The Sport Professor Steve Project welcomes Sport Psychologist, Dr. Eddie O’Connor, on the Sports Project Radio Show to discuss the NFL Draft. Dr. Eddie makes an interesting comment about how and why some later round draft picks have more success than more talented first round players. (Hint: less talented players that succeed have better learned how to work hard, overcome and persist through adversity).
The key to success is investment in deliberate practice. (Dr. Eddie details what that looks like in the interview, but in short it involves 3 steps within every repetition: focus on exactly what you want to do; get feedback on your performance; then identify something specific to fix on the next repetition, and repeat.)
Then the conversation pivots to how Scripture helps Christian athletes better manage their anxiety. When athletes keep God at the center of their lives, sport is put into a more accurate perspective and the pressure decreases. Several verses provide specific instruction on how to interact with our anxiety (e.g., Philippians 4:6-7) and when these verses are put into action, mood improves. There is an overlap between the science of sport psychology and biblical teachings. Steve and Dr. Eddie discuss performing for an audience of One, and debate if your spirituality is your next opportunity to enhance your success and performance, or if it is better to put God first and let your performance flow out of that relationship.
Athletes from other faiths are encouraged to see how their religious beliefs may provide guidance for their distress and performance. This may provide greater motivation to interact with anxiety differently than reliance on science alone (especially when science and religion are consistent).
Note: If you caught the earlier social media posts on these same topics, you will really enjoy the elaboration on these lessons in the interview.