Monday, January 9

The Alabama Championship Formula & Softball

The Alabama Crimson Tide football team just finished capturing the BCS National Championship in a dominating fashion over previously unbeaten and SEC rival LSU 21-0. But it was really how Alabama won that any sports parent, athlete or coach should be paying attention to.

It's not an accident that Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban won his third National Championship (the first one, ironically, at LSU). His team played nearly flawlessly on the biggest stage in college football. He and his coaching staff did a phenomenal job coaching and mentally preparing their kids for the pressures that awaited them in the Louisiana Superdome.

So what is Alabama's championship formula and how can you and your athlete benefit from both understanding and implementing it?

1. Poise - In the biggest game in these players' lives it was Alabama  that played poised ball. Because they were poised they did not make mistakes during big plays. In fact, their defense caused mistakes because of their poise. All night long the Alabama players displayed poised body language. Excelling under extreme pressure is the mark of a champion...and it takes poise and ice water in the veins to do so.

2. Confidence - It was clear from start to finish that Alabama was the more confident team. Their poise is, in part, a product of their collective self-confidence. They were able to play aggressively on offense, defense and special teams because of their confidence. The LSU quarterback, by comparison, seemed to hesitate all night...showing his lack of self-confidence.

AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

3. Positive Energy - Alabama's coaches had their team fired up for sure, but their individual and collective energy was amazingly focused and it allowed them to stay disciplined on the field and make plays. Theirs was certainly "can do" energy.  LSU, on the other hand, did not have positive energy. It was easy to see the Tigers "can't do" energy as the camera panned the sideline and zoomed in on their star players.

4. Expectations - As you would expect in a national title game both teams likely expected to win. After all, LSU handed Alabama their only loss earlier in the season. However, as the game wore on it was clear that Alabama was more prepared mentally. LSU made several mistakes at key moments that collectively seemed to deflate the team. While Alabama stayed on attack mode. The Crimson Tide played with that calm confidence that champions have. They expected success at every turn and achieved it.

5. Teamwork - Football requires great teamwork, however Alabama's performance was one of the most selfless I have seen in college football. No dancing, no "me" displays after a big play. Their goal was a national championship and it took an elevated level of teamwork to get the job done in such a convincing manner.

6. Focus - None of the above five points would have mattered if Alabama was unable to exert such tremendous mental focus throughout the game. This after the Crimson Tide lost their #1 receiver and team leader early in the game. Against such a tough opponent Alabama needed to be mentally prepared with a zen like focus to play as well as they did on such a gargantuan stage.

7. Effort - I saved the best for last...effort. Last night's game was truly inspiring to me as a sports parent and coach to see the herculean effort Alabama put forth. Each play LSU ran it seemed like four or five 'Bama players were swarming on the ball carrier. Because they were focused there were virtually no missed tackles. No name receivers were diving and stretching out for balls like their lives depended on it. Effort is always a choice and it was clear that Alabama simply wanted it more last night.

To recap Alabama's championship formula: poise, confidence, positive energy, expectations for success, teamwork, focus, and effort. If your athlete and her team can employ the same strategy they may be holding a trophy of their own soon!

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