A blueprint for success
To get to any destination worth reaching, you need a road map. A winning team mindset begins when all members of the team agree to be led in the same direction. You have to inspire and unify a group of players and teach them the power of team-work. You need to take the group from ME to WE. You want the team to enjoy the game, be respectful, work hard, be unselfish and understand the power of team. My players understand my philosophy, ‘Better people make better players.’ You want a team that play with no fear and understand that there will be road blocks along the route to success. There will be tough times ahead. You embrace these tough times and take the opportunity to learn from them. You cannot improve without having some disappointments. Any player or coach that attempts to disrupt your plan should no longer be on the team.
You should have a family culture, where the players and staff respect each other and enjoy each other's company and anyone not buying into the “all together” philosophy will not be on the team. You will develop the character of the players off the pitch, so that they perform better on it.
Principles of a philosophy are:
• All together - Building positive attitudes
• Every player must be in good physical condition
• Prepare the team technically, tactically, mentally and emotionally
• If we want to learn, always compete
• Make sure we improve at what we do
• We are humble and value humility. Handle victory or defeat equally well
• We select character over talent
• We focus on the performance
• Quality practice sessions that teach the philosophy
You must compete. This is not about beating the opponent. It is about personal competition with yourself. It is about doing your best and striving to reach your potential. Competition has to be at the heart of everything you do. Have a statement; “Be the best we can be and make sure we improve.” Competition is the engine room in a philosophy. If you are constantly doing your best then the lessons learned from succeeding and failures are more realistic. This will give you a true evaluation when figuring out how to embrace or solve these situations. You learn even more from the disappointments and make it work in your favor.
Your practice sessions are the cornerstone of your coaching environment. Practice sessions set the tone for the whole program. Your practice sessions will involve lots of learning through trial and error so you accept that mistakes will happen. This will not only be at practice, mistakes will also happen on game day. What happens after the mistake is important. You develop intelligent players that make things happen. Most of your learning will be done on the practice field and then confirmed in the games so intelligent play in the games must be rehearsed on the practice field. Your players will get excited about game day. You will look forward to putting your philosophy to the test. What is the point of playing soccer if game day is not the best day of the week?
The DNA of a soccer player:
• Ability to perform and thrive under pressure
• Constant belief in themselves and their team
• Disciplined to remain focused despite distractions
• Ability to handle success or failure and remain committed to a program of excellence.
You need to have your attacking and defending principles explained to the team. You may even have explanations for the role of each player. Here is an example for a Goal-Keeper:
•Is the opposition ‘out of balance’ to start a quick attack?
•Look for the dangers before you execute the throw or kick.
•Good decision making.
•Always be in a position to receive a back pass.
•Get in a good position when your team is in the opposition half. Do not switch off.
•Be aware of your positioning.
•Organize your team and look for dangers that could occur.
•Decision making: When to catch, deflect or punch the ball.
•Communicate clearly to your team mates with calls of: Keepers! Time! Away! Get goal side! Man on!
• Organize your wall quickly and clearly.
• Try to get into a position where you have a good view of the ball.
• Be ready to react to a shot or a ball coming in behind the defense.
•Stay focused and make sure the guys on defense are not day dreaming.
•Help to organize your defense.
•Be ready to catch or punch the ball at his highest point possible.
•A call of KEEPERS! Or AWAY!
•Get your defense to push out when the ball is safe.
•Place suitable defenders on each post.
•Be positioned on the edge of your penalty area and stay focused.
•Make sure the players on defense are focused.
The best system is the one that suits your team
Your philosophy should work with any system. The system will not win games. A system of play is designed to help our team have success, confuse the opposition and exploit their weaknesses. Your players desire and ability to work together will win the games.
Everything covered in your blueprint can be adapted to the three systems below. If the key ingredients of your philosophy are missing then none of the systems below will work.