Raising Expectations


What are you expecting from the upcoming Semi’s and Finals? What are the players and coaches expecting? The Best in Sport manage their own expectations and formulate top-class expectations – The Brand investigates.

In the last weeks we have looked at how, what you believe influences your ‘Away’ performance. We discussed how ‘Mature’ players control their thoughts and emotions while in the middle of the battle. Last week, we saw that effective decision making can only come from ‘Owning your Authority’.

This week we have high expectations for another brilliant and exploring discussion, following from the quotes in our local newspapers.

In The Star, Monday 2 October 2006, Michael Schumacher said after winning the Chinese Grand Prix, against seasonal odds is leading the World Championship level on points with Alonso: “Now we go into the last two races to see what happens and I believe we will go to the last one before a decision is reached. It is going to be an interesting couple of weeks and I am looking forward to it very much.?

The Citizen, Monday 2 October 2006, Western Province coach Kobus van der Merwe: “Now, it’s all systems go for next weekend’s showdown with the Bulls at Loftus Versveld. It’s a great challenge, a great opportunity.?

The Citizen, Monday 2 October 2006, Pote Human coach of the Blue Bulls: “From here on in, the playing fields are as level as bowling greens. The side which wins its last two games, will win the Currie Cup.?

Beeld, Monday 2 October 2006, Eugene Eloff coach of the Lions: “It would have been a bonus if we made the Semi’s.?

To what degree do expectations influence behaviour?

The Pygmalion research done in the past in the US, found the expectations of teachers alone, to be determinant of the performance results of the students.

What can we learn about a person, from his expectations of an approaching event?

Comparing only these four quotes, we have a great opportunity to view the ‘Frames of Mind’ of each person, how they play the game and view their potential of the next two weeks.

Schumacher is in a class of his own, no wonder, with such an enhancing view of the races ahead. We do not find a single word that detracts from his potential, every word is factually based, not emotionalized. The races hold zero threat, the next race is not definitive – see how he creates a ‘space’ of possibility in his mind. The two weeks ahead are just information – not ‘loaded’ in any way. He almost displays a curiosity, an eagerness for what may happen. This is a Master Class in how to manage your expectations, for all of us, thank you Michael!

Van der Merwe talks about a ‘showdown’ – do you also see in your mind ‘OK Corral’ looming ahead – a ‘challenge’ – maybe we make it maybe not – and only then a statement about the ‘opportunity’ and with that last word he brings about potential. Do you also get a feeling of ‘gung-ho’, ‘go for it’, ‘no risks no glory’ and is that not to a large degree what we experienced from Province this season? His words are emotionally ‘loaded’, a win-lose thinking process and so it becomes more difficult for him or his players to be like a Tiger Woods – “They go about their work very professionally, almost with a cold kind of ruthlessness.?

Human in one sentence wipes out any limiting beliefs Province players might have had about ‘Fortress Loftus’ – now Loftus is reduced to a bowling green – how intimidating can that be? Don’t expect any flashy lights or fancy fireworks from this guy. I did though, really enjoyed the ‘hard man’s’ logic – “The side which wins its last two games, will win the Currie Cup.?

Classic man, absolutely classic!

Eloff explains why the Lions were never going to be in the Semi’s through their own actions. He ‘says’ that the Semi’s where not part of their plans, and their brilliant performance this year was unexpected. He tells us he had license to take risks. They threw the dice and did not get the ‘bonus’.

How do expectations create an attractor frame? How do we experience what we expect, we see what we sort for, we get what we think we should get?

Remember when your wife fell pregnant and all of a sudden all the expecting women in the world walked past you? Remember when you set your mind on just that new perfect car – and then you saw that car around every corner? Remember every time when you thought a lady was out of you league, but tried your luck in any case and got burned? Remember also every time you just ‘knew’ you had a girl’s number and scored?

Was all of that pure coincidence?

Your own evidence begs to differ – you get what you expect – win or lose!!!

In what way do your expectations determine your performance?

