What does Super Bowl XLIX and yoga have in common?
Well, until recently, nothing. This unlikely combination has been made possible by the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll.
After Carroll was fired from the head coaching position for the New England Patriots (Oh, the irony) in 1999 he started to rebuild his reputation and his approach to the game in general. According to a recent ESPN article, “His dream was to fundamentally change the way players are coached.”
His philosophy was rooted in the fact that traditionally, NFL coaches got the job done because they were hard-asses.
They were characterized by lots of red-faced yelling, spit-flying and the occasional (to really drive home the point) hat-throwing.
They wanted results, they wanted to make money and they wanted fans to be happy. They didn’t seem to care about the players at all. They cared about where the money was coming from.
Unfortunately, this kind of model tends to lead to a lot of anger and tension on the field between coaches and their players and also between players. This sort of stress can manifest in all of kinds of ways like depression, lack of self-confidence, and even injuries and general health issues.
Carroll’s approach is to cultivate happy players, a happy team and happy families. He is one of the first coaches to approach the game of football with sort of mind set.
He’s changing the game, pun definitely intended, and this is his approach:
In 2011, Carroll began to offer optional yoga classes for everyone on the team. Turns out that the team enjoyed this time to relax, stretch and connect with each other so much, Carroll decided to make it a mandatory part of practice.
Meditation is also available and, though not mandatory, much of the team participates at some point during the week anyway. The sessions can be tailored shorter for beginners and longer, more individualized for those who are more comfortable with it.
According to an article on ESPN,
“Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice, it’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them.”
Carroll also believes in the power of positive thoughts, words and actions and how they can foster a more positive and motivating environment for his players. For instance, yelling and swearing are highly frowned upon and every interaction with the media is ended with a “thank you.”
If a player makes a mistake or misses a pass, the reaction is not to yell but to fix it and move on. This mind set has been adopted by all of the players and staff as well who can be heard uttering mantras such as “Stay positive” and “Put yourself into a mindset of greatness.”
The entire staff is dedicated to looking out for the team’s mental health. According to Yoga Journal there’s even a life skills consultant/addiction counselor. The idea is to provide an outlet for the players to work through their personal problems, and to provide a community of people they feel they can talk to and depend on.
Even the team chef, Mac McNabb, is getting on board. He feeds the team organic fruits and vegetables from local farms! The leftovers are taken to local free-range chicken farms to feed chickens being specifically raised for the Seahawks, now that’s recycling.
Even if the Seattle Seahawks don’t win the Super Bowl (gasp!) they are making history as the first NFL team to take a holistic approach to the game.
Carroll tells ESPN, “I wanted to find out if we went to the NFL and really took care of guys, really cared about each and every individual, what would happen?”
Well, the time has come and we’re about find out what will happen. Hats off to Pete Carroll for paving the way towards holistic health at the professional level.
Thank you and good luck out there.
Author: Brenna Fischer
Editor: Emma Ruffin
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