BC152. Steven Terrell – You Shouldn’t Have to Coach Effort

Brian sits down with former Texas A&M Aggie and current NFL player Steven Terrell to talk about a multitude of topics including: belief, leadership, effort, competitive drive, and the mental game.


You will learn…

  • Strategies to apply visualization at the high school level.
  • How effort trumps talent.
  • Why leadership is so important.


Follow Steven on Twitter @SdotTerrell




Effort is everything.  Especially at this level there’s not really room to not have it.


Cain:  Hey, how are you doing?  Brian Cain, your Peak Performance Coach, here with the Peak Performance Podcast.  Today our guest is Steven Terrell.  He’s a 2008 graduate of Allen High School in Texas, where he helped lead the Eagles to a 5A Division 1 Football State Championship.  Terrell would continue his football career at Texas A&M University.  He was a four-year letter winner while seeing action in 52 games during his college career.  Terrell led both on and off field, receiving honors such as a First-Team Academic All-Big 12 and First-Team Academic All-Southeastern Conference.


Steven also served as a team captain during his senior campaign.  Terrell then signed in 2013 as an undrafted free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars and would spend time with the Houston Texans before landing on the roster of the Seattle Seahawks before the 2014 season.  Please welcome to the Peak Performance Podcast, Steven Terrell.  Steven, thanks for being with us.


Terrell:  Thanks for having me.


Cain:  If you would, could you talk a little bit about your experience growing up in Allen and going through with the Performance Course.


Terrell:  Performance Course was just something that one of the coaches had brought to my attention when I was in middle school.  They just told me, “You need to get into this – it will keep you in shape for the off-season.”  I begged my parents to do it and when I signed up, it was actually more than I expected.  It’s something I continued to do every year, middle school all the way up to high school.  It was just a great team environment to work around.


When you get to the level that I play, you just realize that you need to grind and work and go through tough situations with your team to build that chemistry and just to see the limits you can go with each other.  It’s great to work hard and have your teammates around you.  Performance Course is a great thing for me just because it taught me all the core values of being an athlete, and it also just helped you be with your friends in working hard and trying to achieve a goal no matter what sport it was.


Cain:  Steven, how important has belief and confidence been in your success as a football player?


Terrell:  Oh, it’s been very important.  Belief.  First you have to believe in yourself.  You’re going to have coaches and people believing in you, but that only goes as far as you believing in yourself and having that confidence to be able to come back through adversity.  Everything is not going to go your way.  You’re going to have a lot of setbacks.  I had a lot of setbacks in my career.  But it’s not the bad things; it’s how you respond to those things.  You have to be positive and have that strong mindset of belief in yourself and confidence that you can achieve whatever you put your mind to.


Cain:  With the great programs you’ve been a part of – Texas A&M, the Jaguars, the Texans, and now the Seahawks – talk a little bit about the importance of leadership in terms of success in athletics.


Terrell:  Leadership is another one of those things that is just very important.  All of the good teams have great leadership.  You’re not going to find many bad teams that have leadership.  The thing about leadership is you have to be willing to do the unpopular thing.  You have to be able to maybe call some people out that aren’t working hard or just do the uncommon thing and work a little bit extra than everybody else.  But you have to have that leadership.  You have to have somebody on each team and each program to kind of lead the way and set the tone for the rest of the guys.  It doesn’t have to just be one person either.  There is not an age limit or year qualification to be a leader.  You just have to have that one person or a group of people that can set the tone for the rest of the team and give examples for younger people to follow.


Cain:  What about effort?  You’ve been playing in the NFL now and played college football at the highest level.  Do you see guys that get by just on talent or does it take extreme effort to be successful at that highest level as well?


Terrell:  Effort is everything.  Especially at this level there’s not room to not have it with the talent level being so high.  It’s one of those things growing up in Allen I’ve always heard:  “You should never have to be coached on effort.”  Effort is something that it should be there.  You shouldn’t have to have coaches telling you your effort isn’t good enough.  For me, after being coached a few times and having different obstacles, just the opportunity to play the game should take care of your effort right there.  It’s such a great opportunity to play any sport and for you to not have good effort, it’s just kind of unacceptable.


Effort is just one of those things that it should just shine.  It should show.  It should stick out on tape or on the court.  It should always stick out.  That’s just something that you shouldn’t have to be coached on.  Effort is something that it just kind of goes along with desire and just willing to be out there.


Cain:  Pete Carroll (obviously who you played for), in his book Win Forever he talks a lot about the importance of competing in everything you do.  Where does your competitive drive come from?


