Oilers' 'secret weapon' George Mumford discloses team's biggest mental hurdle

2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Two
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Two

The Edmonton Oilers have called upon a secret weapon in their quest for the Stanley Cup - George Mumford - a renowned expert in sports psychology and performance. Mumford, affectionately known as "The Mindfulness Performance Whisperer," has a track record of success.

He played a crucial role in helping the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers win a combined eight championships, working closely with legendary figures like Phil Jackson, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Now, 72, Mumford finds himself decked out in Oilers blue and orange, thanks to a LinkedIn connection with CEO Jeff Jackson. His mission? To guide the team through its toughest mental challenge yet as they face a 2-0 deficit against the Florida Panthers in the playoffs.

When asked about the Oilers' biggest mental hurdle, Mumford didn't hesitate:

"Low self-image or lack of confidence" (via Sportsnet interview on Tuesday).

It may seem counterintuitive, as we often imagine professional athletes brimming with self-assurance. Mumford explained:

"We don't talk about it enough. There's a tremendous amount of anxiety. On one side of the coin is potential, freedom, talent. The other side of the coin is uncertainty, anxiety."

Players face constant pressures and doubts, worrying about their spot in the lineup or the possibility of injury. Mumford's approach focuses on mental discipline and self-awareness.

"If you're thinking a certain way, feeling a certain way, you have to own it. You're responsible for it. And then change it," he advises.

By tapping into their inner resources, athletes can transform anxiety, overcome fear and achieve success without becoming overconfident. Mumford also sees parallels between Oilers star Connor McDavid and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

"Yes, most definitely. He wouldn't be who he is if he didn't have that, if he didn't have commitment to excellence and being the most skilled player," Mumford observes.
“It's like M.J. M.J. got cut from his high school basketball team, and every time I saw him play, it seemed like he was trying to make the team. With Connor, I don't know what happened to him in the past, but there's something. There's a work ethic. There's a commitment to excellence that's there. And he's not by himself.”

However, success is a team effort, and Mumford recognizes the potential in players like Leon Draisaitl and others.

Oilers’ Connor McDavid on bringing in George Mumford

Connor McDavid after Game 2 discussed the Oilers' decision to bring in George Mumford.

"He was brought in for this reason, to help in these big moments. He’s done a great job of being there for guys, talking about the mindset in these pressure situations." McDavid said.

Edmonton's captain went on to praise his teammates' ability to perform under pressure, crediting Mumford for playing a major role.

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Edited by Bhargav
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