After going to two weeks of practices, I thought I knew the Kilmacud Crokes pretty well. As talked about in my previous post, they are a fun, goofy team who works hard for what they do. The game was held on a Sunday morning and the coach hadn’t told us much about the competition of the game. Even though I had been to Croke Park and seen some of the top players play, I knew this game would be different. I thought to it would be less competitive and more friendly since I had seen how they acted in practices. I was wrong.
After arriving to the game a little late, I saw a lot of competition, a lot of battles, and a lot of swearing right off the bat. The players were no longer goofing around, they were focused on one goal: winning. By the end of the first half they were up 8-0. With everyone focusing on the same goal, they were able to work together to achieve it. With such a lead going into the second half, they believed in themselves and continued to fight even harder. During half time the team all came together and wrapped their arms around one another with the head coach, John, in the middle and other two coaches joining in the huddle with the players. The coach talked about all the positive things they had done and then told them to quit swearing. He ended the huddle by saying “alright let’s finish this game and move onto the next.”
During practice there were always at least 3 players sitting out due to injuries, then there were 2-3 players that would stop halfway through drills due to pain. Throughout the game, every player that was there, played at some point. If one got injured during the game, one of the coaches would bring water to them and they would continue to play. No one walked off the field. During the game, their skill level increased and they no longer worried about their injuries. They pushed themselves through the pain. By mastering their skills, pushing themselves, and winning against their opponents they demonstrated some main components of being mental tough (Connaughton, Hanton, Jones, 2010).
At the beginning of the game, the weather was not ideal. It was pouring for the first quarter of the game, however they were able to cope and still play at their best. This also shows mental toughness because they knew they could not control their environment and did not see this as negative. They were able to overcome and cope with the weather, still performing at their best (Jones, Hanton, Connaughton, 2007).
After Game Thoughts
After the game, the team ran in, stretched, and then met for a couple minutes. While stretching, they talked about their success and shared some laughs. When the coaches came in, they met for a brief couple of minutes. John said good job, talked about the referees and calls that were made but then focused on the upcoming practices and championship game that would be held next week.
After the game was done, the focus was solely on the upcoming game. He no longer talked about the positive aspects of the game they had just won, he talked about what they needed to do to defeat the team in the next game. The team knew that it was not time to celebrate success, but to focus on the upcoming challenge (Jones, Hanton, Connaughton, 2007). They told us that after the championship game that’s when they would go out to celebrate and have drinks.
With three practices last week, one tonight, and the championship game tomorrow, I am not sure what to expect. John told us that this game would be tougher, but with additional practices I am excited to see what happens.
Connaughton, D., Hanton, S., & Jones, G. (2010). The Development and Maintenance of Mental Toughness in the World’s Best Performers. Sport Psychologist, 24(2). 168-193.
Jones, G., Hanton, S., & Connaughton, D. (2007). A framework of mental toughness in the world’s best performers. Sport Psychologist, 21(2).