Thursday, August 30, 2012

U17 - the importance of mental toughness

The most important part of the game for a player to manage is the 6" space between their ears.

Last night we had an implosion so severe I think the moon moved 10m closer to the Earth.

Our U17 boys had an interesting game.  By some crazy soccer we went down 3-0 by half-time.  Some joking and talking at half-time we agreed that it would be very cool when we come back to win 4-3.  What else could we do?  We had to let them vent for a few minutes and collect themselves.  The boys knew they were off their games and it was either going to get worse or better.  Simple.

This was a rare 7pm game and arrivals to the field were close to game time.  We used the first 15 minutes of the game as our warm-up :)

Our positioning was OK, we were just a half-second late to every ball.

Anyway, we started the second half with a goal that was called back 5 minutes in.  The boys started bickering a bit and the other team was being chirpy, getting under the skin of our boys.  We then scored 2 goals in 15 minutes and it looked like we were going to have an interesting finish.

A few questionable calls later and some well timed comments from their opponents sent our boys over the edge.  Our boys were so pre-occupied with the officials and the other team that they forgot to finish the job at hand.  Poor decisions on the ball, sloppy/lazy defending, desperation runs, excellent/excessive cheering from the other team's families and smart play by our opponents led to our downfall. 

We ended up losing 3-2.  The good news is that when the game was over our guys had the look on their faces that they knew what had happened ... they were hooked, played with, then reeled in.

I feel that no lesson would have been learned had they come back and won.  These boys will be fixing my brakes, filling my cavities and handling my finances some day.  They need lessons with respect to staying focused.

Staying focused not only keeps you on task and playing your game ... if you're opponent is trying to distract you, you might actually knock them off their game in frustration.

There are several key factors involved in helping you overcome distractions: 
  • mastery of fundamentals of your sport
  • deep knowledge of your job on the field
  • experience
  • confidence in yourself and trust in your teammates
  • high fitness level
  • using training to rehearse and learn from mistakes of previous games
  • controlled breathing
We need to build an appreciation for the focused athlete and stop glamourizing the outbursts and tantrums that we see on "Top 10" lists on sports newscast.

This is something that will have to be addressed next session as we have 2 games left and a first place finish still possible.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Niagara College Tryouts - Still going

Being a parent and former player directly affects how I run tryouts.

Our college tryouts have ballooned to an outrageous number.  I would have never guessed that 56 players would have come out for a shot.

As a former player, I remember what it was like going to Mohawk College by myself in August to tryout for Varsity Soccer, and how well I was treated.

As a parent, I always watched with interest with respect to how coaches carried out their tryouts by their own methods.  I also watched my sons' reactions after being selected or released.  I didn't always agree with how tryouts were conducted but I did respect the fact that the coach did what they felt was fair.

Right now, as I deal with young men coming to me from out of town, my own son is trying out for Varsity Lacrosse at the University of Guelph.  I am very interested to hear about his experiences over the week and see what I can integrate into my own methods.

Sometimes I hear parents complain about tryouts, fairness, timing, etc, ... and all I can think is "you have NO clue".  Every coach I know works to make sure tryouts are fair and respectful.  It may not appear that way and everybody has a different idea of fair, but the thought and will is there.

Right now we are at 30 players left of 56.  By next Tuesday I expect to be down to 22.  Some boys are dealing with the realization that they are not as good, fast and/or strong as they thought they were in high school.  Others are coming to tryouts while trying to settle into a new town and not knowing anybody.  This program is their first impression of Niagara College and I have to make sure it's professional and hospitable.

My goal for the players who do not get selected is that they have a better realization of what's required to play at this level and they learned something they can take back to their regular program.  I want those players to keep playing and hopefully want to coach one day.  To support LTPD, I have to present a situation that makes them want to be Active for Life.

This Thursday, we have a pre-season game at Seneca College then an Intra-squad game next Tuesday.  The team should be complete after Tuesday.