Terrell:  For me it’s just like I said – the opportunity to play.  The best thing about the game is the opportunity to play.  With that just comes competitiveness.  It’s just something that ever since I’ve been young I’ve been wanting to compete in everything I do.  I just want to be good at everything, whether it’s in school – I competed in school, I competed in just kind of everything.  It’s just something that you have to have within you and it has to be something kind of external that drives you.  For me it was just being successful and just trying to do whatever I could to help my family out.  For me the best route to do that was football.


So with Pete, he takes on that theme of you’re competing or you’re not.  Here we competed with everything.  Even we’ll joke around and have little basketball games and stuff like that.  Little games that keep it fun but at the same time we’re still competing.  It’s just something that you always have, that competitive nature.  It’s not something that you can switch on/switch off.  It’s just no matter what you’re doing you’re competing.  You’re trying to get better.  That’s the biggest thing.


Cain:  Can you talk a little bit about the importance of the mental game when it comes down to football and some of the ways that maybe in Seattle you guys practice the mental game?  I think you have a couple of sports psychologists, Michael Gervais and a couple other guys, that work with you.  What are some of the things that you do at the highest level of the NFL now related to the mental game that maybe you didn’t even know existed when you were at Allen?  Or maybe you did mental imagery but didn’t know it was a mental game skill.


Terrell:  Oh yeah, absolutely.  We have some very mental coaches.  The biggest thing that I’ve learned from Seattle was just the positivity in everything that we do.  We really focus on being positive and having a positive environment and a good environment to where you can just be yourself.  The coaches don’t really want you be a certain way, a specific way; they just want you to be the best you.  The way to get the best you is just being positive in everything you do.  It sounds pretty simple – “oh, just be positive” – but when you really think about it, it’s kind of hard when something goes wrong just look at the positive aspect of everything.


We really train ourselves to always focus on the positive aspects and just to visualize success.  It seems very simple but when you visualize what you’re going to do and then you can go out there and do it, it’s what makes you great.  Just positive mental imagery (like we said) and just going out there and just being able to bounce back when things go wrong.  As a DB you’re going to get beat every once in a while, but it’s how you can respond to that and have that attitude of “Okay, you beat me once but you’re not going to beat me again” and things like that.


Cain:  Did you use visualization when you were in high school or at Texas A&M, or is that something you picked up with the Seahawks?


Terrell:  I kind of picked up the most positivity stuff from the Seahawks but in high school I did try to visualize things.  I would try to watch like highlight games just to focus on players and try to hear their mindset, like “This is what I’m going to do.”  During the week I would always have a play or a certain situation that I knew the other team was going to run, and try to be like “Alright, this is what’s going to happen on this play; I’m going to get an interception here, make a big hit here” – things like that.  Just trying to find situations to make positive reinforcement.


Cain:  Steven, last question for you here, my friend.  I appreciate you taking the time here out of your busy schedule.  If you could go back and talk to the Steven Terrell who was in middle school or who was in high school who was getting ready to go into the Performance Course, if you could go back and say “This is what I know now being in the NFL that I wish I knew back then” – or even if it’s non-football related, “This is what I know now as a professional athlete at the highest level of what I do, one of the best in the world, this is what I would tell the junior high or high school kid about the importance of the pursuit of success and what you need to do” – what’s the one seed if you could remove that skullcap and plant it in there and it would germinate in those guys and girls, what would it be?


Terrell:  I would just tell myself that it’s going to be worth it.  All your hard work is going to pay off and that you can do it.  I didn’t know in middle school and high school really that I would be able to make it to the NFL.  I really had no clue.  I didn’t have anybody tell me that it was possible.  For me, I would just tell myself it’s going to be worth it; your hard work is going to pay off.


Another thing I would have told myself in middle school:  to play more than one sport and to not just focus on one thing.  What I’ve seen in the NFL is there are a lot of guys that play multiple sports.  For me, I really just did track and football.  I feel like that would have enhanced my game a little bit more, just having a wide variety of how to play basketball and just trying out other things when I was younger.  But the biggest thing is just knowing that there is a chance.  You’re going to be able to do this and it’s going to be worth it.  I feel like if kids just have that mindset that this is going to pay off one day in a positive way, they would work harder.


Cain:  Steven Terrell, thank you for taking the time.  For our listeners, if you want to get yourself some more Steven, you can check him out on Twitter @SdotTerrell and on Instagram @young_Terrell21.  Steven, thank you for taking the time.  Much appreciated.


Terrell:  Thank you for having me.



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