In what way does a player’s expectations of a game influence his performance?

In what way does a coach’s expectation of his team influence their performance?

The Brand is a Coach and Trainer in the Mental side of the game, focusing on the X-Factor – the difference that makes a difference – in Business and Sport, for Individuals and Teams. Read more about realising your potential, in the 80% plus determinant factor of success, on The Brand’s website at www.fincoach.biz  

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  1. Picking up from the Brent Russel tread.

    What do the coaches expect from the man?

    I believe Brent would be devastating in France.

    He would achieve ‘cult’ status in France.

    I would expect nothing less.

  2. I watched Schumacher winning and heard his post race comment, and was blow away.

    He was absolutely estatic after his win – fully emotional, some would say tooooo emotional.

    And then he gave this brilliant view on the next two weeks – minutes later.

    Absolute class.

  3. Everyone who saw Michael’s reaction after jumping out of his car agree that it was one of the most emotional ever.

    What could expectations have to do with that?

    Michael said: “I started the race today, with the idea to keep the damage to a minimum.”

    Given that emotions is the end result of evaluative thinking – yes and it happens in milli-seconds – Michael ‘got’ so much more than he expected.

    Therefore the corresponding tooooo much – reaction.

  4. The Brand,

    Very nice article.

    I wrote an article questioning our SA sprotsmen and women’s professionality. I also mentioned Micheal in that article. One cannot get past his guy’s total commitment to his sport. The way he handles himself is sometimes astonishing.

    Yes he is in the firing line more often than not, but that comes with the territory. If you are on top, people will try anything to shoot you down. At this stage it is very important to concentrate on the way you handle yourself.

    Many of our rugby teams and their supporters become windgat as soon as they seem to be on their way to the top, instead of first reaching the top and then be humble in success. They actually start believing so much in themselves that it truns into arrogance and complacency. Balance is the key for me.

    Don’t harp on what you did yesterday, but rather focus on what you believe you can do today or tomorrow.

  5. “The side which wins its last two games, will win the Currie Cup.?

    This is almost as bad as the guy just before Superrugby each week.

    “Dit moet ons weet. Die span met die meeste punte op die telbord, is die span wat gaan wen”

    Or something like that.

  6. The article “Looking for more value” is a great example of managing expectations.

    After reading through the article, one thinks differently about the Semi’s against the Bulls from a Province perspective.

    All of a sudden – winning alone is not everything.

    Now the game holds so much more value – all because our expectations have been influenced.

    Now Province can say afterwards – win or lose – they got sooooo much value out of the game.

    I wonder how this plays out in the palyers minds.

  7. Donner, that’s why I generally hate the post match interviews. “We made far too many mistakes today,” being the oldest and stupidest interview cliche, particularly loved by SA provincial captains.

    Stating the obvious. We want to know why so many mistakes made – were players not prepared? were players too anxious? were they simply not good enough?

    It’s what they don’t say that is most interesting.

  8. The Brand,

    I would think it actually takes some pressure off them. Yes winning is important, but remember to focus on the experience and learn from it.

  9. Donner

    So few people realise that your expectations – set you up.

    Expectations becomes a steering mechanism.

    It becomes your reality.

    Windgat and arrogant players believe themselves and start to believe their expectations.

    Then the fall is swift.

    Notice I said they believe themselves – and not they believe IN themselves.

    Huge difference – to believe yourselve and to believe IN yourselve.

  10. Postie,

    I have more respect for a losing captain wlaking up there and just saying “We did our best, but were outplayed today by a better team.”

    Leave it at that. Don’t look for excuses. There aren’t any. Take the Pumas for instance. What excuses could they really offer after this CC season. The only reason they lost 14 games is because they were not good enough. Go back and get better.

  11. Posti

    Those post match interviews say soooo much – in what they are not saying.

    I once compared SA player’s post match comments – to NZ an Aus during the Super 14.

    I could not stop laughing.

    I look forward to a player – like Bevan Fortuin when he was MOM for the first time – saying it and enjoying it.

