Football & Therapy: Focusing on the Fundamentals for a Winning Season
Fall is finally upon us. It is my favorite season because the trees turn bright, the weather cools down, and football is back. From local peewee leagues and Friday night lights, all the way to the NFL, off-season preparation has been building to this moment. Hopes are high because anything can happen. For some, this season will be one full of triumphs and highlight-reel performances. For others, there will be upsets and injuries.
In football, as in life, not every season will end with us as champions. Though we prefer winning seasons, we know there are plenty of losing seasons, rebuilding seasons, and sometimes, seasons so off that a total reset is needed. But however a season plays out, all records all records eventually reset to 0-0. When preparing for a new season, there are two choices: Playing for the crowd's expectations, or playing to your potential.
Playing for the Crowd's Expectations
If you are the player, then think of your friends/family/coworkers as your cheering section.
They wear your team jersey.
They lift you up when you make the game-winning play, and their heart breaks when an opponent gets the best of you.
They boo when the referee calls in your opponent’s favor (even when it’s clearly the right call).
You can do no wrong (until losses start piling up)
Fan attendance at games is heavily tied to performance. There are die-hards who attend every outing, but they are a distinct minority of the overall fanbase. They are the ones who track statistics and stay through a blowout game in pouring rain. Fair-weather fans, alternatively, show up for winning seasons and big moments. Their interest in the season goes as far as your winning streak. For the crowd, it rarely matters exactly how you win, so long as you are winning. Right or wrong, when fans don’t have faith in the team, ticket sales drop. Empty stands get emptier.
So how do you turn around a losing streak?
Playing to Your Potential
When a losing streak grows too long, teams look to outside help for a new game plan. Think of therapists as outside coaching specialists with an objective, outside view. Specifically:
They are students of the game you are playing, dedicating their careers to watching film and reading about maximizing performance.
With their knowledge, they help you recognize and pursue your potential.
They see holes in your game and aid in build a program to address them.
They have experienced great players going through slumps, only to emerge stronger on the other side.
Focus on the Fundamentals
A therapist’s dedication and focus is not contingent on your performance; your willingness to seek help is enough. Therapists will help you focus on the fundamentals. For example: Are you getting the necessary nutrients from your diet? How much water do you drink in a day vs soda/coffee/alcohol? How many hours of good sleep are you getting? How often do you exercise? Do you take time to relax and recharge?
Again: Food. Hydration. Sleep. Exercise.
These are the universal components that everyone needs to manage as a baseline. Disruptions in any of these core areas can impact day-to-day functioning. If you are struggling in any of these areas, the good news is that even small changes can make a big difference.
Beyond addressing these areas, a therapist tailors their approach to what will maximize your individual needs based on your specific goals. They want you to win just as much as you do. They believe in you. Their reward is seeing you grow every day you come to practice.
So, when it's Game Time, enjoy cheers from the stands, but don’t live for them. Savor the wins, big and small. Be the best player/teammate/person you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Focus on the fundamentals. There are so many wins in your future.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Even when you don’t believe in yourself, there are so many people who believe in you. If you or someone you know are struggling, help is available.
Suicide Hotlines in The United States
Crisis Text Line
Text HOME to 741741
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-877-565-8860 (for the transgender community)
1-866-488-7386 (for LGBTQ youth)
Veterans Crisis Line
1-800-273-8255, Press 1