All professional sports drafts bring a high degree of uncertainty, which is why there are so many combines, practices, tests, evaluations, and who knows what else that goes on before every draft day. With the 2013 NFL draft now complete, it will be interesting to see in the years ahead what “can’t miss” becomes a bust, and what “sleepers” go on to have very successful NFL careers (AHPS).
Predicting future athletic success is an incredibly difficult — if not impossible – proposition. Of course, looking at past behavior is almost always the best predictor of future success according to most behaviorists, but the jump from amateur to professional sports is so big that it almost immediately nullifies most previous college football accomplishments.
In recent years sport psychologists have been called in to evaluate various types of “mental toughness,” and that’s actually a step in the right direction if minimizing future judgement error is the goal. The reason I say this is that the actual physical differences between draftees is often quite minimal (seriously, the difference between a 4.5 and 4.6 40 yard dash is an eye blink!), but the mental differences between players can be incredibly wide. Breaking this down even more, to know about a player’s maturity level, ego, motivation, resiliency, ability to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts, and work ethic are but just a few of the variables “between the ears” that are the most important as it applies to future success — but these variables are also the least understood, most devalued (as they compare to physical attributes), and hardest to accurately gauge.
People often ask me how much of sports is “mental,” and as much as I would love to hang a percentage on to that question, it’s virtually impossible to do so. I would actually be better off framing the question differently – that is, how much of sports is not “mental?” When you think about how much athletic potential relies on an athlete being grounded, mature, motivated, and resilient, it becomes more clear how invaluable these traits are — and how secondary physical attributes are when these pieces are missing.
Check out our growing line of mental toughness products at Advanced Human Performance Systems!