    Basically being alive!!!

    Are our players coached to say things that way afterwards?

  12. Brand

    “Huge difference – to believe yourselve and to believe IN yourselve. ”

    Excatly. Seems very few have realised that.

    I can think of quite a few sportsmen that fell victim to that:

    Bobby Skinstad
    Joe van Niekerk
    Jacques Villenieve
    Robbie Fleck

    Another perfect example of how to do it right is Naas Botha.

  13. Jock Stein, the Glasgow Celtic manager during its most succesful run in the 60s and 70s (9 championships, one European Cup, one other European Cup final) once found his team trailing arch rivals Rangers for most of the season. But even as Celtic whittled away at the lead, he refused to talk his team up. All the time he said: “Rangers can only lose it from here.”

    Well, in the end they did, losing the last match of the season to give Celtic an unexpected title.

    The key was that he quietly and cleverly took all the pressure off his own team and put it on the other guy.

    This is similar to what Schumacher and Eloff have done, giving the impression that they are almost nonchalant about how things will turn out.

    In Eloff’s case, it was just a bridge too far. Had one of the teams above slipped on the banana skin, I would have put money on the Lions taking the Cup.

    Very similar situation to the European Soccer champs of 92: Yugoslavia were thrown out of the tournament a week before it started and Denmark was called in to take their place. Players had to arrange flights from holidays on the other side of the world at short notice.

    What happened? Denmark went and won the tournament!

  14. Postie,

    I ask myself, if the post match interviewee says something along the lines of the player not being prepared, or too anxious, and particularly, we weren’t good enough then wouldn’t that raise even more of a negative aura around the player? Particulalry if they think that they have worked hard at getting themselves ready for the match.

    I just think that getting a team mentally prepared is a very fine line that needs to be worked. Let’s say that you have the whole team buying into the mental aspect and giving their all to achieveit but they still lose. The consequences for the rest of the season are huge?

  15. Posti

    your soccer examples are excellent.

    Yes I think every team wants to play in the semis and final – even the Lions.

    Loffie was clever – maybe too clever for his own good.

    The journalist picked up his ‘playing it down’ and twisted it the other way.
    That he somehow does not care enough.

    They used the ‘expectation game’ against him.

  16. This is the sort of answer I like from a losing captain:

    “We were not up to it at the breakdown today and all of our problems stemmed from that. But we’ve performed in this area in the past and we know what we need to do in training to get it right for next week’s match.”

    Identifies the specific issue immediately; gives a positive view on team’s ability; identifies what needs to be done and shows determination and common purpose to get it right; and looks forward, rather than backwards.

    You hear this kind of stuff from the NZ S14 captains when they lose, notably the Crusaders.

    All our guys do is give platitudes about “te veel foute”.

  17. George Gregan (earlier years) and Sean Fitzpatrick have always impressed me with their after match interviews.

    Mostly positive about both teams, win or lose. At the same time being frank with themselves about the reason for the loss.

  18. Ollie

    You are right in that the consequence may be huge. When the mental side is mostly rarara or ‘this next game’.

    When the mental side is viewed as a important PART of preparation and play we have balance.

    Getting fitter, stronger and tougher mentally ALWAYS will produce benefits.

    Mental training is not a one night thing before a game.

    Given the consequences of the mental aspect in sport – if a player/coach buys in OR NOT – nobody not even recreational players can ignor the huge benefits.

    Expectations play a tremendous part.

  19. Donner

    There are very few players how truely believes IN themseves.

    The biggest pity is that self-belief can be coached.

    Most coaches and players think it is something a players has – on the day or not. Marius Joubert being a sad example – being branded a confidence player

  20. It’s all about self-wareness, isn’t it? You need to be confident in your abilities, but also very aware of the things you need to do on the day to perform at your best.

    Once you do that, failure to perform on any day becomes an issue of specifics, rather than an interrogation of your self-worth.

  21. Ollie

    When we unpack expectations and look for those aspects that make the difference – the experts got the following.

