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Mindful : December 2014
During his g rad school years, Car- roll was also intrigued by the work of Gallwey, the author of The Inner Game of Tennis, who concluded that the biggest obstacles most athletes face a re the doubts, fea rs, a nd lapses in focus that arise in high-pressure situations. The solution, he prescribed, was to quiet the mind by shifting attention to what was actually happening in any given moment. As Gallwey put it, “The greatest efforts in sports are when the mind is as still as a glass lake.” Gallwey focused primarily on indi- vidual sports, such as golf and tennis, but Carroll was convinced his insights could have a dramatic impact on teams as well. “The foundation of performance is trust and confidence, which allows you to focus,” he says. “That’s what I lea rned from Gallwey. I’ve taken some of what he says and directed it toward the team, as if they are one mind, one person. I try to develop the confidence of the whole team In Carroll’s view, performance is grounded in trust and confidence, which are the source of strong focus. At the core of his philosophy, Carroll believes that everyone—not just a few talented high draft picks—can learn how to tap into their highest potential. He was first introduced to this line of think- ing when he was a grad student at UOP and starting to read Maslow, who is best known for his research on “hierarchy of needs” and “self-actualization.” In his studies of high achievers, Maslow discov- ered that many of his subjects frequently had what he called “peak experiences,” moments of intense clarity that gave them access to parts of themselves that were usually hidden. After reading this, Carroll imagined creating situations for players to develop the confidence to set their talents free and pursue their potential, rather than forcing them to perform a certain way. However, one of his early experiments along these lines when he was an assis- tant coach at UOP was disappointing. He asked the defensive backs what they needed to improve and incorporated their ideas into the next day’s practice. But when the head coach found out, he scowled, “Don’t you ever ask the players what they wa nt.” Still, Carroll kept experimenting with ways to train players to unlock their hidden powers. “The possibility to reach your highest level is available to everyone if you work hard and go about it the right way,” he says. “I think there are so many things that can distract us from getting to that clarity. But we all have the power to figure that out if guided properly and coached well enough. Everybody needs to be coached. I know I do.” When I ask him who he considers his coach, he laughs and says his wife, Glena. so that they can perform without fear and play the way they’re capable of.” Several years ago, Michael Murphy, the cofounder of the Esalen Insititute, introduced Carroll to an American India n concept known as “long body.” It was discovered by researcher W.G. Roll while studying Iroquois tribes. He found that under certain conditions individuals within the group developed a “single consciousness.” The tribe, Roll wrote, “is likened to a body connected where, once connected, it operates as a single entity, functioning, sensing, and feeling as one.” “That made sense to me,” says Ca rroll, “because that ’s exactly the process we go through as a team. That connectedness is available to us at all times. But you have to invest in it to make it come to life. You ea rn that connection with all the sha ring you do and all the common experiences you have. It takes big things to happen to draw you together so that you can oper- ate in a more connected fashion.” → PHOTOGRAPHSBYRODMAR(LEFT)ANDOTTOGREULEJR/GETTYIMAGESSPORTS/GETTYIMAGES(RIGHT) December 2014 mindful 49