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Mavs' Mental Toolbox Getting the Job Done

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MANKATO, Minn. -

At the start of the season the MSU football program looked for help from the school's sports psychology department to help keep their players' heads in the game.

The Mavericks currently own a perfect 10-0 record and the #2 ranking in all of Division II football, so it may be working. 
With seven and half minutes to go in the game, MSU found themselves down 24-10 against Southwest State.

Cindra Kamphoff was on the sidelines, and says the players didn't doubt themselves for a second.
Cindra Kamphoff says, "We all face adversity in sport and in life. On the that can be when you're down 14 or when you make a mistake, so you have to be confident, mentally strong, motivated and believe that you can actually get up and win the game."

And that's what they did - after a quick minute and a half drive, Quarterback Jon Wolf punches it into the end zone.

Their next drive, a six play, 70-yard masterpiece ended with Wolf hitting Adam Thielen for the touchdown, sending it to overtime, where MSU would eventually win 34-31.

That mental toughness when the chips are down are key in football, and all sports - and it's what is taught with Associate Professor Cindra Kamphoff's 'mental tool box'.

And perhaps most importantly, the players have bought in to the system.
Senior wideout Adam Thielen says, "If you don't have that focus and the knowledge of the game and just those intangibles - it's not all about athleticism and how big and strong and fast you are."

Kamphoff meets with the team once a week to go over tricks to keep them focused on the field. The mental toolbox borders on quirky, including a flushable toy toilet to hammer home the message.

"In order to do that, you have to flush mistakes. You have to stay in the present and you can't be thinking about the last play or even the upcoming play. You have to be in the moment and do your job."

Kamphoff hopes to expand the service to other sports on campus, and maybe even further down the line.