After a conversation with Paul McVeigh last week on the mental side of the game, I listened to a panel discussion on Sky Sports about whether or not Ravel Morrison had fulfilled his talent at Manchester United. He was a young player who was apparently head and shoulders better than his youth team teammates such as Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard. So why didn’t he make it at Old Trafford? Jamie Carragher said something that stood out for me: “There’s a big difference between a great talent and a great player” and then expanded on how the mental aspect of the game is not what separates good and great players, it’s a basic requirement to play at the professional level.
I decided to put this webinar together to not only draw some attention to the mental side of the game, but also to look a bit closer at what it means on a daily basis. I feel as coaches, we make two mistakes when it comes to the mental side. Firstly, we tend to over-generalize with our descriptions, using words such as “attitude” and “desire” that could cover a multitude of factors both in terms of personality and desire. Another aspect that we struggle with as coaches is our timing. We tend to pinpoint a player’s shortcomings on the psychological side when they are in the midst of adversity. In my opinion, not enough work is done on the mental side when things are going smoothly or the player is experiencing success. Because of this relationships and processes are not tested, and basic frameworks collapse under the pressure and emotion of setbacks that are part of the game.
I have put this together not to solve all the problems, but instead to drive a little awareness to players during this time away from their team, that they can start to work on building effective systems by themselves and alongside their coaches. I’ve shared some things that I have been working on in the reflection and review process at the professional level and I think this is a great conversation starter for any coach who wants to help players in this area. If you have any questions on how to improve this as a player or add this to your environment as a coach, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you and enjoy!
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