How the All Blacks Harness Mindset in the Moments that Matter

We’ve been glued to the Rugby World Cup not only because we’re massive rugby fans, but also because it’s been brilliant to see the teams talking about the importance of mental skills when preparing for the big games.

The All Blacks are particularly vocal about mindset and how it helps them to keep their focus in the moments that really matter. It has been a core part of their training since 2010 when they engaged in Red2Blue with Gilbert Enoka, supported by our co-founder Ceri Evans. The Red2Blue mindset work was part of a wider focus on creating a sustainable high-performance environment and culture within the team.

Shift, Review, Reset

Mindset training is about preparing the team to make the right decisions during intense pressure points and to remain present in the moments that matter. The evidence of that has been apparent with the All Blacks throughout this Rugby World Cup – they’ve demonstrated a clear focus and the ability to reset when needed. This deliberate shifting in the moment, along with a ‘review and reset’ approach from match to match, has helped the All Blacks to stay focussed rather than getting distracted in challenge moments and going off task.

As they gear up for the RWC final tomorrow night, you can bet the All Blacks have devoted as much time and attention to practicing and developing their mental skills this week, as they have to considering the physical, technical and tactical elements of the game. At a World Cup Finalist level, the physical elements are a given – what can change everything is your mindset.

Do It Like You Mean It…

At first glance, the Red2Blue mindset technique may appear simple – it’s deliberately designed with simplicity in mind, so that it can be applied in the moment. However, like any skill, the harder your work at it, the more your practice, the more you use it, the better you become. It requires deliberate practice, deliberate adoption and deliberate application. The trick is using it consistently and getting to the point where you’re skilfully applying it in the moments that really matter. 

Those at the top will always face very real challenges and ‘Red Head’ moments when something doesn’t go their way in a match. The answer is to become more skilled at staying focused so that you are able make the right decisions during those intense pressure points. You need to remain present rather than letting a ‘Red’ moment distract you. A strong mindset allows you to get right back on track and refocus as soon as that ‘Red’ moment happens.

Get Ready Now To Be Ready When

Mindset is a critical element in preparing for any big sporting event and needs to be considered holistically along with the fine-tuning of technical skills, the tactical preparation and the physical execution. Together, all of these things contribute to achieving a great performance.

It’s not just elite athletes and sportspeople who benefit from developing their mindset. The trick with any pressurised moment is preparation – Get Ready Now To Be Ready When. That might be a sports tournament, but it could equally apply in business, education, daily life – any situation that requires us to perform under pressure. By enhancing our mindset skills, we equip ourselves to become the very best we can be in those moments that really matter!

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