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When training and developing in anything at all, one thing that is inevitable, that you will as some point make a mistake. This is a given, it will give you a chance to give up but more importantly than that it will give you a chance to learn.
As part of Johan Cryuff’s book “My Turn” he speaks fondly of his early days at Ajax;
“What I learned was that football is a process of making mistakes, then analysing them to learn lessons and not get frustrated.” (Cruyff, J. 2016)
This could be one of my favourite quotes in the book, it shows what I would recognise as bravery. He makes that mistake, his first step goes straight to analysis then to what you learn after this analysis. This control of your emotions to not let that anger or frustration in at a time of fragility when you are learning shows a mind set to grow. Cruyff did grow, as most in football know into one of the greatest minds of football in the history of the game.
When I think of my philosophy and what enables players to improve at a higher rate than others, I could put it down to bravery. This can be shown in many ways; reacting in a positive way to a mistake, trying new things that are intelligent even if they don’t work, trying to understand why you failed. In youth football I find myself reminding players that it is ok to make a mistake, this is important as you have to create that learning environment where it is ok to fail as long as we think about a solution.
When given the chance to train 1 on 1 you can really affect the mind-set of a player. I worked in particular with a talented 7 year old, a lot of what we did was technique focused, we worked for no longer than an hour with a couple of rests in that time to reflect on the practise. Rest times were mostly used to question and receive answers to problems that occurred during practise. I had intentionally made the practise increase in difficulty so we could experience some failures and try to show how we deal with them. Working for no longer than an hour was to allow the focus on the task and technique to stay high, I increased the playing time gradually to try to keep length of focus increasing. During this 1 to 1 training in the foundation phase I was careful with keeping it fun and not too regimented, our training was planned 90% and we worked on something specific that the player had enjoyed for the last 10% of the session, this was about giving some autonomy to the player and showing they were the most important person in their own development.
Having recently started the UEFA B Licence, my philosophy that I have been working on since my level 1 has been pushed to further detail. I know that this post will be a great reference to pick up on and develop my philosophy further. Working on the B licence has been eye opening in helping me to work with a team but tailor the session to all of my player’s needs. Difficult as it sounds your starting point is to understand your players and from that point you can put on a session and makes it relevant to everyone’s needs. It can be easier than you think though, it can be as simple as spending two minutes speaking to a player giving them a bit of individual feedback on the session or a simple drive by praise. It will differ from player to player and some will need more time than others, but it is up to us as coaches to know them and recognise that. It can take bravery from a player to let you in and trust you with their development. You will know you have a player with a mind-set to improve if they do let you in. This could be seen if they ask you for feedback or tell you something about their outside football life.
Mistakes must be made in our learning process, do not shy away from them and make excuses. Our first step to analysing them will be to recognise and admit them. From this point we can rectify and grow in our sport. This is being brave, this is my last pillar of learning this may be the hardest of the three but the most beneficial. Do you think Cruyff was scared of failing when he scored, “That Volley”? I don’t think so. Let that confidence and lack of fear seep into your everyday life.
Cruyff, J. 2016 My Turn The Autobiography. 1st Ed: MacMillan
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