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Condor Performance Blog - June 2012 Archives

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mental Analysis of National Rugby League (NRL); Round 16

NRL Round 16 – Brisbane v South Sydney

These two sides are both displaying signs of mental toughness and have already met in round 4 this season. On that occasion Souths raced to a 12-0 lead and got done by a well composed Brisbane team, despite losing a player (Yow Yeh) to a horrific injury. This round Souths didn’t get out to such a good start and had to fight to stay in the contest.

Brisbane Mental Strengths:

• Used their weight of possession in the first half to build pressure and put the Rabbits through a mountain of defence. By the end of the match Souths had made 126 more tackles than the Broncos (422 v 296). • Despite having more possession in the 1st half and better field position, Brisbane actually went in at half time trailing by 6-4. Lesser teams may have been rattled by this, however, the Broncos went on with the job in the 2nd half to secure a well deserved win. • An early try in the 2nd half put them in front 10-6, showing that they managed the half-time break well and got straight back to work. Despite conceding an intercept try and surrendering the lead, the Broncos lifted and finished well on top of the Rabbits.

Brisbane Mental Vulnerabilities:

• Other than the errors to start the match and a completion rate of 73% this was a solid performance from the Broncos who showed little in the way of mental vulnerabilities.

South Sydney Mental Strengths:

• They toughed it out and stayed competitive for the entire match. In the past Souths would have turned their toes up and conceded plenty more points, but to their credit, they stayed in the arm wrestle with great defence and even managed to lead at half time. • They have key players who are playing well; some of the shots that Inglis put on were great, especially when he saved a try (2 on 1 in defence) with his ability to read the play. • Whilst they lost the match in the last 20 minutes as the Broncos skipped away, the performance that the Bunnies put in showed a great deal of character and a willingness to compete. This is what title contenders need and the Bunnies are starting to warm to the task of being contenders.

South Sydney Mental Vulnerabilities:

• They butchered a try in the first half and made some errors that contributed to the weight of possession the Broncos enjoyed. Other than that, this is a team that has finally started to fulfil its potential, largely due to some quality coaching.

The Broncos look like mounting a strong challenge for the title and the Bunnies are still on track for a visit to finals football.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mental Analysis of National Rugby League (NRL); Round 15

NRL Round 15 – St George v Canterbury

The below par Dragons return to Wollongong against a Bulldogs side that has got plenty of bite in them. The Dragons got touched up in the previous meeting between these teams in Round 2 and they have had a week off to plot their revenge.

Canterbury Mental Strengths:

• Shot out to a 6-0 lead after only 5 minutes and built it up to an 18-0 point lead in almost as many minutes. The Dragons had no answer for the impact of the big Bulldogs forwards when they were running hard and offloading. • They have some key players who are competitors and clever footballers. The try to Reynolds who striped the ball of an unsuspecting Dragon is an example of this. So is their attitude in defence. • The Bulldogs have an innovative plan in attack which involves their big an mobile forwards offloading the ball. More importantly, they have developed a confidence in this plan from the success they have had with it so far this season. Watch for other teams copying this tactic, especially given the doubts it creates for the defence.

Canterbury Mental Vulnerabilities:

• They clocked off. After flogging the Dragons on their prior meeting and racing out to an 18-0 lead, the Bulldogs kicked back and waited for the clock to wind down in the second half. This screams ‘we have this covered’ as they didn’t compete for most of the second half.

St George Mental Strengths:

• They managed to get within 8 points with 20 minutes remaining, albeit against a disinterested Bulldogs team, which shows some persistence, however, they were unable to step up and finish over the top of the depleted Bulldogs team (with their big men off the field) as they did on Anzac Day (v Roosters).

