January 14, 2011 3:15 pm

Will less talk lead to more (and better) action?

There’s a term, known as “paralysis by analysis,” that is often applicable to pro athletes and sports. The theory, basically, goes that too much criticism, too much stimulation, too much feedback — particularly from a coach or coaches — can result in a player shutting down mentally, and not processing anything. It’s fair to debate whether or not it should happen, but it does, and it can be particularly acute when a team is going through a losing streak. Today, I asked Terry Murray about his philosophy on that balance. Clearly, if he wanted to, he could sit the team down and have them watch their mistakes on video, and critique them, for hours at a time, but what is the balance between doing that and just letting the players try to play with clearer heads on the ice?

MURRAY: “There is a balance. That’s why we did not have any video review today. It’s important, in my mind, that you have that balance. It is something that you have to be aware of, and not overwhelm the players every day, when the game is over, highlighting things that need to be corrected. As I talked about to the team in a meeting today, there were a lot of good things that happened in the game that are indications that we’re starting to get back on the right side of things. Then you go through the practice, to get some of the fundamentals of our system back in place again. I think that starts to bring that balance back, and the confidence back, the good feel. There was good energy in the practice today. It’s that fine line that you need to be aware of, every time that you go through a difficult stretch. It’s more important to put your arm around a guy and pat him on the back, when it’s a hard time, and say, `It’s OK, we’re coming. Just keep doing the same thing.’ When things are going great, you can really put the finger down and clamp down a lot harder and demand more, because everybody is on page emotionally and they’re hungry to do the right thing and get better.”

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