“We always look at the next game as being the most important game of the year.” –Jim Harbaugh 49ers Head Coach
Nick is one of the team leaders in our Senior 1 training group. His observations follow after listening to Harbaugh speak at a recent press session. We believe there is much merit in his comments.
In football, each NFL team only is guaranteed sixteen games throughout the season. By my count, in swimming, this block we only have eight days of competition before we have what is similar to the NFL’s super bowl. The only difference between us on North Bay and all of the players in the NFL is that we are guaranteed to go to our “super bowl.” Whether that is JO’s, Husky, or Junior Nationals, we get to go to our super bowl. So why is it that we don’t prepare for our super bowl with as much intention as the 49ers seem to be doing?
This is where I believe the team culture comes in. There is no doubt that we have an attitude at meets that the ones in which we do not shave or “rest” for are not as important. One thing that is unique about the NFL is that each week truly matters because if your team loses that really hurts your chances of making the playoffs (versus in baseball if you lose one game out of 162, there is not as much of an impact on the chances of making the playoffs, so they don’t put quite as much emphasis on each game). We, as swimmers, have less of an opportunity to prepare ourselves for the playoffs than football players do, as they have 16 games while we only have 8 days of racing before our big meet. To me this should be telling us that each day of our meets are at least twice as important as the football team’s game.
Going into the super league meet, I think we need to make a point to change our culture. I think we need to take a pointer from Jim Harbaugh and look at the next race as the most important race of the year. We can’t be wasting these opportunities that we are given, because they are what can make or break a race later on when we are “at the super bowl.” There are so few of them that it is truly important to be fully engaged for each one. I know both you and Ken have told us countless times how each meet really is important, but I think sometimes it takes something more for this to click for people. For me, hearing Jim Harbaugh talk about how they approach their games made the whole idea of how to approach our training meets click.
I would love it if you guys added this topic to the agenda on Saturday for the team meeting. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts, I know I am personally very ready to get back to racing and this time I plan to bring a new mindset to the early and mid-season meets. GO TUNA!