It’s the closing minutes of the All-Ireland semi-final and Dublin are throwing the kitchen sink at Kerry. With their lead narrowed to a single point the All-Ireland champions are under pressure. Dublin have momentum. They have the desire. But what they don’t have is something more precious. It’s the quality that only champions can summon up. A quality that defines the greats. The quality that winners have.
Seen for example, in the movie When We Were Kings. Under the severest pressure from George Foreman, Muhammad Ali was able to coolly and deeply look inside himself and find a solution to counter the awesome punching power of Foreman – Rope A Dope. The quality of Coolness Under Pressure.
For Kerry, with Dublin sensing the moment, they were able to calmly weave their way upfield, through the Dublin defence to score the winning points. Playing their game. At their tempo. At their pace. Not rushed or panicked by the Dublin barrage. But totally in charge. It’s the very opposite of choking. It’s raising your game to a higher level when the big questions are being asked.
So how did they do it. How did Kerry finally see off the Dublin challenge? Well, it comes out from a state of Supreme Confidence. Supreme Confidence happens when a team have full and total belief in themselves. That trusts each other. That back each other. That love being tested. Because when they are tested, they can show how good they are. They know they can go into their locker and find their A game. And in their presence of their A game, they simply relax into a way of playing. Or to be more precise, they let the game play them.
There is no thought required. No trying. Only acquiescing to the state of trust that enables their game to flow. It’s beyond the reach of many. But when it happens you know you are seeing the game and the team as one. Deep play. The more they do it, the more they are able to do it. That’s why great champions can seem unbeatable. Only familiarity or arrogance can disconnect the team from this state of eminence.