Paul O'Connell didn't know what he was doing but Mayo have it sussed.

Erudite Caveman

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“I was shocked by his preparation,” she explains. “I was really going down there thinking that this guy had it sussed and that his preparation would be really good and that I would come away with a lot of detail about sports psychology. But he obviously was doing nothing and his preparation was not good.
Says sports psychologist Caroline Currid in an article in the times today (http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/rugby/caroline-currid-i-was-shocked-by-paul-o-connell-s-preparation-1.2870537) when describing her initial engagements with Paul O'Connell in 2008. While Caroline readily admits to not being a rugby person, she was dismayed that Paul relied on the perceived-slights/chip-on-the-shoulder/nurturing-a-grudge, and didn't "break it down and go with that process."

You can’t rely on emotion to get the best out yourself; you’ve got to break it down and go with that process. Otherwise, the emotion will let you down and you’ll have a very inconsistent game: you’ll play great one day and then crap the next
But in this instance, it is fair to say that inconsistency was not a charge that could be laid at POC's door, at any point in his career.

Joe Brolly has had a major pop at sports psychologists recently, referring to it as the bullsh1t industry. Hard to argue when Mayo, the team that you'd imagine most in need of a sports psychologist in Irish sport have had 4 of them - and one explained the reason for their AI replay loss as

"Because, in a nutshell, the virtue and philosophy that drives them forward is also internally compromised."
That's meaningless guff.

And this is the problem with sports psychology that Joe Brolly has been focusing on (http://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/joe-brolly-why-i-cant-lose-with-a-career-in-the-bull************************-industry-35191230.html). The absence of any accountability for their claims. But in this instance, it is fair to say that inconsistency was a charge that could be laid at POC's door, at any point in his career.

Now, I'm not as sceptical as Brolly about psychology in sport(http://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/joe-brolly-mindfulness-gurus-put-my-bullstometer-in-overdrive-34301432.html). I'm sceptical about the psychologists. Roy Keane was asked if he has read The Chimp Paradox that the likes of Ronnie O'Sullivan and Padraig Harrington lauded. He remarked that his inner chimp would not allow him to buy a copy. Tony McCoy brilliantly put it
'I have actually read articles about The Chimp Paradox and the three parts of the brain it controls but I would be like Roy Keane in knowing what my ************************************g job is. My job is to beat every fcker out there. So I’m a bit like Keane in being too thick and stubborn to want to talk about the chimp.
Keane & McCoy had the psychology sown up. There was no need for guff. They were relentlessly dominant by simply focusing on beating the other guy. For sure that isn't for everyone, and the rest of the mere mortals need some way of leveling the playing field with these nutcases. Munster rugby, of which O'Connell was the central plank for their greatest decade, are founded on the same relentlessness and 'thickness' that McCoy mentions. Epitomised by the likes of Clohessey and Galwey who went before and Anthony Foley who was there until 2006. By 2008 they had won 2 European Cups in three years off the back of the very same simple psychology - the chip on the shoulder. And yet here we have a greenhorn sports psychologist telling Paul O'Connell that he was doing it wrong?

As a Connacht fan, that was obvious every time we played them until the last 2 years. The other provinces would waltz down to Galway, condescendingly make the right patronising noises and turn up for the win that they usually got. But every now and again they got their pants pulled down and arses spanked. Not with Munster. They turned up, chip-on-the-shoulder intact, treated Connacht as yet another team that needed to be ground into the turf and did the job every time.

And when he hoisted up his barriers in the face of talk about sports psychology, she challenged his logic.
In his autobiography, O’Connell recalls telling Currid about his nomination for the IRB Player of the Year in 2006, which was eventually awarded to New Zealand’s Richie McCaw. Currid was shocked to hear that O’Connell didn’t think he deserved the gong.
Someone who admits to knowing nothing about rugby is shocked that someone who does, thought Richie McCaw was the best player in the world in 2006. Nonsense. There is a paradox in sport where you do need to believe you are good enough (competing), but at the same time also recognise that you aren't (training). But that misses an even more obvious point - the 2006 nomination (before he met Currid) was O'Connell's only ever nomination when his preparation was so poor. So once he engaged this psychologist, how come he never got one again?

