• Tim Crone: Mental toughness is what football's all about

  • Fall provides me with the opportunity to work at football games at all levels – high school, NCAA Division II and the professional level.

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  • Fall provides me with the opportunity to work at football games at all levels – high school, NCAA Division II and the professional level.
    All three have many things in common. The most obvious is that the No. 1 need of any team is talent. To be totally overmatched in football is nearly impossible to overcome. In a lot of cases the talent is somewhat even, in which case mental toughness and discipline kick in to make a difference.
    Last Friday I watched a tremendously talented and mentally tough high school team – the team is able to dominate their opponents on a regular basis. On Saturday I saw a college team with improving talent – it has begun to establish a mental toughness that allows them to compete against teams that may be more gifted. Finally the game on Sunday – a professional team with close to the same amount of talent as the competition but very little mental toughness. The team was in self-destruct mode nearly the entire game.
    Mental toughness is the ability to have enough discipline to limit penalties and mistakes. A mentally tough team is able to function without turnovers and, in the event of a turnover, is able to limit the results.
    In football, as is the case with all sports, mistakes, penalties and violations will determine the ultimate outcome of the game. In my coaching career I preached and preached that the little things are what make a team great. Good teams just do not make mistakes. A prime example of mental toughness is Kansas State University and coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats almost never shoot themselves in the foot.
    How does a team develop mental toughness? It has to be a constant process – day in and day out. If you allow slip-ups in practice, it opens the door to slip-ups in pressure situations. My favorite coaching situations arose out of taking a team with average talent to a whole new level with preparation and mental toughness.
    n The Ryder Cup is the greatest golf event. A golfer who has a love of football feels right at home!
    n The new format should add excitement to the Major League Baseball playoffs for a few more teams. It will be interesting to see how it works out.
    n My quote this week is from Boston Celtics great John Havlicek: “Over the years, I have pushed myself mentally and I have pushed myself physically. A lot of people say, ‘John Havlicek never gets tired.’ Well, I get tired, It’s just a matter of pushing myself. I say to myself, ‘He’s as tired as I am; who’s going to win the mental battle?’ It’s just a matter of mental toughness.”

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