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How to Win

Loving the Big Moment

In a game filled with fun moments last night, the best came in the last four seconds of the Giants-Cowboys contest.

Lawrence Tynes was waiting to make a kick that would either give the Giants a last-second victory or leave them one point short. The Cowboys were trying to mess with his mind. And Tynes just smiled — and made the kick.

It was an extraordinary glimpse into the makeup of a man who gets paid to make big kicks. The pressure seemed not to bother Tynes at all; in fact, he seemed to enjoy it.

Here’s what happened. The Giants were trailing by one point, and were set up for the game-winning field goal. Everybody in the park suspected the Cowboys would call timeout to try to rattle Tynes and make him overthink the kick.

When they finally did, they timed it so close that action on the field actually took place and Tynes kicked the ball through the uprights. The Giants celebrated, thinking they had won the game. But the official came running onto the field with news of the timeout. The play didn’t count. Tynes would have to kick it again.

If the Cowboys were hoping to make Tynes feel pressure, they needn’t have bothered. He just kept smiling as the teams prepared for his second kick. The second one was even better than the first, and the Giants won 33-31.

Some people are beaten by game pressure. Some people merely cope with it. Then there are the rare few who actually LOVE the big moment.

Tynes belongs to that group. Like Reggie Jackson, who loved to hit in the World Series, Tynes shows a real joy at competing. He already has helped the Giants win one Super Bowl.

As coaches, part of our job is to help our athletes love a challenge. Surfers ride the biggest waves; climbers pick the highest mountains. The greater the opponent, the greater the accomplishment.

Being nervous is natural, especially for young athletes. But if we can instill a love for competition, we will have taught our athletes well.


3 comments for “Loving the Big Moment”

  1. Hey Coach
    What was great was the fact that the first kick narrowly made it inside the post but the second kick was almost perfect much to my delight as a diehard Giants fan.

    Posted by kevin reilly | September 21, 2009, 11:09 am
  2. Clearly, some people have an innate talent for rising to big challenges. What is interesting to consider is whether the demeanor of the coach over the long haul can make it easier for athletes to perform under pressure: a combination of the Lombardi approach with a deep ability to communicate that sports are about playfulness. That’s the smile we saw on Tyne’s face.

    Posted by Peter Hirsch | September 21, 2009, 2:45 pm
  3. Mike, as a coach, you should write about what you think about coaches’ calling a late timeout and forcing the kicker to make the field goal twice. Isn’t it bush-league? I just wish it had backfired, and not succeeded, the first time a coach pulled that move (was it Mike Shanahan?).

    Posted by Lollipop Lou | September 21, 2009, 5:38 pm

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