‘Thinking Right in Sport’ Mizzou Football’s Mental Edge

With so much focus being paid toward the physical aspect of football, we often ignore the mental side of it. Throughout the year, from the preseason to the postseason, athletes across the country devote countless hours to improving themselves physically. Whether it’s drills to improve their skills, sprints to improve their speed or lifting weights to get stronger, athletes are constantly working to better themselves on the outside–because that’s what people see. The outside is what gets sacks, hurdles defenders, makes diving catches and throws touchdowns. But what controls all those functions that the muscles perform? The mind.

Maintaining  positive vibes and translating them into focus and performance takes work. That’s where Dr. Rick McGuire’s guide to “Thinking Right in Sport” comes in. The Mizzou Tigers are embracing the expertise and knowledge of MU’s nationally recognized sport psychology program and its director to gain a distinct advantage in preparation that will ultimately translate into execution on the field.

Here’s an outline of “Thinking Right in Sport”:

The most basic understanding:

1.  Wrong thoughts, negative thoughts and distracted thoughts hurt sport performance.

2. Right thoughts, positive thoughts and focused thoughts help sport performance.

3. Thinking right is a skill, and like any other skill, it can be learned.

4. Our goal is to be able to focus on every play.

5. And to be able to re-focus for the next play.


1. Focus is just a thought.

2. Focus is controllable.

3. Focus is a choice.

4. You make the choice to focus. It is up to you to take control.

Understanding Thinking:

1. People’s thoughts are independent. I think my thoughts and you think yours.

2. Thoughts are thought one at a time.

3. Everybody picks his own thoughts. I pick my thoughts and you pick yours.

4. You can’t force other people to think anything and other people can’t force you to think anything.

Positive “Self-Talk”:

1. Self-talk = thinking.

2. Your thoughts are your “self-talk.”

3. Your thoughts are your own conversation with yourself.

4. Your self-talk is the MOST INFLUENTIAL conversation that you ever have!

5. Have POSITIVE self-talk!

6. Negative self-talk hurts performance.

7. Negative self-talk is thinking wrong.

8. Positive self-talk helps performance.

9. Positive self-talk is thinking right.

8. Control and change it! Choose positive self-talk and positive thoughts!

The “Self-Talk” Model:

1. When we encounter situations, we have thoughts.

2. Our thoughts affect our emotions.

3. Our emotions affect our physical being.

4. Our physical being affects our behavior.

5. Thus, our thoughts affect our behaviors.

6. Our thoughts affect how we play.

7. Positive behaviors in football = GREAT PLAYS!

8. When we meet challenging or hard situations, when we become upset, we must choose positive self-talk! We must think right!

It is only with that solid foundation of mental training that the Tigers can achieve the Missouri Football Team Bottom Line.