Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the PCA Blog from Positive Coaching Alliance. Positive Coaching Alliance is helping to advance the Players First pillars of Coaching Education, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety.
The Minnesota Vikings star wide-receiver Adam Thielen knows as well as any athlete that it is essential to not dwell on mistakes made in games, and to move on to the next play immediately. One tactic to help players quickly forget about a mistake is by utilizing a "mistake ritual." A mistake ritual is a physical gesture or movement that athletes use to acknowledge that they made a mistake, and then leave it behind them to focus on the next play.
Thielen has adopted his own mistake ritual that he calls, "the flush" to help him recover from his mistakes. The star receiver had to use "the flush" in a major spot, just a few weeks ago when the Minnesota Vikings defeated the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs. After fumbling and turning the ball over early in the game, Thielen "flushed" the mistake away and went on to help carry the Vikings to a victory with an outstanding performance. Courtney Cronin, Minnesota Vikings reporter for ESPN, goes into more detail about Thielen's "flush" ritual, in this twitter thread:
Adam Thielen talked about a motivational tactic postgame that he picked up in college. It's called "flushing the toilet." After Thielen fumbled on the Vikings opening drive, he did a motion where he pushed down on an imaginary toilet flush valve - his way of forgetting about the— Courtney Cronin (@CourtneyRCronin) January 5, 2020
"It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, it doesn’t matter what happened in the season or what happened the last play, there’s always an opportunity to make the next play. You can’t let it affect you and I think that’s the great thing about this locker room that everybody has that mindset where yeah I made a mistake, but I’m going to be out there fighting." - Adam Thielen
PCA encourages players, coaches, and parents to develop their own individual mistake rituals, through PCA workshops. When youth athletes make mistakes, their initial response is often to look at their coach or parent, to read their reaction. Seeing a mistake ritual, such as "flush it" or "brush it off" can be a reassuring boost of confidence that that mistake is behind them and they're on to the next play.
Read the complete article from Positive Coaching Alliance here.
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