I’m learning more and more about this concept from coaching. It’s funny how our brains work but I can’t stress how much I’ve learned from coaching youth soccer. Not just about the game, but about business and life. It’s a daily lesson in human psychology. Hats off to all the youth sports coaches out there – if you can build a team the right way you’re doing some cool things. And the psychology piece is the biggest variable, I believe.
Over last two weeks, I’ve been tinkering with our training sessions. Instead of working mostly on technique or even playing to goals, we’ve spent a lot of time simply playing keep away with two teams. 5 passes in a row is a point and the other team has to do push-ups (yes, it’s competitive). Here’s the catch – we always restrict the touches when we do this. Either two or three touches max. If you go over, possession goes to the other team.
Most of the kids don’t like it so far but they are coming along. I even had one kid tell me how it made no sense because “you don’t have restrictions in the game”. Ha. Exactly. That’s why we’re doing it, I told him.
You see, the faster we think in practice, the slower the game becomes. The more we get comfortable being uncomfortable in practice, the better we will play in games.
I see them improving each practice. In our game yesterday I even scrapped the traditional warm up. No more shooting with no defenders…we just did his possession drill. Trying to make it more game-like.
The result? We won 5-0. I really don’t care about the score but we absolutely imposed our will on this team. And guess what – we lost to these guys 3 weeks ago and narrowly beat them last month. Wasn’t even close this time. The difference? I believe the game is slowing down for us. Why? Because we are practicing at a high level and forcing the issue.
Look, I’m not naive. I realize we will continue to struggle at times. That’s part of growing…but I’m encouraged. These kids are a challenge at times. Some of my guys can’t seem to grasp the concept of effort and pushing themselves. They’re getting better but it’s a constant push.
I’m reminded about all the teams I’ve been on…in sports, in business…and in life.
It doesn’t happen overnight. We need to focus on incremental improvements on a daily basis. Get a just a little bit better each day. Just a little bit. And, over time, you should have some good things happen.
So, my advice to you (and to me) – keep getting uncomfortable. That’s where real growth happens.
Here’s a video with some similar thoughts as well: