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Understanding the complete player

This is an excerpt from Focused for Soccer - 2nd Edition by Bill Beswick.

To help coaches and players appreciate the need to place attitude training at the heart of their work, I have created a complete player profile. This emphasizes that players and their performances should be analyzed and assessed against six criteria. A well-thought-out training program for players must

  • present the players with a physical challenge,
  • develop technique by repetition,
  • ensure tactical preparation,
  • highlight the mental training taking place,
  • test emotional self-control under pressure, and
  • reflect lifestyle preparation and readiness to commit to soccer.

These are the developmental steps coaches and players should work on in order to move toward a more complete performance. However, the following points should be noted:

  • Complete performance is multifaceted; the player is dependent on all facets functioning together.
  • Complete performance is relative to the age and gender of the player. It is vital that youth coaches understand the development patterns of young boys or girls so that they appreciate, for example, the youngster who develops early or late, either physically or emotionally.
  • Complete performance is continually evolving. Ajax in Holland, one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world, rated young players with a system based on the acronym TIPS, which they used to evaluate technique, intelligence, personality, and speed. At a coaches' conference, the head coach for youth revealed that at 8 years of age, speed and technique accounted for 80 percent of the basis for selection. At 18 years of age, however, the intelligence and personality of the player accounted for 80 percent of the basis for selection. The profile of the complete player is continually evolving.
  • Performance problems can originate from any area. Players and coaches must look beyond physical and technical evaluation to assess underlying mental, emotional, and even lifestyle issues. Coaches must see the person as well as the performer and spot those early signs that indicate potential barriers to performance.
  • If coaches or players feel unable to undertake this analysis themselves, they should seek the help of experts. Players and coaches increasingly talk to sport scientists, and they may find themselves the center of a multiskilled support team, as illustrated in the example shown in figure 2.2.
  • Players will never have perfect profiles, so they must work with the coach and support team to recognize their unique style and learn to manage it to the best effect—playing to their strengths and containing their weaknesses.
  • The pursuit of complete performance will always be affected by the player's particular situation. When I have exhausted all methods to make a player happy and successful, I have to conclude that the player should seek a new club. Often the change itself can stimulate progress. When Jim Smith, the former manager of Derby County in the English Premier League, had difficulty with a couple of players who resisted change, I quoted some Ernest Hemingway to him. “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.” Jim got the message, a couple of players moved on, and we continued to introduce change to the club.

Read more from Focused for Soccer, Second Edition.

More Excerpts From Focused for Soccer 2nd Edition