While this article is titled ‘WVU Football: The Mental Aspect’, it applies to all football players. Football is a unique sport, as it is 90% mental and 10% physical.
If you heard Coach Holgorsen talk about LB Edward Muldrow, he stated that Muldrow was tightly wound and out of control. What Holgorsen was referring to was that Muldrow is having trouble controlling his emotions when on the field.
From the time football players line up across from each other and the ball is snapped until the referee blows the whistle ending the play, players are expected to be mean and nasty, and play with high intensity. However, they are asked to shut down the emotion once the play is over.
The snap of the ball is like turning a switch on and while the whistle that ends the play turns the switch off. Where players get themselves in trouble is when they fail to turn their emotions off. It is the carrying over of these emotions that causes fights.
Football players and coaches may not admit it, but a lot of intimidation takes place on the field. What players try to do to opposing players is use verbal insults on their opponent to get the opposing player or players out of their game.
Earlier in I wrote an article ‘WVU Football – Why Not Us’ where I eluded to the phrase in coach Bill Stewart’s famous ‘Leave No Doubt’ speech where he stated ‘Don’t Leave Your Wing-Man’. This week we heard WVU safety coach, Joe DeForest state the one thing he didn’t want his safeties to do was vacate their area and let an opposing receiver get behind them. What these coaches are saying is they want their players to maintain their lanes.
Offenses get big plays against defenses when defensive players fail to maintain their assignments. This also goes for the players who are on the field to tackle whom ever is returning a kick-off or punt.
If you have ever seen a football game, you have seen a player pulled and sat on the bench and then witnessed a coach going over to him and talking to him. The coach is talking to him to help calm him down. The player has let his emotions take over and control him. I don’t care how talented a football player is, if he can’t control his emotions on the field then he has no business being on the field, for he’ll either get hurt or cause someone else to get hurt.
Once an opponent sees they can get to a players emotions, they will do anything and say anything to get the player out of control. An out-of-control player makes mistakes.
A player doesn’t want to be on the bottom of a pile of players, for all sorts of dirty play goes on there: pinching, biting, hitting, eye gouging, etc. Many players today where face-guards and face shields to keep an opponent from poking his eyes with his fingers, or from scratching him. Punches can still be thrown, and officials can not see them.
Today’s football has taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct calls. In every football game we’ll see a defense stop an offense on 3rd or 4th and short, but the offense is able to continue its drive due to one of these calls. Taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct calls are directly related to a player being out of control.
When such play is really flagrant or a player appears to be ‘losing it’, he’ll be benched by the coaches and occasionally ejected from the game. A player does his team no good sitting in the locker room or on the bench because he is not allowed to play.
Football is every bit as exhausting mentally as it is physically. One of the hardest parts of football is controlling the ego and keeping the emotions in check.