St George Mental Vulnerabilities:

• Their starts are terrible and have been an issue this season. To remedy this, coach Price needs to have a look at their preparation on game day to fix this issue. They may be too fatigued (physical) or mentally spent prior to the match starting or a whole bunch of other things. • They have a similar roster to the team that has won minor premierships and the 2010 competition, yet they are currently underperforming. A change of coach and a new approach to attack may have eroded some confidence, because the mental element is the only avenue to explain the drop in performance of this team.

The Dragons will struggle to make the 8, while the Bulldogs are on track for a visit to finals football.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mental Analysis of National Rugby League (NRL); Round 14

NRL Round 14 – Sydney v Brisbane

The Broncos visit Sydney minus their Origin stars while the Roosters are only missing halfback Mitchel Pearce. With driving rain making playing conditions very challenging both teams will need to be at their best mentally to perform well.

Brisbane Mental Strengths:

• With a new captain and a number of new faces in the team the Broncos look untroubled by the changes in personnel, which is a sign of a mentally tough football team. • They didn’t blow up or panic when the Roosters took the lead after being awarded 2 tries that involved the ball being dropped over the line – neither try went to the video referee. The Broncos didn’t sulk and their facial expressions were unchanged, which is a sign of a mentally tough team. • Played to the whistle and I cannot remember their stand-in captain approaching the referees despite some terrible decisions. The Broncos just got on with it and deservingly won.

Brisbane Mental Vulnerabilities:

• It’s tough coming up with one for this team. They have a young team who are showing maturity beyond their years and getting the job done. Things will only get better when Origin is over.

Sydney Mental Strengths:

• They somehow got within 6 points with 6 minutes remaining which shows some persistence, however, they fell short, conceding 2 tries in this time. Having a 12 point piggy back from the referees obviously helped.

Sydney Mental Vulnerabilities:

• Sydney are close to being the most mentally damaged squad in the NRL. This is highlighted by how mentally brittle they are when confronted with controversial referee decisions. There was little complaining from the Roosters about the fact that neither of their first 2 tries did not go to the video referee. The first try was dubious and the second was clearly dropped. Not a peep from Anasta after these. When the decisions go against them, they fall to pieces. • Their post-match referee bashing is a smoke screen for the deficiencies within the squad. Every team cops bad calls and rarely do these decisions cost the game. Mentally, the Roosters need to harden up and get over it; right now they sulk and suck their thumbs. Anasta’s facial expressions give him away and it takes a long time for the Roosters to settle down. The top line of the post season review is already written – referees cost us. This is wrong. What costs the Roosters is their inability to cope with adversity. Smith needs to install a co-captain who speaks to the referee, because by his own admission, Anasta is too frustrated and can’t let go of what he perceives to be injustice. This is impacting on his performance, so remove him from the job of talking to the referees. • The Roosters are a side that believes that they need ‘the rub of the green’ to win matches. The go-slow against St George that cost them the game was totally of their own doing and this type of approach involves placing a large amount of focus on external factors such as referees, weather, injuries and so on. The Roosters want to avoid competing as much as possible, hence, their sensitivity to getting ‘good calls’ from the referees. Some of the dropped balls and other errors the Roosters made were schoolboy errors. This is what puts them under pressure and gets them searching for someone else to blame. Enter the referees!

The Roosters have half a season to mentally harden up, while the Broncos will push for the title come September.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Mental Analysis of National Rugby League (NRL); Round 13

NRL Round 13 – Canterbury v South Sydney

This was a tight contest between two teams who on current form will most likely be playing finals football. The difference between the two teams this round was mental; Souths had the better of most of the match and missed an opportunity to snatch a victory, but to their credit, the Bulldogs competed right to the end for a well earned win.

