusing on what 'to do'. It comes down to those thousands of moments in between competition where winning takes place. And it often isn't flashy-but the results can be.

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