When Pete Carroll was fired by the Patriots following their season in 1999, he had only one option: to move forward. Carroll did just that and came away with a whole new frame of mind. He’s been with the Seattle Seahawks since 2011, and so has Mike Gervais, a high-performance sport psychologist. Both men understand that winning a game or building a successful team isn’t just about what happens on the field. In a “suck-it-up” NFL culture where players are all too aware about their personal well-being and lives being uncared for, they’re bringing a softer side to football. The idea is that happy players make for better players. And that idea works.
Focus on the mental training and needs of the players through meditation sessions where the players are encouraged to be introspective and visualize their goals is hugely important. “Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice,” Russell Okung (Seahawk Offensive Tackle) says. “It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them.”
Dedicated to the mental well-being of their team, Carroll and his colleagues pride themselves in finding players with positive attitudes. If you take one look at their Quarter Back, Russell Wilson, you can see the success that it has brought to their team. “I truly believe in positive synergy, that your positive mindset gives you a more hopeful outlook, and belief that you can do something great means you will do something great.” This is nothing but the truth from Wilson. He’s known for setting goals and records alike; achieving and even surpassing them. In 2012, his first year in the NFL, Wilson led the Seahawks to the playoffs; one of only 6 rookie QBs in NFL game history to win a playoff game. He finished the regular season ranked #4 in NFL passer rating and tied Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdowns scored by a rookie. To top it off, Wilson has even started his own charitable organization: The Power of Mind Foundation.
The “experiment” going on in Seattle may have other NFL teams scratching their heads, but the goal is to change the way that the football franchise approaches the well-being of the players. There’s a public stigma about psychologists: in order to work with one, something has to be wrong. Fortunately, the Seahawks are paving the way in proving that this idea holds little value.