Canterbury Mental Strengths:

• Des Hasler’s involvement has had a marked effect on the mental toughness of this team compared to 2011. His arrival and the performance of the team for the first half of the season clearly demonstrates the difference between coaches who know how to coach mental toughness and coaches who don’t. • Despite conceding an early 12-0 lead to the Bunnies, the Bulldogs kept competing and kept challenging, displaying the attitude that they were going to keep coming all game. • They were able to convert opportunities into points and scored 3 quick tries to lead by half time. • They stayed in the contest and showed no sign of fading away despite Souths drawing level at 18-all. • They were willing to give the ball to a player who has never kicked a field goal to make the play and he got the job done. • They still attacked after scoring a field goal, instead of trying to protect the lead by adopting the ‘go slow’ tactics.

Canterbury Mental Vulnerabilities:

• Whilst they have significantly improved this year (compared to 2011) and are still only in their 1st season under Des, they are certainly moving in the right direction. Like most teams, consistency and their starts can improve.

South Sydney Mental Strengths:

• Just like the Bulldogs, the arrival of a coach who knows how to coach mental toughness has made a significant impact on the Bunnies this season. Again, there is no other way to explain the improvement in performance given the same personnel on deck in 2012 as there were in 2011. In fact, minus Sandow, the Bunnies are in much better shape this season with a rookie half-back and a rookie coach. • Getting off to good starts has been a strong point for the Bunnies this season and reflects good pre-game preparation. • Being able to manage adversity is better this year than last year and as a result they are much more consistent in their performances. • Got back into the game despite the setback of conceding 3 tries at the end of the 1st half. • Competed right up to the end of the match an even had a chance to win it.

South Sydney Mental Vulnerabilities:

• Have had trouble consolidating their good starts and following them through to win matches. If they get this right they will be more difficult to stop. • Managing the hype of a likely semi-final appearance looms large on the mental horizon for the Bunnies; in the past they have not managed this well, so now is the time to start working on it.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Mental Analysis of National Rugby League (NRL); Round 12

NRL Round 12 – St George v Parramatta

St George came into this round with two golden point losses behind them, while Parramatta come off a bye and a terrible 2012 campaign so far. One team was going to come away with a win, or St George was going to create history with a 3rd consecutive golden point game.

Parramatta Mental Strengths:

1 They got off to a flying start; they forced an error in defence then scored from their first set with the ball 2 They were able to build some pressure and added to their lead with a second try in the 24th minute 3 They had a plan for the last 3 minutes of the match and they secured possession from the short kick off; they just didn’t get across the line with the tackles they had available to them

Parramatta Mental Vulnerabilities:

1 After the try in the 24th minute they were not able to score another point for the rest of the match. Despite scoring plenty of points in the dying stages of matches against the Raiders, Tigers and Sea Eagles the Eels struggled crossing the line again when confronted with a solid Dragons defence. With the result in the balance the Eels couldn’t deliver. 2 Conceded a long range try due to poor edge defence. 3 Couldn’t put the Dragons away despite having 5 extra completed sets.

St George Mental Strengths:

1 Didn’t panic after conceding a try in the first 2 minutes of the match. 2 Were able to come off 2 golden point losses and give the Eels a 12 point start after 24 minutes to eventually run them down with 3 minutes to spare – this takes some nerve (composure, sticking to the defensive structures, taking advantage of limited opportunities).

St George Mental Vulnerabilities:

1 Consistent poor starts. The pre-game routine of the Dragons needs to be looked at because something is wrong with it. There is no other way to explain this issue. 2 Possible complacency, which may also be a factor in their poor starts. They were a long way off performing like the team that defeated Manly on the same ground back in round 4.

St George have shown both good and poor form this season, however, with recent successful seasons behind them they are aware of and have already demonstrated that they can produce what is needed for the remainder of the year. Hopefully, they don’t leave their run too late.

I would like to say that Parramatta have improved mentally over the 12 rounds this season, but I am struggling to find any evidence. As an external observer I am not able to measure any specific variables that would indicate an improvement, so I can only go off their performances and comments to the media when explaining their losses.

They are consistently finding ways to lose, despite displaying patches of the skills required to win games. The missing piece is of their puzzle is mental; something has to change otherwise their season will continue in the same manner.

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