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Mindful : December 2014
Most NFL coaches—especially the control-freak variety—would find this kind of hyper-cha rged atmosphere unbearable. But for Carroll, this is an awa reness exercise. He believes in immersing his players in a world of distractions to train them to quiet their minds in the midst of chaos. “I’m trying to create a really thriving environment,” he says. “That mea ns ma king it as rich as possible. So there’s noise, competition, activity, energy—like when we play. It’s better than a pristine vacuum-type environment, as far as I’m concerned. Because we never play there. We don’t talk about mindfulness that much, but that’s how we operate. We focus on what’s right in front of us. We don’t care about the other team or the environment we’re playing in. We just take every game as if it’s the most important in the world and focus right on that. That takes great mindfulness.” It seems to be working. When Ca rroll took over the Seahawks in 2010 after leading the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans to two national cha mpionships, the pundits were skepti- cal. Sure, they said, his positive, rah-rah approach might work with fresh-faced college boys, but not in the serious, hard- ass world of the NFL. But Carroll and general ma nager John Schneider slowly rebuilt the roster with players who were languishing elsewhere (e.g., star running back Marshawn Lynch), as well as out-of- the-box draft picks, such as quarterback Russell Wilson a nd cornerback Richard Sherman. And last season the Seahawks not only won the Super Bowl, they domi- nated the formidable Denver Broncos in a surehanded, seemingly effortless ma nner that had other NFL coaches scratching their heads and wondering what exactly Carroll was doing up there in the coffee capital of the world. Pete Carroll has never been one to follow the crowd. While other coaches clung religiously to outdated, my-way- or-the-highway tactics, he was creating Carroll doesn’t force players to conform to a rigid, alienating system. He focuses on cultivating each player’s unique qualities, and asks them to contribute those to the team. In Carroll’s view, high performance results from building strong relationships with each player. Here he congratulates linebacker Leroy Hill, #56, and tackle Brandon Mebane, #92, on forcing the opponent to give up the ball. PHOTOGRAPHBYBRIANBAHR/GETTYIMAGESSPORTS/GETTYIMAGES 46 mindful December 2014