A Closer Look – by Mark Miller

Week seven is in the books and the league races and playoff seedings are beginning to take shape. I was with the TV guys to do McKinley and Lake at Benson Stadium. It was an important game in the Federal League because a 2 nd loss to either team would most likely take them out of the race to win the league.
It was a good, hard-fought game throughout with the winner not decided until late in the game, just like fans want it. The score was close the whole way and included many momentum shifts. And that is my topic this week – momentum.

The Bulldogs and the Blue Streaks both had several ‘momentum’ plays. Long runs and passes, interceptions and fumble recoveries, tackles and sacks in the backfield, big hits,
great effort plays – these things all shifted the game even if only for a play or two. Of course we point to the dramatic plays toward the end of the game most like the 98 yd. interception return for a TD by Cynceir McNeal. But coaches will tell you that plays the whole game get you to those dramatic plays late in the game – they are all important.

Yes, momentum is important and can mean the difference in a game’s outcome but you can also call it motivation because they go hand in hand. Momentum comes about when a good, or bad, play happens to you or your team. Momentum builds when several good, or bad, things happen in close order. It takes motivation to capitalize on the good momentum shifts or to stop the bad momentum shifts.  A lot of people think the coach motivates the players with an inspiring pregame or halftime speech. Not so!  Those speeches only ring in the players’ ears for a short time. It is SELF-motivation that lasts throughout the game. There are many types of motivation but it is self-motivation that makes great players and great teams.

Please allow me to share a personal experience of motivation. The summer between my sophomore and junior season as a QB at Bowling Green State University, my father passed away of a sudden heart attack. As you can imagine, football was not a priority for me at that time. Only my mom and my family was on my mind. However, it was July and I had to report to camp in just over 1 month. I had to keep working out and getting ready for what many in the Mid-American Conference thought would be a championship year for the Falcons. Since all I could think about was my dad and family, I decided to use that as motivation to continue my workouts. My dad really loved watching me play and never hesitated to tell those at the stadium that his son was the starting quarterback. So I dedicated the rest of my college career (at that time I had no idea I would also have a brief pro career) to my dad.

Before, during and after my workouts, practices and games, I thought about my dad. Whenever things were tough, we were losing or I was tired or injured, thoughts of my dad watching me play pulled me through. My junior and senior season at BG resulted in many records, 2 MVP awards and All-American recognition, all of which I attributed to my dad even though he was no longer with us in person.

There are many ways to motivate yourself. Find your sweet spot(s) of motivation – we can have several.  It will shift momentum in your game – on the field or in life.

Talk to you next week!