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Using a Mistake Ritual to Refocus; An NFL Example

It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, it doesn’t matter what happened in the season or what happened the last play, there’s always an opportunity to make the next play. You can’t let it affect you and I think that’s the great thing about this locker room that everybody has that mindset where yeah I made a mistake, but I’m going to be out there fighting.

– Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen

In the first quarter of the Vikings vs. Saints game, Adam Thielen fumbled the ball on the Minnesota 37-yard line after a 3-yard reception. New Orleans took advantage of this mistake and turned it into a field goal.

Recovering from such a significant mistake in a big game can be tough, but Thielen knew exactly what to do: he implemented a “Mistake Ritual” called “the flush.”

A mistake ritual is a physical gesture or technique that helps athletes quickly acknowledge a mistake and move past it, allowing them to refocus on the most important play – the next one.

In PCA Workshops, we encourage parents, coaches, and athletes to develop a mistake ritual. When young athletes makes a mistake on the field or court, they often immediately look to their parent(s) or coach for their reaction. Seeing a physical motion like “brush it off,” “flush it” or “let it go,” will help athletes refocus on the next play. 

To learn more about Mistake Rituals and their impact on an athlete’s mindset, check out some of our resources below.