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Sports Psychology, Football And The New York Giants

Posted by: Dr. Granat on December 1, 2006

Part of the Giants’ recent collapse can be attributed to injuries to


seven of their starting players. Widespread injuries to key players like

these can be significant obstacles for many professional football teams to overcome.

In my view, however, the Giants problems are a bit more deep seated than having injured


The Giant organization is starting to resemble a dysfunctional

family. Players are not playing to their potential. There is a significant amount

of chaos on the field and in the locker room. Some athletes are making plays which

indicate a widespread lack of focus and intensity.

There also appears to be a substantial amount of friction between the players and the

head coach. In addition, there seems to be very little comraderie, cohesion, or team spirit

right now. If you watch the Giants’ sidelines during the game, you will see

lots of individual frustration on the part of the players and the coaches. There

looks like there is very little closeness or pulling to together to solve the current crisis.

Superior teams and coaches seem to function like a military unit with a

well respected general at the helm. Take a look at many of the teams that

have created dynasties in football. The Pittsburgh Steelers, The San Francisco

Forty Niners and The New England Patriots all had well-respected coaches and

great team chemistry.

In college football, there have been a number of coaches who have

been capable of this kind of coaching on a consistent basis: Joe Paterno

at Penn State and Pete Caroll at USC are excellent examples of coaches who

are well liked and well respected leaders who know how to field winning teams.

Strong leaders who can build teams have had success in other sports as well.

The Boston Celtics, The New York Yankees and The Atlanta Braves are examples

of other teams that have excelled because of great coaching, great managing and

good team chemistry.

Bob Coughlin, the Giant head coach, appears to be a very bright football man.

He has a great head for statistics. However, he seems to be having some difficulty in

getting the most out of his players and in building team chemistry amongst his players

and in getting his team to act like a team.

This is not an easy task since many of today’s athletes are free spirits who

are more concerned with their own statistics and salaries than they are with winning as a

team. Nevertheless, the great coaches and great managers seem to find a way to recruit

the right players and build a solid team foundation based around a proven system for

winning consistently.

Presently, it does not appear that the coach has the respect of the team. It also

does not seem like the players like the coaching staff very much. Again, winning

coaches seem to be able to develop positive relationships with players and among

players while they teach them how to play within their system. This is not happening

at The Meadowlands right now.

In my mind, no one was ever better at building winning teams than was John Wooden,

the outstanding head coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team. Wooden the soft

spoken gentleman, brilliant psychologist and outstanding motivator was a master at

preparing his teams and at helping his athletes play to their fullest potential.

Wooden’s thoughts on coaching, motivating and managing players are described

in great detail in his writings These books would be a great read

for the Giant coaching staff and for the players at this point in the season.

Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., is a Psychotherapist and The Founder of
He coaches many world class athletes and has developed a self-help program
for athletes, coaches and parents who want to improve their performance.

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