Like many others, I sat down on Saturday and witnessed one of the best AFL grand finals ever in the match played between West Coast Eagles and Collingwood.
Reading some of the comments from the respective coaches on Sunday, one lamented the lack of “dare” whilst the other talked about “head, heart and gut.”
A closer look at scoring patterns from both teams seems to support these statements. The pattern shows that Collingwood scored the majority of their goals in the first half of each quarter while the Eagles managed to kick crucial goals within the last five minutes of the first, second and final quarters.
Given that the Eagles were five goals down towards the end of the first quarter, this ability to execute effectively proved to be the ultimate difference.
Our great game is a feat of human endurance both physically and mentally, repeated efforts, end-to-end transitions, collision contact and astute strategic management by the coaching staff make the game what it is and what it means to so many.
There has been many studies completed surrounding physical fatigue and its impact on the mental side of the game as well as studies demonstrating that mental fatigue impacts on a sportsman ability to execute.
I’m sure this is not news to anyone who follows sport.
Now, I know that there could be other factors that people who watched the game could refer to as a point of difference such as: was it a block on Brayden Maynard by Willi Rioli that led to Dom Sheed’s goal?
Leigh Mathews stated that the umpires seized up in the final quarter by not paying free kicks that should have been paid.
At the end of the day, the calls were not made so the score line stands, irrespective of whether these decisions were right or wrong.
The cold hard facts show that West Coast simply executed better that Collingwood. By facts, I refer to West Coast kicking five of their eleven goals in the last five minutes of three out of the four quarters.
Did the Collingwood players drop their guard towards the end of each quarter? Was it mental, physical or both?
Coach Nathan Buckley is not the only coach this year I have heard use the term ‘dare’. I think we can say that dare, in sporting terms, means to have the ability to mentally apply yourself to execute the physical side of the game for maximum results.
My definition not anyone else’s.
Winning is as much about the mental side of the game as it is the physical. What we saw on Saturday demonstrates just how important being mentally prepared is.
You cannot play with dare if you are not mentally prepared to take a risk.
Think Jeremy McGovern leaving Jordan De Goey for the intercept mark that led to Sheed’s mark and subsequent goal.
With teams jostling for an advantage each season, sports psychology has come banging on the door in a big big way.
Both teams were magnificent on Saturday but the Eagles executed better when it counted and that was the difference.
Were they mentally better prepared than Collingwood? I think so.