How All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster helped the Black Sox get from 'the red zone to the blue'
A tip or two from the All Blacks helped the Black Sox in their successful quest for a record seventh world men's softball title.
Black Sox coach Mark Sorenson said some advice from All Blacks assistant-coach Ian Foster had been drawn on during the world championships in Canada.
"We had Ian Foster come and talk to us at a team camp for a couple of hours a couple of months ago, and he was absolutely outstanding," Sorenson said after leading his team to a 6-4 grand final win over Australia on Monday (NZ Time).
"He talked about how you can either be in the red zone or the blue zone. The red zone's the emotional zone, when you're excited or angry ... it's not a high performance zone."
* Black Sox slugger 'never tried to hit a home run'
* Black Sox topple Australia for seventh world title
* Compain cracks grand slam to beat Canada
* Enokas star as Black Sox clinch medal
* Black Sox have shot at seventh world title
In the blue zone, athletes were calm and composed and ready to perform at optimum level, Sorenson said.
"He [Foster] talked about how to get into the blue zone and how to follow your processes."
Sorenson said the Black Sox players "went away and looked at their triggers that take you from the red zone to the blue".
"We referred to that numerous times during the tournament, about getting ourselves back into the blue."
Sorenson said what Foster was saying was not necessarily new, but it "came from a different voice" and had had a positive impact on the softballers.
He said the Black Sox valued the association with the All Blacks, a path facilitated by New Zealand Rugby high performance manager Don Tricker, who won two world softball titles as Black Sox coach.
Some sporting organisations might want to ask the Black Sox for their magic formula now after Sorenson's men produced two dramatic comebacks on their way to the gold medal in Whitehorse.
They beat Canada 12-11 on Sunday after trailing 9-2 to secure the all-important automatic pathway to the final.
The Black Sox lagged behind Australia 3-1 in the mid stages of Monday's gold medal game, but Sorenson drew his team together and told them "don't look at the scoreboard".
"When we fell behind, I thought we got a little bit up-tight and it reflected in our at-bats.
"Once we built a little pressure and got some quality at-bats, we created opportunities."
Sorenson said the Black Sox were unable to capitalise in the fifth inning, although they did reduce the deficit to 3-2.
Then in the sixth, with two batters out and bases loaded, "Joel Evans comes up with probably the biggest hit of his career".
The Black Sox's victory in Whitehorse was their first on Canadian soil after three silver medals - all at Saskatoon in 1988, 2009 and 2015.
Sorenson believed his side built a lot of goodwill at the 2017 tournament after staging a coaching clinic for the Turkey team after beating them 22-0 in the first round.
"After that, a lot of people jumped on board and started supporting us once the Canadians were out," Sorenson said.
The television commentators even noted the father of a Canadian player had taken off his Canadian jersey and put a black shirt on to back the Black Sox in the final.