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Lack of Sibling Rivalry, Focus and Self-Efficacy
I have just returned from following the Scottish Football Women’s team around Holland as they competed at UEFA European Championships finals. I am immensely proud of the Scotland team, they have worked so hard and despite a difficult start against England and Portugal they delivered a superb performance to beat a strong Spanish team. My biggest achievement in sport is by association now as my sister plays in the Scottish Women’s team and has done for almost 90 appearances! This makes me lucky as a coach as I have seen first-hand the progress from grassroots to established international and the many 6:30am starts, personal discipline and focus it takes to get there. Having trained my sister 1 to 1 I can see the reason that she has developed and understood the game so well. One thing you will notice is the complete concentration on the task and understanding how to carry it out in the most efficient way. This carries into her game, she plays as a right back and her attention is very sharp. She plays strong and aggressively but with the smarts to out think her opponent on most occasions.
This has made me want to explore player development and the reasons that players can train just as many hours but get differing results. This is a difficult thing to quantify within football as there is many extenuating circumstances that makes it hard to measure this, whether it is different training techniques, differing understanding of the techniques you are trying to learn, differing physical and psychological strengths. One thing that needs to be right for sure is the way you focus whilst training. I like the feeling of having focused, I say it in past tense as if you stop to think what it feels like it slips away like sand through your fingers. These moments of working in perfect concentration and harmony with the outcome you are going towards is something that has not only a benefit on your physical performance but a superb effect on your physiological state.
As a new coach and a former player I understand the need to continually develop yourself. To develop yourself efficiently and effectively you need to be fully focused on the task that you are performing. You need to have the outcome very clear in your mind. I find myself going through waves of motivation but when I know what it is I want to do, my ability to maintain focus for long periods of time can be great.
However, this is something that is developed over time just like training anything else. At this moment my motivation is to develop my coaching career and I can remain focused when reading articles or watching videos of coaching practises. Previously my motivation was running, it is a fantastic way of developing long levels of focus. When I was running 10km, 20km and half marathons you have a long period of time to remain focused when your body is under a degree of physical stress. I started running to keep a level of fitness when I was recovering from a footballing injury. Over a period of two years I started to get to a stage of looking at my times and starting to analyse how I can improve. My running started my realisation of focus, I could go out into the Pentland hills on the outskirts of Edinburgh and run round the hills for miles and miles. This was a great release of my energy, I entered a couple of half marathons and this gave me a goal. In hindsight, I was focused for the whole run whether it was a half hour run or a 2 hour run. I was obsessed with the times for each kilometre, I knew how fast I needed to do each kilometre to beat my target time. I was aware enough to get some good speed in at the start of the run to go a couple of seconds under the target time so if I was having a difficult day later in the run this would make up for any lost seconds.
Let’s bring this back to football and what role focus plays in development. I have been lucky enough to be working with young footballers this summer who are as young as 7 years old but understand this request, “calm down, take a minute, let’s focus on this now”. It is amazing to see the change in a player when given this little bit of space and time before starting a drill in isolation. When I ask this I mean for the player to visualise what the outcome of the task would be in a perfect way and see themselves doing this. This is focus in a snapshot of a particular training session. My role in this is to start to improve how long periods of focus players can keep up. In isolated training it is very easy to see when focus drops, passes are lazier shots are not as accurate, footwork relaxes. My goal is to help young players extend their own ability to focus on a task and concentrate for every movement and action they do, just like my sister did against Spain in the UEFA European Championships 2017.
Having started working on a blog post about focus, I started to look into sports psychology, as at source, that is what it is. This has opened a new world to my coaching with a basic understanding of psychology. I want to support my players, this has become a main goal for the year to develop.
After a conversation with a friend and colleague, I have been inspired to work closely with the term “Self-Efficacy”. This is, the belief in one’s self to achieve goals and complete specific tasks in a particular context. The term Self Efficacy jumped out to me as a huge opportunity to research and understand how to develop this in young people not only for football technique and skills reasons but for life-long learning. I see this as a huge responsibility for youth coaches to develop confidence in a society and world that finds a natural way to knock confidence no matter what age you are. Self-Efficacy can be improved and developed with a focused attitude towards tasks, this will then in turn breed confidence to believe in yourself to complete tougher techniques effectively.
I have got an appetite for self-efficacy now and will follow up on the blog with a post on this alone but for now I want to complete my third pillar of my own coaching philosophy.
Thanks for reading.
Next up, being brave in training.
If you enjoyed this you can find all my other ConnectedCoaches blogs here.
Excellent read JakeI'm currently taking the next step into athlete development in athletics to become a event specific coach a long haul if you don't have much time and your attentions span for reading isn't very good. When I first starting out as an athletics coach I attended a 2 day coaches level 1 athletics course where I met some great coaches but one coach in-particular I was intrigued who I worked with for the 2 days, when we got talking about what we coached and what age group I was shocked to find the coach was actually a football coach. I asked " why did you want to become a athletics coach" he replied " Because I want to develop my athletes in football sessions with running, Speed work, jumping skills and athletics seems to be a great sport to learn from" for me this was very interesting, it wasn't until a few months ago when I started helping out at a local football team coaching junior athletes how athletics crosses over with many football skills, I'm not yet a football I'm just helping out using athletics and multi skills with the young athlete in hope that some of this skills I coach will help the athletes when they move to the next group. I have been asked if I would like to take the level 1 football coaching but unsure if I want to take the plunge into a football qualification.
I think you are very valuable with the attitude you have to development for this football team. It is an interesting topic as we football coaches can spend a lot of time looking at technique and tactics that things like efficient running style can take a back seat. Your level one is a very simple qualification, it will focus on mostly how you interact to foster a learning environment rather than giving you depth in football knowledge. Mostly the support you give to players is more important to the detail of tactics at this stage. I would recommend going for it it will reinforce your understanding of how you support young players and some ideas on how to intervene to coach. Sorry i have taken a long time to reply on this, i actually missed your comment on my notifications. Thanks for reading! I am really happy you feel that you can be open with your thoughts, which in turn makes me even more certain in the benefit of having you working with footballers for their development.
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