The 2020 Superbowl is fast approaching and will be upon us before you can say “hut!”. With many of the performances of the past couple of Superbowl games being widely derided as some of the most disappointing in years, it’s worth considering what this year’s players can take onto the field to ensure they bring their A-game in February.
While team coaches are famously known for looking for inspiration in unusual places, one area they have neglected is the poker table. Professional poker players, who many – including the IMSA (International Mind Sports Association) – consider professional athletes in their own right, have plenty of key skills that we should be seeing a lot more of from all of the league teams. Here are the key lessons that NFL players can learn from professional poker players in 2020.
1. Actually Sticking to Strategy
While the trope of the NFL coach blaming their own player for not following the on-field strategy closely enough has almost become a cliche, it does bear repeating that many players would benefit from following their prescribed plays more closely. This is a skill that poker players must develop from the outset, as a rigid gameplan is absolutely key to keeping it cool and working your way up to a winning hand.
All top-level poker players are masters of self-discipline. Not only must they know how to keep their cool during the most intense moments of a game, but they also need to know when to hold back and not make any rash decisions when the chips are down. If the many, many, on-field fights and bust-ups in recent NFL history have taught us anything, it’s that a little self-discipline among players may go a long way.
3. Recognizing an Advantage or Opportunity
It has been said that the key to a winning play is being able to recognize even the most fleeting window of opportunity and be able to act on it in an instant. This is something that poker players know all too well, which is why they meticulously search for online poker platforms that provide them with the best competition and odds of winning, using expert sites to find all the relevant information. This attention to detail and willingness to exploit an opportunity is something we need to see more of in football.
4. Getting into an Opponent’s Head
Any winning poker knows that a critical component of winning is being able to get inside an opponent’s head. Interrupting the focus of a rival and undermining their confidence is key to getting the upper hand. While football players typically have the opportunity to do this at the very beginning of a play, when they are face-to-face with the opposing team, the practice of taunting and trading barbs has apparently gone out of fashion in recent years. Perhaps reviving this practice would go a long way.
The key poker skills of mental resilience, agility, and discipline are all ingredients for a winning NFL team. Let’s hope we see more of these qualities at the Superbowl.