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Why The Underdog Team Pulls Off The Upset

By: Brian Kim - March 16, 2007

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March Madness is upon us. For those readers outside the United States, here’s a really brief introduction as to what March Madness is.

Every year during the month of March, 64 college teams from around the nation compete in a do or die basketball tournament, meaning they must win every single game in order to advance to the championship game and obviously the team who wins the title is the one that wins ALL their games.

That means if a team loses ONCE, they’re out for the season. There are no championship series in March Madness. Every game is do or die, hence the term madness (and also because the entire nation tunes in to watch the games).

Upsets are pretty frequent during March Madness, meaning underdog teams are able to beat the ranked teams. And these types of upsets don’t just apply to sports. They apply to competition in any way, shape or form as well.

So what’s the reason for the upset? Why can the underdog team pull it off?

Obviously, there’s a ton of factors that go into that, but today I will cover only two.

The first is the foundational reason.

EVERYTHING lies on this foundation. Without this, an upset is impossible.

Here is that foundation.

The underdog team simply wants it more than the other team.

In other words, their desire to win is greater than that of the other team.

As simple as that?

As simple as that.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s a pretty simple reason. It sounds too easy of an explanation and I agree. It sure is. But because it’s so simple, a lot of people don’t give that reason a second thought. Their attention shifts elsewhere and other factors are given the credit.

For example, we hear winning teams after the game crediting their victory to great teamwork, tons of practice, visualization, developing a great game plan, eating right, having plenty of rest before the game, etc., but ALL these factors can be traced back to their burning desire to win. Because they had a burning desire to win, they were able to do all those things.

Now the team with the greater desire will go the extra inch on all those factors. They’ll strive to have greater teamwork. They’ll practice half an hour more everyday. They’ll visualize more effectively. They’ll study the other team more intently in an effort to devise a greater game plan. They’ll pay more attention to what they eat and they’ll pay more attention to when they sleep and ALL these extra inches, when added up, will give them the advantage over the other team. It’s because their desire was greater that they were able to go the extra inch on all these factors.

Again, the foundational reason why the underdog team pulls off the upset is simply because their desire to win is greater than that of the other team. Everything else is secondary.

I could’ve called the title of this article “Why The Underdog Can Pull Off The Big Upset”, but I purposely threw in the word “Team” in the final title to make my second point.

Team. In other words, nobody does it alone. Only when you’re speaking in this context does 1 + 1 defy all mathematical logic and equal 11. When you have a team, the potential for improvement, sharing of knowledge and resources, intangible things such as encouragement and feedback, all these factors come into play and you get a very unique synergy going on that brings everybody’s game up to an entirely different level.

Now obviously in March Madness, both teams are well, just that. Teams. But the team that functions better as a unit always has the edge.

You’ve seen it before. If there’s only one star player on the team that does all the work, the entire game is built around that one person. What happens if that person has a bad day or gets injured? Big problem. Teams should function as effectively as they can as a collective unit.

The team that frequently strives to achieve greater unity and synergy among themselves will always have the edge. They know the strengths and weaknesses and habits of their teammates. They can predict what they will do in this or that situation. With one look in their eyes, they can tell what they have planned. That kind of team unity is an extremely vital asset and because the underdog team’s desire to win is greater, they strive to work on perfecting that aspect.

How does all this apply to you?

If you want to achieve that goal, simply do what the underdogs do.

Want it more.

How you say?

Here’s a simple tip for the weekend: Use better language.

Don’t say “I’d like to _______________________”.

Say “I MUST __________________________”.

We always do what we MUST do don’t we? Pay the taxes, take the tests, make the money to buy the food. We do the things we MUST do.

And if you don’t yet have a “team” to help you achieve your goal, get one. But make EXTREMLY sure that ALL members of your team are after the same goal. If not, everything falls apart.

Want it more.

Get a team.

And if you already have one, strive to build it up.

Two ways that can help you pull off the upsets in life.

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3 Responses to “Why The Underdog Team Pulls Off The Upset”

  1. boy advanced advance » Why The Underdog Team Pulls Off The Upset Says:

    […] Original post by Brian Kim […]

  2. How to be an Original Says:

    The tyranny of “must” and how to avoid it

    Words (verbs actually) that I really dislike are “must” and “have to”. They are used in expressions of a compulsive nature. They are used to give commands; they express an absence of choice. A little while back I was reading

  3. The tyranny of “must” and how to avoid it — be an original Says:

    […] A little while back I was reading Brian Kim’s blog. I disagree with Brian Kim that MUST-phrases are “better language”, as he states in his post on underdog teams. He proposes to use I must instead of I’d like to, and although I agree that the phrase is an improvement, I must is still what I consider bad language. […]

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