It’s an easy confusion to make. The England National team fail to win a game at the World Cup, meaning that they are in disarray. They have no hope, right? I’m not so sure. Have a read of the article below – it’s one of many things that are quietly taking them in the right direction.
Please have a read of this article on the BBC Sports website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29138379
In it Wayne Rooney describes how the England team players are holding their own meetings. They are taking the time to get together and go through videos of past games and videos of their opposition.
Interesting because it demonstrates a new mentality amongst elite competitors who are notorious for not bothering to try new things. This isn’t an insult – I have worked with hundreds of professional footballers and I count many of them as personal friends. Most want nothing more to be the very best they can be – the challenge they have is very few club and national team cultures allow them to explore such an elixir!
The article smacks of the influence of team psychiatrist Dr. Steve Peters. I’m very slowly becoming a bigger and bigger fan of his interventions (but don’t talk to me about any Chimp Management team…or my ‘Chimp’ will likely come out!)
Roy Hodgson has opened his mind or is having his mind opened by a new, improved FA National team culture. In has come Dave Reddin as Head of Performance Services and thus in has come state of the art sport science support.
In has come Dr Steve Peters and so in has come individual psychological support for players and, even more crucially, someone who can question the actions that the coaching staff are taking.
It wouldn’t surprise me if one of the chats Dr Peters has had with Wayne Rooney has brought to light this concept of player meetings and player only sessions in front of the video. It’s a great idea and, as Rooney espouses, the players who would never speak with the coaches in the room are finally ‘piping up.’
My reaction to England’s World Cup campaign was different to many. And my thoughts stem from a system I have that I call PPO – Process, Performance, Outcome
England’s outcome was poor. 2 losses and a draw. But, as a coach, you have to put that aside. It doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom. Outcome isn’t always controllable. You have to look at the….
England’s performances were far from amazing…but there were promising signs. Greater freedom, better possession and quicker movement of the ball. I’m going to stop there because I’m not a football coach…but as a football psychologist I felt the team performed better. So let’s look at the….They were with great freedom and with greater confidence. They were let down by their focus now and again – and these small details in mindset made a difference. Which leads us onto….
There was more confidence. They were just let down by their focus at times. The processes are what underpin the performance. Each player will have a process – the responsibilities within their role – the mental side of the game, the tactical and the physical.
As a sport psychologist I can only speak from a mental point of view and I felt England were freer and more confident. I felt they looked like they weren’t so scared to play, to move, to run, to make space and to take risk. It wasn’t perfect but it was better….
And that is where I think it is going. Yes we need to produce more players for the national team but at the moment I thin the FA can be applauded for doing some industrious things at First Team level. The culture of the National team may well be changing. They may well be starting to play with fun, freedom and focus.