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Using a Mistake Ritual to Refocus; an NFL Example


It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, it doesn’t matter what happened in the season or what happened the last play, there’s always an opportunity to make the next play. You can’t let it affect you and I think that’s the great thing about this locker room that everybody has that mindset where yeah I made a mistake, but I’m going to be out there fighting.

- Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Adam Thielen

This past Sunday during the NFC Wild Card game, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen made a crucial mistake that resulted in a field goal for the New Orleans Saints.

In the first quarter of the Vikings vs. Saints game, Adam Thielen fumbled the ball on the Minnesota 37 yard line after a 3-yard reception. New Orleans took advantage of this mistake and turned it into a field goal.

Recovering from such a significant mistake in a big game can be tough, but Thielen knew exactly what to do: he implemented a "Mistake Ritual" called "the flush.”

A mistake ritual is a physical gesture or technique that helps athletes quickly acknowledge a mistake and move past it, allowing them to refocus on the most important play – the next one.

Courtney Cronin, Minnesota Vikings reporter for, goes into more detail about Thielen's process and his mental state during the game in this thread:

In PCA Workshops, we encourage parents, coaches and athletes to develop a mistake ritual. When a young athlete makes a mistake on the field or court, they often immediately look to their parent(s) or coach for their reaction. Seeing a physical motion like “brush it off,” “flush it” or “let it go,” will help athletes refocus on the next play. 

Already have a mistake ritual? Comment below with what you use, we’d love to hear!

To learn more about Mistake Rituals and their impact on an athlete's mindset, check out some of our resources below.

The Importance Of Developing A Mistake Ritual

Mistake Ritual In Action

Flush And Park Mistakes With A Mistake Ritual