Sep 6, 2016The Moawad Method
While physical training often takes center stage when it comes to preparation, mental training can provide teams and athletes with an edge as well — provided they’re willing to work at it. Trevor Moawad is becoming well-known as a leader in the field, having success with the University of Alabama and UCLA football programs as well as individual athletes such as Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and former Jaguars running back Fred Taylor.
Here are four things Moawad emphasizes to the athletes he works with:
Tune out distractions: There’s a lot going on during a typical game — music, crowd noise, teammates — that can take a player’s mind off the task at hand. Moawad has a drill that trains players to keep focused during these times. First, the player says a sequence of numbers in ascending order. Then he or she does it again, this time with someone silently watching him or her. The athlete does it a third time with a partner yelling at him or her. Completing this drill helps players learn to power through external distractions to accomplish a task.
Overcome your idle mind: During games, positive and negative thoughts often occur during idle periods — of which there are many. So it’s critical to focus on the right things.
“I remember one thing [Moawad] always used to say: ‘Your brain can only take one thing at a time — is it going to be positive or negative?'” former University of Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson told CNN.com.
To do that, Moawad instructs players he works with to visualize certain things during downtime. For example, when coming back to the huddle after a play, Taylor would visualize breaking off a long run. This summer, Moawad was brought to UCLA to work with the football team, and he told kicker J.J. Molson to spend his down time during training camp talking with his teammates about anything except football. Only when he was on the field did Molson start thinking about kicking.
Let go of past problems: Moawad’s process is centered, in part, on the idea that you need to move on from past mistakes. This is something he stressed to Wilson, who threw an interception in the waning moments of Super Bowl 49, ending the Seahawks’ chance to repeat as NFL champions.
“That play doesn’t define Russell,” Moawad told CNN.com. “With a competitor and a person like Russell, I never for a second thought that moment would be too big for him — win or lose — to overcome.”
Embrace past positives: While it’s critical to not dwell on mistakes, focusing on positive moments in the past can be a major help. When Moawad worked with the oft-injured Taylor, he put together a tape of the running back’s highlights.
“I would watch this tape before each and every game and the night before a game,” Taylor told CNN. “And watching the film allowed my mind to know that we’ve done that, we can do it again, we can do it every time. We were just creating the game in my head.”