    Think about an example where you had expectations and they were not met. Later you can use same process to think of an example where they have been met.

    The key beliefs in expectations are as follows.

    1. What do I believe about the outcome/result – How desirable is this?

    2. How confident are you about the specified actions that need to be taken to produce the result. Your plan of action?

    3. How appropriate – OK – is the actions/behaviours you need to take to be successfull?

    4. How capable do you believe yourself/team to be to produce the behaviours/actions required to complete the plan successfully?


  22. sorry – fingertrouble.

    5. Your sense of responsibility, self worth and permission you have in relation to the required behaviours and outcome.

    So you see – although we experience things to – go or not go – our way , we play a much bigger part in all of the results.

    There is so much richness inside the whole ‘expectation’ concept.

  23. Yes Donner

    Bob Skinstad was a great example of that – right on.

    well said – without self-awareness – you are reactive.

    Splitting confidence and self-worth/esteem is very important.

    Confidence has to do with – doing.
    Self-esteem has to do with – being.

    When you are successful in splitting this in a players mind – you as coach and the player himself – can look at his game extremely critical – totally pick it to pieces.

    And LEARN from the exercise.

    Feedback still is the breakfast of champions!!!

  24. Brand,

    I see what you are saying, that is why I say it is a fine line that has to walked. Remember the level that I am coaching at compared to the CC coahes. The expectations that are created must have some sort of scapegoat for when things do not go right.

    What I mean is that during the whole long term setting of expectations and build of stronger minds there must always be that aspect of things can go wrong and we might lose some matches built into the strategy. The players must realise that even though they give their 100% physically and mentally that they might not win the game and that it is important to have a reason for losing that is acceptable without breaking down the walls that have been built.

    At the level the team is taht I coach now it is easy to have that reason as they are just starting the journey of self belief. But for teams with a more dedicated it is a more delicate situation.

  25. Expectations ’cause’ our roller-coaster-lifes.

    Emotions results from expectations – how so?

    When I expect my wife to crap on my head – because I am blogging again – I take it in my stride. Yip that’s my girl, still the same. I am not knocked on my butt – I am OK.

    When I expect my wife to crap on my head blogging again – and she is interested and excited about the thread – I am all smiles. Ahhaaa my wife is sooo nice.

    When I expect her to be glad that I am blogging (could have been drinking) and she craps on me – I am shattered, not so?

    So if you imagine an old scale – the kind with the two cupps on chains opposite sides to a swivel point – can you see one? Well keeping this in mind – my emotional ‘reactions’ is as follows.

    I expect a certain action/event and it is ‘beter’ than my expectation – the weighting shift to positive – and I experience a positive emotion.

    I expect a certain action/event and it is ‘worse’ than my expectation – the weighting shifts to negative – and I experience a negative emotion.

  26. The Brand

    “I expect a certain action/event and it is ‘worse’ than my expectation – the weighting shifts to negative – and I experience a negative emotion. ”

    Is that what happened at Loftus last year? :grin::evil:

  27. Ollie

    Did you read the post on the 5 aspects / beliefs that ‘form’ an expectation?

    I use those 5 in a questionare to gauge possibility for success in a goal or team.

    The answers to those 5 aspects provide me with an insight into each players thinking and their beliefs regarding the goal and their view of successfull completion.

  28. Donner

    Spot on.

    The Bulls and their fans – after 3 years winning expected to make it 4. After all the are the best , are they not?

    The bulls could not change gears during the game – they only experience emotions – because the reality they engaged in, did not fit with their expectations, of before the game.

    A brilliant captain and team would have made the necessary assessment and changed their expectations immediately and got on with the job of winning the damm cup. Beter yet would have never got into the hole in the first place.

    That is why Michael Schumacher and Tiger Woods ae such brilliant examples.

    Most other sportsmen – fight against the “changing of the rules” “this is not how it is suppose to be” – rather than making ajustments and do the job ‘ruthless, cold and professional’

  29. Donner

    Last night I was close to trying it out.

