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How to Win

Rhythm and Confidence

One thing is for sure about this evening’s winner-take-all playoff game between the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins in the Metrodome: The batting practice and game warmup will look just like the 162 that took place during the regular season.

Nothing will change, even though the game will decide which team goes home and which team gets to continue in the post-season. If anything, it is even more important that the rhythms and rituals stay in place.

Golfer Bobby Jones is supposed to have said that rhythm and confidence are two sides of the same coin. If you’re lacking in one, then turn to the other.

In other words, let’s say you’re nervous before a big event. You can at least pretend to be relaxed, and the best way to do that is to behave exactly the way you would for any other game. That means doing the same things at the same time and in the same order.
Pre-game practice is set up to produce the greatest number of repetitions (swings, throws, catches) without stress. If the practice is well-designed, there should be no reason to change any part of it. Rhythm in the pre-game workout can produce, as Bobby Jones says, confidence.

Speaking of rhythm, another example took place last night, also in the Metrodome. This time it involved Brett Favre, playing for the Minnesota Vikings against his old team, the Green Bay Packers.

One of the commentators on the Monday Night Football telecast observed that the Minnesota coach could help Favre channel his excitement by keeping things very simple at the beginning. Instead of throwing a lot of passes, Favre could merely hand the ball to his star running back, Adrian Peterson. And then when Favre was in the flow of the game, he could start to throw more.

That is exactly what happened. Peterson’s running helped the Vikings score their first touchdown, and after that Favre dominated with his passing.

So whether it’s a pre-game ritual or the early stages of a game, finding a rhythm is what it is all about.


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