The Dallas Cowboys’ (2-2) star quarterback Tony Romo has received criticism due to his performance this past weekend. He helped his team build a comfortable 20-3 lead at halftime, but only to see it disappear by the game’s end. He allowed three interceptions in the second half, which opened the doors for the Lions. But Romo is a highly skilled quarterback, how could this happen? To investigate this, we will highlight certain psychological and mental approaches that were detrimental to Romo’s performance.
Tony Romo had been dealing with injuries in a game a week earlier against the Redskins. Prior to that game, NFL commentators questioned the toughness of Romo. He responded by delivering a gutsy performance in the Cowboys victory. He had motivation to show his strength and disprove the media. He channeled that motivation to positively impact his mental approach and execution. The free, loose, and ‘nothing to lose’ feeling he had allowed Romo to throw the ball better and execute his passes more efficiently. He concentrated on hitting his target and blocked out other distractions. He made the game simple for himself.
In the game this past weekend, however, Romo made things difficult. He did not have the external motivation from TV analyst and lost focus. The motivation and hunger to perform well in any sport needs to come from within – how badly do you want to show what you’re made of? You need to be the best motivator that you know.
A 17-point lead in the second half made it easy for Romo to lose his concentration that helped establish the lead. He didn’t have clear goals; he was just going through the motions and cost his team the game. When a golfer has a big lead, for example, it is important to stay motivated and achieve the goals they have set (like continue to hit fairways and keep giving putts a chance to go in), despite what the rest of the field is doing. For Romo, he needed to continue throwing the ball with confidence. And when his team gave up some points, he should have relaxed and continued to execute his passes.
To help relax while under pressure, Romo should have focused on two things: his breathing and things he had 100 percent control over. When you put too much pressure on the outcome of the event (something you cannot control), you lose focus on what you can control.
If Tony Romo can trust his abilities, then he will continue to succeed. Like a soccer player shooting a penalty kick: once the player tries to guide the shot into the net, they are doomed. The best penalty kickers will admit that their greatest strength is their ability to focus only on putting a good strike on the ball. After executing that, the outcome of the shot is out of their control.
Sports Psychology/Mental Training from Mental Apex