The coach of the great Chicago Bulls side Phil Jackson was famed for his belief in mindfulness and use of offbeat psychological tricks and has the championships to back it up. Brian Clough turned up on FA Cup final day with his dog, to give the sense that there was more to life than the occasion and take the pressure off his side. My thinking is that psychology, when it comes from within the players, like Keane or the coaching staff like Jackson, in an authentic way is effective, but when it is foisted on from outside can be anything from ineffective to detrimental.

Back in Mayo, the former psychologist outline how they were "committing to the process"
describing how the Mayo players religiously brushed their teeth with their left hand in order to try and improve their kicking with their left foot.
Brolly finishes his piece
PS: After all that awkward left-handed and right-handed teeth-brushing over the course of several years, in this year's drawn final and replay, not a single Mayo player scored with his weak foot. Just sayin' . . .
In response to Brolly's 'attacks' (or voicing of reasonable scepticism) about the lack of any empirical sign that sports psychologists deliver any benefit Currid's answer was very interesting:

“I don’t know how many times I have got a call from a young man who wants to commit suicide and the only reason he has my number is because their team took me in as a sports psychologist. It’s incredible and it’s a horrible epidemic in our country. I would love for Joe Brolly to listen to some of these men and then he’d realise how important it is for sports psychologists around this country going into these clubs.”
No mention of the improvements in performance, verifiable or otherwise. Counselling is a valuable contribution for sure, but Mayo don't employ sports psychologists to save lives.
 
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Part of the problem is that there is no one size fits all solution. Different players prepare differently and they have their different motivational buttons.

I, for one, hated team talks. Hated them deeply. My job in the various sports I played was obvious, very clearly-defined. My motivation was to bring my skills to bear in order to win. Others liked being gee'd up.

Legend has it that at half time in the Munster All Blacks match of '78 the team waited for wise words from the manager. They waited, the tension increasing with every minute, but he said nothing until just as they had to leave the dressing room. All he said was something along the lines of "Keep doing what you're doing, but better". Masterful.

I've noticed and exploited an odd piece of psychology in sport. That is the fear of success.

It was in a cricket match where two young batsmen were taking the game away from us in chasing a huge score. One of them eventually got himself out and while the rest of the team celebrated I wandered over to the 16 year-old who was taking the game from us. I told him that he'd all but won the game now and that the newspaper articles would be reporting his 150 not out amidst calls for him to be drafted on to the international team. He paled and was out shortly after and we won the game. One of my teammates had observed the conversation commented to me when we got the guy out that I was some boll1x, but that we also seriously needed that wicket.

It's probably related to some form of inhibition. You point out to someone that if they continue as they are then they will become a legend. If they doubt that they have legendary properties the internal clash means that the self-doubt wins.

As a wicketkeeper I loved playing with batsmans' minds. None of the "I was up on your ma" stuff, either. Just planting thoughts and doubts - usually through the liberal use of compliments.
 
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BTW, one other issue which almost all external people to a team can often be seen as intruders - no matter what value they bring. Sportspeople have traditionally preferred to speak and deal with people who they believe have earned their right to contribute by having worked at the same coalface in the past.

That seems to be changing as the value of a diverse team is recognised. Thus you have physsios, video analysts, stats people etc etc. Psychology being such a soft science, I can imagine that the average rugby player is sceptical at someone who never played telling them what to think when they are the last player between a sprinting winger and the try line.
 

Erudite Caveman

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Part of the problem is that there is no one size fits all solution. Different players prepare differently and they have their different motivational buttons.

I, for one, hated team talks. Hated them deeply. My job in the various sports I played was obvious, very clearly-defined. My motivation was to bring my skills to bear in order to win. Others liked being gee'd up.

Legend has it that at half time in the Munster All Blacks match of '78 the team waited for wise words from the manager. They waited, the tension increasing with every minute, but he said nothing until just as they had to leave the dressing room. All he said was something along the lines of "Keep doing what you're doing, but better". Masterful.

I've noticed and exploited an odd piece of psychology in sport. That is the fear of success.

It was in a cricket match where two young batsmen were taking the game away from us in chasing a huge score. One of them eventually got himself out and while the rest of the team celebrated I wandered over to the 16 year-old who was taking the game from us. I told him that he'd all but won the game now and that the newspaper articles would be reporting his 150 not out amidst calls for him to be drafted on to the international team. He paled and was out shortly after and we won the game. One of my teammates had observed the conversation commented to me when we got the guy out that I was some boll1x, but that we also seriously needed that wicket.

