Friday, June 03, 2011

Team Psychology

I have a new theory. Sports fans, especially talking heads, refer to a team being able to finish, to put another team away. Similarly, they talk about teams being able to come back, to bounce back from adversity.

I think these are different psychological qualities, and teams don't have both. There may even be something mutually exclusive about them. We can make it complicated very quickly, of course, as individuals on a team might be strong one way but the team another. But lets look at some current/recent teams and see if there is a pattern. The current Boston Celtics, in the Big Three era, have shown only average resilience - not so many great comebacks. They have, however, shown an ability to put teams away, if they can just get up by ten points or more. That was less true this year.

Similarly, the early decade Patriots showed remarkable resilience, but the last few years have shown little resilience, little ability to come back, but a stunning ability to put another team away if they can just get up on them. (Yes, Payton comes back on them, but that's an irresistable force/immovable object thing. I don't think other teams have come back on them well.

Dallas has exceptional resilience but less ability to put teams away. Miami has shown some of both. The Bruins are in the playoffs, and for the last few years they have shown a remarkable ability to bounce back, but almost no ability to put teams away.

I'm shooting from the hip here. Interested in your thoughts.

1 comment:

Roy Lofquist said...


I played hockey for about 45 years. Not professionally of course but at a reasonably high amateur level. My teammates have included a member of the Finnish national team, a guy who still ranks 19 on the NCAA records for assists and a number of varsity players from well known hockey schools.

It's chemistry. One person can not supply it. We are tempted to credit individuals but it is a team sport. Some teams catch the spirit for a game or two. Upset! Other teams, the consistent winners, are like the US Military - my brothers and I are invincible. We cannot lose. You think that silly tactical defeat got to us? Next comes the lesson!

It can not, of course, be captured in words. Ya gotta feel it. It is a divine feeling.