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Did Rams start yet another trend after winning Super Bowl?

LA used positive psychology to perfection en route to winning Super Bowl LVI...will other NFL teams follow suit?

Super Bowl LVI - Head Coach & MVP Press Conference Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

Turf Show Family, we’re closing in on two months since the Los Angeles Rams won Super Bowl LVI over the Cincinnati Bengals. While the offseason is taking center stage and the NFL Draft following closely behind, there’s still plenty to celebrate about the defending champs.

LA has received praise for their “All-In” or “F Them Picks” approach, but lost in all of their aggressiveness is something else that helped win them the Lombardi. When fans and the media personalities tend to hear “positive psychology”, there’s usually some pretty negative connotations surrounding the phrase.

Leave that junk out of the game, no wonder the league’s gone soft.”

Being buddies with your players is a recipe for disaster.”

Nice guys finish have to be ruthless in the NFL.

Who says nice guys must always finish last? This approach, highlighted in an article by INC, clearly worked for the Rams as noted by retired offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth:

“I think this is a unique environment,” Whitworth said in a postgame interview via INC. “We’re relaxed. We have fun. It’s energetic. We don’t have coaches out there screaming at people. That’s not allowed on our field. It’s about having energy and positivity and belief that no matter what happens on one snap, the next snap’s the next best one you can have.”

Think about the stereotypical portrayals of football coaches that you’ve seen on TV shows and movies. Those coaches would nearly stroke out if a player made even the tiniest of mistakes. Sure this approach may have worked for the 85’ Bears, but why should a player have to live in fear of their head coach?

To me, a coach should be a teacher first and foremost. They should give constructive feedback and encouraging players by building them up rather than tearing them down. Players will make mistakes and miss assignments, that is part of what makes them human. Head Coach Sean McVay appears to understand this which is why Whitworth spoke so highly of the culture that had been created.

Positive psychology isn’t a new concept in sports and McVay is hardly the only coach to instill it into his program. In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors under Steve Kerr are known for having a relaxed and fun atmosphere where music, humor, and friendly competitions between coaches and players have created a positive culture. This has helped the team reach five-straight NBA Finals and win titles in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

It’s understandable that NFL teams would be hesitant to try something new like this as there’s still a stigma that positive psychology is only for the faint of heart. Clearly, it won’t work for everyone and established head coaches would be unwilling to fix something that isn’t broken.

However, no one can deny the impact positive psychology has had on Los Angeles since McVay arrived in 2017. He has shifted the Rams from being a yearly bottom feeder to one of the most winningest teams in the NFL.

Maybe nice guys don’t always finish last after all.