It's probably related to some form of inhibition. You point out to someone that if they continue as they are then they will become a legend. If they doubt that they have legendary properties the internal clash means that the self-doubt wins.

As a wicketkeeper I loved playing with batsmans' minds. None of the "I was up on your ma" stuff, either. Just planting thoughts and doubts - usually through the liberal use of compliments.
Reminds me of all those that choked in the back nine on Sundays when Tiger Woods was in his prime. They stopped doing what they had been doing all weekend, and tried to think harder about what they had being doing without thinking, because they felt they needed to raise their game further. Meanwhile, he just kept chugging along in his red polo-shirt, knowing that he just had to do the same thing as he did regularly on a Sunday afternoon.
 

Erudite Caveman

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BTW, one other issue which almost all external people to a team can often be seen as intruders - no matter what value they bring. Sportspeople have traditionally preferred to speak and deal with people who they believe have earned their right to contribute by having worked at the same coalface in the past.

That seems to be changing as the value of a diverse team is recognised. Thus you have physsios, video analysts, stats people etc etc. Psychology being such a soft science, I can imagine that the average rugby player is sceptical at someone who never played telling them what to think when they are the last player between a sprinting winger and the try line.
I think many of those other support staff, like video analysts, or stats people, their value can be appreciated relatively easily. The other key thing is that their knowledge is passed to the players through the filter of management. You don't have management, with the exception of rare cases like Phil Jackson at the Bulls, leading the likes of Michael Jordan in a meditation session. Sports psychologists impart their knowledge directly, possibly increasing the scepticism from players etc...
 

Seanie Lemass

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Reason Mayo have been beaten by Dublin and Kerry and Donegal is because they were better teams.

Both arguments are nonsense.
 

Erudite Caveman

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Reason Mayo have been beaten by Dublin and Kerry and Donegal is because they were better teams.

Both arguments are nonsense.
And that's the nub of Brolly's closing shot - a team that can't score off it's weaker side needs more than tooth-brushing techniques and psychology. That may be unfair, without knowing whether Mayo are anomalous in this way or not.

But there is no shortage of examples of the 'better' team losing in sport.
 

Seanie Lemass

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And that's the nub of Brolly's closing shot - a team that can't score off it's weaker side needs more than tooth-brushing techniques and psychology. That may be unfair, without knowing whether Mayo are anomalous in this way or not.

But there is no shortage of examples of the 'better' team losing in sport.

Breaffy with three O'Sheas were beaten by Knockmore in Mayo semi final.

Reason:

Because they can't score to save their lives. Dublin or Kerry do not carry non scoring forwards.

Mayo are good but they are missing firepower. COC in fairness was brilliant this year and I would still fancy them next year but they need to score more. They won 21s AI this year so they have the material.

It has fk all to do with pop psychology!
 

Erudite Caveman

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Breaffy with three O'Sheas were beaten by Knockmore in Mayo semi final.

Reason:

Because they can't score to save their lives. Dublin or Kerry do not carry non scoring forwards.

Mayo are good but they are missing firepower. COC in fairness was brilliant this year and I would still fancy them next year but they need to score more. They won 21s AI this year so they have the material.

It has fk all to do with pop psychology!
So why are Mayo listening to people who suggest they lost

Because, in a nutshell, the virtue and philosophy that drives them forward is also internally compromised.
 

Seanie Lemass

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So why are Mayo listening to people who suggest they lost

Are they?

They have come within a point or two of winning AI in last 6 years.

Fact they keep coming back would suggest it is not a psychological failing, but that they are deficient in other ways.

I don't like them to be honest, but they are good team who will win it in next two years.
 

gerhard dengler

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I wouldn't write off the psychological aspect to sports preparation - especially so at the highest level.

Those managing elite athletes in all codes spend considerable time and resources trying to find "marginal gains" such are the competitive pressures at the very highest levels.
 

gerhard dengler

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Are they?

They have come within a point or two of winning AI in last 6 years.

Fact they keep coming back would suggest it is not a psychological failing, but that they are deficient in other ways.

