No Place Like The Playoffs
Win or go home. It¹s playoff time and it¹s that simple. And don¹t you just love the simple things in life? Leave it all on the field; play like there¹s no tomorrow; it all comes down to this if you play sports you hear these clichés often but when it¹s playoff time you have to take them to heart. If you lose, your season is over and if you¹re like me, you¹ll bury the loss somewhere in the ³Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda² section of your memory bank; however, if you win you¹re one step closer to championship glory and a cherished memory that you¹ll recall over and over again. I¹ve been on both ends of the spectrum and I can attest that the winning end is a lot more fun.
I was fortunate to have played in four Connecticut State Championship games for Wilton High School. And I was unbelievably fortunate to have won three of the four games. Yes, there was onethatgotaway. It was my junior sea- son and I remember sitting on the bench after the game with my head down, feeling awful. I was heckled by opposing fans throughout the game, which didn¹t bother me until the final whistle blew. So there I was on the bench, downright inconsolable, when the hecklers came by and said ³good game.² That made me love playoff competition even more. Onthefield, along the sidelines and in the stands, everyone was invest- ed in the game. And my hecklers turned out to be good sports, which brings me to my next point: Playoff competition reveals character. Good sportsmanship between fans and players is important but when it comes to the action on the field, how players handle pressure often determines their team¹s post- season success.
My coach at the University of North Carolina was great at handling post-season pressure. His mannerisms and tone never changed. If he was nervous I never knew it – he made me and my teammates feel like we just needed to go out there and execute to win the game. Under his composed de- meanor and guidance, my teammates and I won four NCAA Championships.
Therefore, my advice to playoff-bound coaches it to keep composed, stay positive, and make sure your team enjoys the experience. Your players¹ nerves will be in overdrive so the composure of you and your coaching staff will be very important. Let your players know that as long as they give their best they needn¹t worry about the game’s outcome.
My advice to playoff-bound players
doing my best to avoid the aforementioned clichés is to believe in your preparation, work together and (sorry, it¹s unavoidable), leave it all out on the field. When it¹s all said and done, you¹ll either have the story of a hard fought loss or the glory of a well-earned win. Your best effort may very well turn hecklers into supporters.