Broncos coach: The power of living in the present

|| May 28, 2020

By Anthony Seibold

Brisbane Broncos coach 

For the rest of this remarkable NRL season, the Broncos have to borrow the thinking of one of Australia’s greatest cricketers.

Matthew Hayden was good for so many reasons including the way he focused his mind when he was batting in matches. For Matt, the most important thing was the next ball he would face. It wasn’t the ball that he may have just hit for four. Or the ball that took the edge of his bat and was dropped by a fielder.

Matt stayed in the present, worrying only about that next ball and how he would handle it. He didn’t dwell on the near misses or the moments of joy. They had no bearing on that next ball unless he let them in.

The players who dwell on the bad moments are those that don’t play to their potential. That’s one of the things we’ve been focusing on at the Broncos as we prepare for the resumption of the NRL season tonight.

We have 18 consecutive matches coming up without a break before the finals – no team in Broncos history has been asked to play so many weekends straight. Whether we play more games after that depends on how we perform in those 18 matches.

During the break, I have been in regular video meetings with Australian cricket coach Justin Langer, Crusaders rugby union coach Scott Robertson and Melbourne Demons AFL coach Simon Goodwin.

We’ve swapped ideas, picking the insights from each other’s sports to bring into our own teams.

Justin Langer’s description of Hayden – his former opening batting partner – hit the mark for me before our squad returned to training for tonight’s game against Parramatta.

We’re coming into this game with a 2-0 win-loss record before the season was put on hold. We’ve also been reminded plenty of times by journalists that Parramatta thrashed us the last time we played.

Those two factors should have no bearing on this game, unless you let your brain think otherwise. And the brain is more likely to remember bad experiences before it recalls the times of triumph.

As a coaching staff, we try to help our players with the present while disarming the past. If you can’t let go of the past, whether it be last week’s win or last week’s loss, you cannot perform to your best.

In life, everyone makes errors. The error becomes a mistake if you dwell on it and provide the brain with negative thoughts that enable it to happen again.

There are more mental factors at play than usual as we negotiate a season with its many new restrictions for NRL players and coaches. Right now, we can basically go from home to training and back again, with the highlight of the week perhaps a trip to the shops for essential items.

We have to pay that tax now but the reward is significant – the chance to feature in the resumption of major team sport in the southern hemisphere.

When we meet Parramatta, there are plenty of things we can’t control: the recent rule changes; the change to one referee; and how Parramatta has prepared.

But we can control how we have prepared and whether we’re going to stay in the present and focus on what’s coming our way.

This is a time for resilience and it’s a time for excitement. We can’t wait to play again.