In an interview that aired Tuesday on NBC News' "Today," University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban touched on the mental health side of college athletics.
According to Saban, a lot of pressure can be "self-inflicted" because athletes are so "focused on results." Saban, whose team has consistently been among the best in college football since he came to Tuscaloosa, emphasized the importance of athletes focusing on the daily grind to be a champion rather than focusing on winning a championship.
"Pressure is kind of self-inflicted, and it's self-inflicted because you're focused on results," Saban told NBC's Stephanie Gosk. "We want to focus on winning a championship, or do you want to focus on, 'What do I have to do each day to be able to be a champion, so we'll have a chance to win the championship?'"
"There's a lot less anxiety in the second approach (and) a lot more anxiety when you're worrying about what's going to happen in the future," he added. "We want them to focus on that ... and try to build on positive performance and not focus so much on the bad things that happen."
Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young said athletes face a lot of pressure to succeed.
"I feel like a lot of times athletes can be put on this pedestal, and as athletes, we can internalize that," he explained. "We can feel like we're looked at a certain way, we should be great at everything, it should come easy, and that's just not the case."
"I want to make everyone proud," he added.
NBC News then highlighted Saban's "24-hour rule," which is the time allotted to dwell on the game the team just played.
"You have to go back to being technical. OK, why did this happen? And what can I do to fix it rather than being so focused on the criticism or what everybody else thinks because you control your thoughts? You control your feelings," Saban outlined.
The segment mentioned senior defensive lineman D.J. Dale, who said he got "depressed" after a serious injury. Dale recalled going to Saban about his problems and was reassured by his head coach.
Saban's full conversation is set to be available Wednesday on NBC's website and streaming service Peacock.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email trent.baker@1819News.com.
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