Stress blog

Sage advice from a rookie coach

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. December 15, 2010

Professional sports are a reflection of society, whether it's football, basketball, tennis or ice hockey. Crammed into a 60- or 90-minute contest are the hopes, dreams and fears of everyone watching. We look to these games, and the gladiators who play them, to give us guidance and comfort in uncertain times.

A particular American football franchise had world class players at each position yet the team was miserable. The coach became the scapegoat and was dismissed, and a loyal assistant became the head coach. Miraculously, the team's fortunes improved, and they went undefeated for four straight games.

There was nothing particularly magical in the new coach's execution and organization of the game. It was his philosophy that was the catalyst for the team's success. The coach gave his players this advice:

  • Keep your focus sharp. Eliminate distractions.
  • Focus on the present. The past is past. Don't waste energy on what has already happened. The future is a distant vision. All you have is this game and this play in this moment.

Now, this is hardly rocket science or brain surgery (my apologies to my neurosurgery colleagues). But everyone can profit from following this coach's commonsense advice.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has regrets. But if you dwell on the past, you rob yourself of the magic that is the present.


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

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Dec. 15, 2010