    Been fore warning and thus preparing my wife for a moerse brannas on of these days.

    Still think – – see the expectation that I’m going to kak.

  30. De Wet Barry said at a Sharks game on TV after the game the exact same thing as in the post match media conference to the jounos.

    10 points for remembering his after match speech verbatim.

    But honestly, it wasn’t mind-blowing stuff.

  31. Ollie

    In your shoes – which I can only imagine – same as soooo many of us , I would take each of the 5 aspects and do senario planning arround them.

    get on paper the great – good – average – bad – worse senarios.
    Answer each of the 5 aspect’s questions and work out the plan of actions for each.

    Discuss the premutations with your team leaders and – there you go you beaut!!!

    Let me give an example:
    1. Outcome – want to enjoy season.
    2. Path – make practices and games enjoyable.
    3. Behaviour/actions – be nice to each other at all times – winning or losing.
    4. Plan – work on manners and smiles and high fives.
    5. Person – we want this to be fun and take everything in its stride.

    Now you agree with me, that winning at all cost is not part of the picture, don’t you?

    How would the answers to the 5 aspects be – if winning at all cost was the outcome?

    This is as simplistic as I can put it.

    On the other end of the scale we end with a detailed arch-folder dealing with every practice day. Detailed steps and stages – minute details I may add. Think, planning building a bridge or highrise building, get the idea behing that involved blueprint for success?

  32. HellBent

    In other words he did exactly as what was expected of himself.

    De Wet has never been one for too much thinking I think.

    I once heard him in an interview – after every question his first sound of reply was: ” Aaaaa jaaaa uhmmmmm … (then followed a very long pause)”.

    Eventually the interviewer directed all the questions to Jean De Villiers.

    My question is what are expected from the post match interviews – by the fans, TV viewers and the journos?

    That should be the first stop.
    Then prepare the players effectively to produce the goods – MARKETING. Be professional in all your doings in rugby – playing on the field is about 10% of ‘rugby’.

    I think Tony McK is cringing inside hearing this. And so should every Boss in Rugby.

    What do they expect the public to think of them, when they produce such brainless comments?

  33. Ollie

    Last week someone mentioned that the England Squad of 2003 had ‘leaders’ for every aspect of the game.

    For my money it should be the same for the Media.

    But imagine the captain who can ‘dance’ with the media. Waltz – Fox-trot – Ramba – Grinding :oops: in step, keeping pace, in rapport.

    Oh ja – I remember – Bobby.

    The media fell in love with him = Stormers got great coverage = non-rugby fans took note (read women folk) = Stormers Brand excelled.

    Professionalism – a rare commodity?

  34. Brand,

    Joost already gave the Mandela Cup to the Boks, imagine what he would do with trying to find the media captain

    More seriously, I would imagine that how the captain articulates himself at the post match interview would be very reflective of the way he thinks on the rugby field, which in turn reflects directly to how the coach gets the desired results from him.

  35. Interesting info I came across a while ago on our 2004 TriNations Success.

    The Bok’s Mind Coach – Henning Gericke, managed the Boks expectation in the following way.

    He had them look at videos from the ’81 Tour. They had a good discussion on all the circunstances those Boks had to endure for their country and pride.

    He said the footage of the ’81 Boks sleeping on cement floors under the stadium, the night before the Test – hit home hard.

    He then made comparisons to their luxurious circumstances when touring ‘Down-under’.

    All of this balanced the Bok’s expectations. They expected to receive nothing from NZ or the All Blacks and Aus for that matter. They were greatfull for every thing coming their way.

    The results spoke for themselves.

    So what changed?
    What was different in reality?
    How was the Boks treated differently?

    Everything stayed exactly the same.

    Except their expectations – and it made all the difference.

  36. Ollie,

    “very reflective of the way he thinks on the rugby field, which in turn reflects directly to how the coach gets the desired results from him. ”

    Are you sure you wanna go there with your favourite coach?

  37. Brand,

    You mention the Boks’s Mind Coach in a earlier posting, do you know if he is still part of the Bok setup?

