Just get in

As the NFL Superbowl finished this week, I can’t help but think back to Drag’n Thrust’s run through the National Championships this October.

We faltered early at Regions in Iowa, losing to an energized Bird team, who played a flawless game.  But Drag’n refocused and went on to win the play-in game taking second in the North Central Regional.  We made the National Tournament, that’s all that mattered.

As we prepared for Nationals, I used the Baltimore Ravens as an example.  Baltimore came into the NFL Playoffs as the AFC four seed, right in the middle of the pack, just like DNT’s eight seed.  Using examples like the 2012 Ravens and the 2010 Packers, I continually preached to the team that seed didn’t matter; we were in the tournament and whoever came out to play could take the title.

photo by ultiphotos.com

photo by ultiphotos.com

More often than not, at the highest level of sport, the team that plays hot when it comes to the playoffs or the final tournament wins the championship; that’s why it will prove very difficult to win the Triple Crown.  From my experience at the Mixed National Championships over the years, its not the team that has dominated the regular season, it is the team that has a great tournament.  All you need to do is get in; its a new season in the playoffs.

2013 DNT didn’t have the greatest regular season, but we had grit and determination and we also knew that Nationals is a new season.  Although the results were less than great in the regular season, Drag’n was stopped in the Semis at the US Open and lost in the Quarters at the Pro Flight Finale, we kept the end goal in mind.  It was great to compete for the Triple Crown, but that was not our goal.  Yes, I want to win every game and tournament, but it is important to keep the end goal in mind.  Those growing pains were crucial to becoming a better and mentally stronger team.  When you lose you have real tangible things you can work on.

The regular season is for making adjustments, losing and winning together to build the strongest team possible.  When you finally get to the big dance, you pull out all the stops.  On Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Nationals it’s win or go home.  We pulled out all the stops and we continued to play.  Nationals is a new tournament and the results of the regular season don’t matter.  It’s what you learn from those wins and losses that matters.  And most important, its that grit your team develops together that allows your team to persevere through the long, tough national tournament.

I read a lot of Packers Blogs, and I read a quote by Steve Silverman this week in his 5 Things Every Playoff Team Needs to Do to get to the Super Bowl, “We know that seedings don’t always matter, because a hot team may be able to overcome a team that’s been consistently productive in the regular season. It’s about matchups, and coaches who can put their players in a position to succeed will often find a way to survive and advance in the playoffs.”  Drag’n seemed to matchup well against the teams in their pool and the bracket.

photo by ultiphotos.com

photo by ultiphotos.com

We did have some tough games earlier in the season with teams we saw at Nationals (such as Odyssee), but we knew what to expect and game planned for them.  I bring two great things to the table as a coach, I gave the team some needed grit and I also put players in a position to succeed.  Drag’n is a deep team and when we found a matchup we liked, that player or group of players saw the field more.  I put players on the field that would disrupt our opponents offense and would not be phased by our opponents defense.  And because of our depth, we were able to get everyone involved, not with equal playing time, but where they would be successful against our opponents.  We rode the hot players in one game and then rode a different player the next.

DNT played a fantastic tournament and took home the national title.  The playoffs are a new season, it comes down to who you matchup against, putting players in a position to succeed, and pulling out all the stops.  As a die hard Green Bay Packers fan, I hope with the return of Aaron Rodgers and the tough season in which Green Bay has had, the Pack can go on one of those incredible playoff runs.

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