By Chris Overmeyer
What is going on with the Wolf Pack men’s basketball team? Being a lifetime Wolf Pack follower, this question has long persisted. So when I ended up in sports therapy class with a few of the players from the team, I had to ask them: Why are they struggling? They talked about getting their confidence back through consistency. That’s when it hit me — their struggles have a deeper root. It’s not due to lack of funding, coaching or talent. It’s all mental.
So then, what is stopping the team from reaching its potential? Moreover, what keeps all of us from reaching our highest potential? It is ultimately ourselves; our mind. In a sports psychology class that I am taking, taught by Dr. Dean Hinitz, this matter is studied daily.
One of the principles discussed is the “be-do-have” paradigm, which many people have reversed. For example, an athlete might think that if they “have” great facilities, coaching, etc, then they will “do” certain things, such as perform at a high level, which allows them to “be” a winner or a champion. The elements are correct, but the order of “have-do-be” is backwards. The athlete must “be” a champion in order to “do” what champions do, such as perform at a high level, in order to “have” wins, success, and nice facilities. This theory is displayed clearly in upset victories or Cinderella runs in the NCAA tournament, similar to those of the mid-2000s Nevada basketball teams.
“Be” is the integral part of this paradigm. It is our self-concept, or who we think we are. Dr. Hinitz asserts that one’s self-concept is determinant of their results over time. This idea is more easily recognizable in a famous quote by Henry Ford, which reads “the man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both right.”
Now, I am not entirely sure of what the basketball team thinks of itself, but if Dr. Hinitz’s assertion is true, the Nevada basketball team’s self-concept is not that of a champion, yet. There are clues to this, such as what I learned from my conversation with a few of the players, as well as what they report to the media.
Members of Wolf Pack basketball team have mentioned that they need to win in order to increase their confidence, which is a display of the “have-do-be” model. While winning would certainly help affirm its confidence, the Pack must enter contests despite their wins and losses.
In fact, this notion is evident when the word confidence is broken down into its roots, as Dr. Hinitz noted. The root “con” means “with.” The second is “fid,” which means “faith.” Faith can be defined as trust or belief in something that may or may not have proof. The suffix “ence” is defined as “state or condition.” Thus, the definition of confidence is determined to be “the state of having trust or belief in something that may or may not have proof” and in Nevada’s case, the proof, or lack thereof, is in their record, depending on how it is viewed.
As the Wolf Pack plays the last games of the conference season and enters tournament play its must make a shift of self-concept from whatever it is now to “champion.” This must be built on integrity. Players cannot say they are “champion,” but act differently, such as giving inconsistent effort. Even more, the team itself must be integrated. The last thing an athlete should worry about is the support of his coaches and teammates. But first, the Wolf Pack must make that shift. In the words of Bagger Vance, “You can stop or you can start. You can stay where you have been or you can come out. It is time for you to choose”. It is time for the Nevada men’s basketball team to do the same.
Chris Overmyer can be reached at covermyer@sagebrush. unr.edu and on Twitter @ChrisOvermyerNV.