We’re always marvelling at footballers who are blessed with immense talent like Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo, and feel there’s no way we could achieve those levels of excellence. True, there may only ever be one Messi or Cristiano, but that doesn’t mean we, as coaches, parents and players, should settle for less.
Talent definitely helps, but as is widely documented, achieving excellence is a lot about discipline, dedication and persistence. In this pursuit, here are 10 tips, which if followed resolutely, can take all of us a very, very long way in life. And guess what? None of them need any ‘talent’!
1. Being On Time
As players, parents or coaches, there’s rarely ever an excuse for being late to training or games. It’s about managing our time smartly and prioritizing well. Not the hardest thing in the world!
Right, so this one requires a little more work – mostly at the mental level. It’s about laying it all out there and giving 100% every single time we’re on the pitch. Admittedly, it’s not easy to be in top form all the time (as a coach or player), but it shouldn’t be for a want of trying.
3. Work Ethic
Closely linked to point 2, work ethic and effort typically go hand-in-hand. Having a solid work ethic is about doing everything we can to perform at our best every time. It means eating right, getting enough rest and developing healthy habits that help us achieve our goals.
The best thing to wear to training and games is a smile and a can-do, positive attitude. Having a positive outlook usually results in higher proficiency and achievement. It’s important to always carry a healthy dose of self-belief and a never-say-die spirit, especially in sport.
An oft-abused and overused word, passion is simply about playing with heart. Authentic effort isn’t possible when there’s no passion. There has to be love for the game and a commitment to the team or academy that we train with. Without passion, it becomes difficult to see out the inevitable challenges that we will be faced with along the way. Have you read Kobe Bryant’s Dear Basketball yet? That’s passion for ya!
Energy is mostly a function of the attitude and passion we bring to training – those are the two key contributors in developing good, positive energy. Best of all, it is infectious. When we take good energy to training, it rubs off on others and inspires them to raise their standards too. Imagine if the whole squad turned up with that energy? Powerful!
7. Body Language
Sloppy folks seldom move forward in life. To excel, it’s critical to remain aware and maintain good posture, especially at training. Share a genuine smile with fellow players and coaches, greet them, have a bit of fun every day, walk erect and make eye contact when speaking. Be confident and don’t shy away from making mistakes. We all make them – it’s part of the learning process.
8. Being Prepared
Good preparation, in anything pretty much, is half the battle won. When it comes to training, for coaches it’s about having your session plans in place well in advance and mentally running through every step of the session. For players, it’s about keeping kits ready, the boots cleaned and mentally being up for the rough and tumble of a good game of football.
9. Willing to Learn
Having an open mind and being willing to listen and learn are key determinants for success – as a coach, parent or footballer. When combined with a genuine, burning desire to improve, the outcomes can be amazing. For footballers, after every training or game, it’s important to think about what we learned from the day’s session, what can be done better, what mistakes we can avoid next time… the same applies to coaches and parents.
10. Going the Extra Mile
Yup, here’s where it’s always lonely. It’s when you spend those hours by yourself beating your own juggling records, perfecting your chip, doing that bit of additional research to add more substance to the training session… it’s where champions are made.
As you can see, talent can take you far, but if we truly ingrain even 2 or 3 of these tips into our lives, it’s likely that we could achieve a lot more. Stay inspired!