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Monday, October 8, 2012

ALABAMA AND SABAN LEAN ON ELKO TO STRENGTHEN THEIR MINDS

First, I want to thank my high school coach Allen Osborne for passing this article on to me.  It speaks to Nick Saban and his philosophy of the "process" as well as the role of Dr. Kevin Elko in working with the Alabama football program.  I have wrote about Kevin before.  Several years ago when I had to take over the LSU women's team for the NCAA tournament as the interim head coach, Kevin spoke to our team and set an incredible tone -- so necessary at the time -- talking about the process and "removing clutter" to remain focused.  The rest of the time he called me two to three times a week with words of wisdom as well as some great exercises for our team.

He played such a critically important role that I without hesitation awarded him a Final Four ring after our team beat the odds and made a great run to the Final Four.

Here is just a few excerpts from the article that ran on AL.com and was written byDon Kausler Jr.

One recent day, for instance, superlatives flowed as Nico Johnson talked about a fellow star linebacker. C.J. Mosley has improved. He feels more confident. He’s playing faster.

“He’s accepting failure,” Johnson said. “He’s not worried about making mistakes or anything. He’s going from there and just making plays every chance he gets.”

Accepting failure?

Where did that come from?

At Alabama, players repeat what they hear from head coach Nick Saban. And he repeats what he hears from the “head” coach.

That would be Elko. You could call him a sports psychologist. You could call him a motivational speaker and an author. He prefers to be called a performance consultant.

Saban calls him often. They speak every couple of weeks, according to Saban. Elko visits the Crimson Tide four or five times a year, and he’s coming Wednesday, after a speaking engagement Tuesday in Mobile.

When he speaks, the players listen.   “He always preaches to us about accepting failure, and if you can accept failure and understand why it happened and what’s the reason it happened that way, everything else will be OK,” Johnson said.
It’s true.

“We’re hitting it real hard now,” Elko said.

Except Saban won’t accept failure. With Elko’s help, he wants his players to learn from their mistakes.

“We’re not telling them to accept losing,” Elko said. “We’re telling them, ‘Don’t even let it become an issue in your life. Winning and losing is not your issue.”

The process matters more than the result. Saban has said this hundreds of times. He’s had help refining the mantra.

Through Elko, the top-ranked Crimson Tide (5-0) is influenced by a founding father, a famous psychologist, a grandmother from Russia and dead soldiers fighting.

THE FOUNDING FATHER
The process is all about the Benjamin.
“One of the things that we push so hard and Nick pushes so hard is Benjamin Franklin’s phrase, ‘Pain instructs,’” Elko said.

He’s talking about mental anguish, the excruciating kind Alabama felt after its 9-6 overtime loss to LSU in the 2011 regular season.

“We got a chance to play them again,” Elko said. “We said, ‘Remember how you felt right after you lost to LSU? Remember how you felt when you looked across the room at the other players with a broken heart? Now prepare and play this game so you don’t have to feel that again.’”

The Tide crushed the Tigers 21-0 in the BCS Championship Game. The next day, when asked about developing players, Saban cited Elko, among others.   Saban has come to understand brains and human behavior as well as he appreciates brawn.   This is lengthy article but well worth reading it all (there is also video in the article) -- click here for the entire article: bit.ly/SEkeMN