    Does anybody know if the CC and Super 14 teams also have a mind coach and which school of thought they subscribe to?

    It would be interesting to get an idea of which team is coached in what way mentally and some to have some examples of what they get taught.

    I would imagine that a team that is working with a good mind coach, good rugby coach and somebody like Dr. Calderwell would be pretty effective.

  38. Brand,

    Now what emotion do you think John Smit experienced after the final whistle against Australia. Relieve that it wasn’t a 100 point snotting or satisfaction that they kept it below 50?

  39. Donner

    We commented on the smiles on their faces after the game.

    I thought that day it’s – ‘sheepish’.

    Still do think that way, they smiled to hide the emabarasment – making it worse for the fans.

    If they ‘felt kak’ enough and showed us they ‘felt kak’ I think most of us would have said – sjoe WE got klaped today. But then they tried to justify the lost.

    With the senario preparation I told Ollie about earlier – they would have ‘known’ how to respond.

    You really got me going again!!!

  40. Ollie

    Henning is a psychologist who ventured into sport psychology. He cut his teeth on school rugby and then at the Pumas.

    I had the pleasure to spend a couple of hours with him a couple of years ago, talking about sport psychology in rugby.

    He added to his psychology basket that which fitted from sport psychology and other sources.

    Derik Grobbelaar who captained the Pumas a couple of years ago when the hammered the Bulls every time that season, refered me to Henning.
    Derik that 2004 season said the reason the Boks are performing so well is directly related to Henning being involved in the setup.

    Henning was a Springbok middle distance runner in the same era as Deon Brummer and Johan Fourie. All that experience aids him well now.

  41. Ollie

    Most teams nowadays have Sport Psychologist involved.

    The Bulls use Jannie Putter as Sport Psychologist for all contracted players. He used to play hooker for Western Transvaal many seasons.

    The Sharks use Jennings – a Sport Psychologist, The brother (i think) of Ray Jennings – the Cricket coach.

  42. Ollie

    As far as I am aware it is only TG, Mike Cooper and myself who are involved in rugby – who share our ‘school of thought’.

    Our ‘school of thought’ ascribes to the STRUCTURE of subjective experience.

    Studying and modelling human excellence and reproducing such excellence in others who want that valuable resource.

    I am just fanatical about sport – any sport. So focusing on sport brings my passion, skills and fascination together. My job is my life and my life is my job. Same for ‘hobby’.

    Any sport – yes – even bowls, darts etc.

    I as a full blooded male draw the line at sit-down ‘sport’ though = chess, cards, dominos and such. :roll:

  43. Ollie

    I could not help myself but smiled, that after I had discussion with Henning Gericke – to notice he was only then called Mind Coach.

    Because I am not a psychologist, I made sure nobody thought such and called myself a Mind Coach over and over again.

    Henning like the term a lot – it is really what we do.

    We don’t help players to feel beter about themselves and restore their ‘egos’ to healthy levels.

    We coach their thinking and the processes they use mentally as well as the structures of their Inner World.

    I am not ‘nice’ when I work with players. Some time I am ‘hated’. The results in the long run – show my worth.

    I expect excellence from the players.

  44. Well Brand,
    i hate to break it to you,
    but we haven’t had excelence in sa players
    consistantly since teichmanns mob.

    Thus, nic’s doing.

    i suppose that right down to grass roots level,
    it means our coaching is shit.

    Whens the last time HM won a piece of
    silver that had the austalasians playing?

  45. Starting journey of fckn self belief?!
    Are you kidding?
    Get fckn on with the job.
    To the best of your ability.
    Like everyone.
    Fckn starting journey of earning your money more like.

  46. Fckn buzz word culture.
    When the chips fall down
    its not worth a shit.
    Do what you set out to do.
    No ifs buts and maybes.
    Get on with it.

  47. Work on manners,smile’s and high fives??
    holy mary mother of christ.

    What about spreading your khyber
    so that the other sides can fck us with
    minimum friction.