Olympics, Oxytocin and the Psychology of Team Sports Warfare

August 09, 2016

When it comes to team performance, testosterone may be the power force to winning but it is the oxytocin hormone which is the head coaches’ number two assistant. Let’s call this assistant Coach Oxytocin. Coach Oxytocin’s role is one of social coordination. His job, is first and foremost, is making sure that every member of the team is all in and fully committed to the head coach’s philosophy.

Coach oxytocin doesn’t run drills or teach tactics or skills, he is the “bucket filler” the positive energy guy who manages loyalty, respect, reliability, liability, duty, and the collective desire to be, not just on the team, but OF the team! There is no in-between with coach oxytocin. Oxytocin achieves this by drilling an “Us or them, kill or be killed,” philosophy into his player’s heads. But wait, how can the hormone of love and empathy also be the hormone of kill or be killed?

Several reasons actually. #1. Oxytocin cultures emotional contagion in groups such that they develop a singular identity. #2. Oxytocin engenders cooperation with the group. #3. Oxytocin engenders a laser focus on the enemy. #4. When challenged, oxytocin manipulates the part of the brain, the amygdala, that immediately lowers the stress hormone known as cortisol. #5. Oxytocin is a very fast acting analgesic or pain killer.

Put these physiognomies under the direction of a good army general and you can have an force second to none. That’s right, in any fight on the field; oxytocin will lowers the pain threshold, putting all players’ right up there in a league with women having babies. Now, I can think of a lot of painful things in my life and I think I would rather endure the pain of a broken leg before the pain of giving birth. I mean I had this big tough six foot four, 225 pound running back buddy that passed a kidney stone the size of half a biscuit and he screamed like a little girl. Can you imagine passing one the size of a football without an epidural? Face it guys, women are awesome. They have evolved over tens of thousands of years to take the pain. Hence their bodies make much more oxytocin then men’s. Women are oxytocin factories. They let down oxytocin at the drop of a hat. Ok, a designer hat. The first thing that happens when her pelvis begins to contract in preparation for parturition is a massive download of oxytocin throughout her body. Oxytocin is literally all over her, mitigating pain and making her fall in love with the source of this extraordinary agony.

Coach oxytocin is the arbiter of the clan, the team, the fraternity, the guild; the armies . . . Study after study examining teams from grammar school to the pros to the Olympics have confirmed that oxytocin is THE TTTa critical component of player cohesion.

Oxytocin puts the line in line up. Pick your passion, NFL, NBA, MLB: this hormone is the worst kept secret of the best executing coaches in the world. Coach oxytocin knows that what really matters is invisible and as all will see in Rio this August, the winningest teams will be held together for the fight by oxytocin.

I am going to walk out on a limb here and court controversy by suggesting that Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee president and the most powerful figure in the world of global sport, hold a press conference with the World Anti-Doping Agency, (WADA) suggesting that all teams allow their players an exception to imbibe Oxytocin Accelerator—on site.

What! Yes! Oxytocin for all! Put it in their water. Hand out little convenient oxytocin accelerator nasal spray bottles before practices and games. Seriously, two shots of oxytocin accelerator in everyone’s nose before every practice, and four shots before games, ok, maybe not before showers, that might inspire a little too much group love, if you know what I mean.