Earlier this week I watched a television special about Henry J. Heinz and the Heinz empire. Aside from being an entertaining and educational program about how we all have a chance to live the “American dream” through hard work and resiliency, I was particularly impressed by a favorite Heinz quote he used to motivate his employees:
“Heart power is stronger than horse power!”
Ironically, we still talk about heart power in sports today — but we have shortened the term to simply “heart.” Players who are determined, excel in the clutch, and quickly bounce back from stress and adversity are said to possess “heart.” And yes, Mr. Heinz most certainly had it correct — “heart” power is the equalizer when it comes to compensating for other perceived deficiencies.
Using the NFL as an example, every year the pre-draft combine is used to gauge a number of inter-related variables that mediate athletic success and sports performance, including tests of speed, agility, leaping ability, and strength. Of course, this data is certainly important, but the one variable that cannot be measured is HEART. Even the intelligence test most NFL teams use today (the Wunderlic) doesn’t provide valid data for how a future player will respond to pressure situations.”Heart,” in essence, is mental toughness.
The science of sport psychology has yielded a number of important findings related to how personality impacts sport performance, and most sports experts will tell you that a player with heart will almost always prevail when matched against similar competition that doesn’t possess the same level of mental toughness.I think the Heinz quote should be on the chalk board in every locker across the country as it is vitally important to remind student athletes about the significance of “heart” and mental toughness.
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