I don't like them to be honest, but they are good team who will win it in next two years.
Diarmuid Connolly said it immediately after this years All Ireland final : after 135 minutes of play the differences between both teams was 1 point.
 
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There was a story about the snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan and a setup by a newspaper whereby he would be hooked up with Mike Brearley who was once captain of the English cricket side and as such had gone through the wringer of sport.

He was also a qualified clinical psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. Surely he could strike a sportsman to sportsman bond with O'Sullivan.

Nope.

The session ended with the first question which was along the lines of: "One of the thing in your career which occasionally causes controversy is when you play left-handed on occasion. Is this because when your father stabbed that man in the nightclub he stabbed him using his left hand?"

O'Sullivan uses a different sports psychologist now.
 

Erudite Caveman

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There was a story about the snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan and a setup by a newspaper whereby he would be hooked up with Mike Brearley who was once captain of the English cricket side and as such had gone through the wringer of sport.

He was also a qualified clinical psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. Surely he could strike a sportsman to sportsman bond with O'Sullivan.

Nope.

The session ended with the first question which was along the lines of: "One of the thing in your career which occasionally causes controversy is when you play left-handed on occasion. Is this because when your father stabbed that man in the nightclub he stabbed him using his left hand?"

O'Sullivan uses a different sports psychologist now.
One of the things about snooker and golf is that you get all the time in the world before you play your shot, which given an awful amount of time for doubts and thoughts to creep in. Similarly, but to a lesser extent for kickers in rugby, free-takers in GAA and soccer players in a penalty shoot outs. You can see where a psychologist would be of benefit in those instances.
 
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One of the things about snooker and golf is that you get all the time in the world before you play your shot, which given an awful amount of time for doubts and thoughts to creep in. Similarly, but to a lesser extent for kickers in rugby, free-takers in GAA and soccer players in a penalty shoot outs. You can see where a psychologist would be of benefit in those instances.
WHen there is time, reason sometimes overtakes instinct. For some players this may not be a good thing. I recall that even at his peak Beckham was better with the rolling ball than with the dead ball.
 

Seanie Lemass

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There was a story about the snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan and a setup by a newspaper whereby he would be hooked up with Mike Brearley who was once captain of the English cricket side and as such had gone through the wringer of sport.

He was also a qualified clinical psychoanalyst and psychotherapist. Surely he could strike a sportsman to sportsman bond with O'Sullivan.

Nope.

The session ended with the first question which was along the lines of: "One of the thing in your career which occasionally causes controversy is when you play left-handed on occasion. Is this because when your father stabbed that man in the nightclub he stabbed him using his left hand?"

O'Sullivan uses a different sports psychologist now.

This is based on assumption that snooker is a sport.

Only joking!


Although someone once said that anything you can do while drinking - snooker, darts, bowls - is not a sport.


Having said that, once played as corner back in front of hurling goalkeeper whose pre match prep was 3/4 pints ......
 

Man or Mouse

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This is based on assumption that snooker is a sport.

Only joking!


Although someone once said that anything you can do while drinking - snooker, darts, bowls - is not a sport.


Having said that, once played as corner back in front of hurling goalkeeper whose pre match prep was 3/4 pints .
.....
He clearly had faith in you. Another form of sport psychology.
 

Erudite Caveman

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WHen there is time, reason sometimes overtakes instinct. For some players this may not be a good thing. I recall that even at his peak Beckham was better with the rolling ball than with the dead ball.
It is down to two types of thinking. Automaticity is what you are referring to Beckham with the ball in a game. The brain doesn't consciously think about what it is trying to do. Once a player switches to consciously thinking the movement or manouvre through, they are screwed. This has been credited as the reason why pro's can and do choke.
 
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Dunno some time the Pschology is about winning before you even start.

Old rule in boxingr was one who eyed up his opponent in ring before bout was the loser as he focused on his opponent not himself winning.

In Man utd v Arsenal years ago iun 2005 Patrick Vieira was focused on bullying Gary Neville in the tunnel, Roy Keane then focused on Vieira suggesting he try someone his own size. Instead of unsettling Neville, he lost the battle of wills with Keane and Arsenal got beaten.
Key thing here was supposedly the strongest Arsenal player was trying to focusing on the percieved weakest link in Man Utd but it backfired because got everybody else involved.
Vieira overlooked he was in a team game.
 


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