I fear for the mentality of many female footy players.
One of, several current coaching mentors of mine these days, Brendan Quarry who I work daily with, says it straight up and all the time.
Fear is the number one killer of development on the female side of the game.
Brendan has been coaching female soccer for a decade and a half. So usually I take his point of view as almost an end in itself, so to speak.
But it’s so true. Fear kills. Fear completely and utterly destroys development. And, guess what? It happens for many players each and every game.
Games are important. They are the chance to turn techniques into what I would call “true skill.” This is ultimately what requires bravery. Players need to be brave enough to attempt these skills in games and accept the inevitable failure that accompanies that process. As coaches, it’s vital that we support and encourage that process.
As a player, you have to be brave. You have to have no fear. You have to enjoy the challenge.
Fear can affect males as well, but generally speaking on the male side they tend to enjoy the challenging aspects of sport. Females tend to shut down and fear takes over.
I’m learning that loads of soccer players on the female side really struggle with a proper mindset.
That whistle blows, parents are watching, and often players get that look in their eyes. That fear burns through for everyone to see. It’s painstakingly obvious to see as a teacher of my students.
When fear kicks in development goes out the proverbial window. I can’t fix fear as a coach. You can’t coach a player who is afraid.
So what do you do? How can we bridge this gap? I talk sport psychology with them, that’s my chance to pretend I’m really really smart 🙂 I continue to build a supportive culture that preaches learning in a safe environment, where failing to be brave is the only real fail – development first – results second. Sure results matter, but it’s about learning the process.
Don’t get me wrong I love winning, it’s probably the best thing ever for me to experience, I’m very competitive. But when that goalie is so small and that net looks just so so massive, goals don’t really do it for me these days. Once in awhile you see a nice one. But let’s call a spade a spade, most goals scored at younger ages are terrible. Dreadful really. Most I don’t actually count.
Parents stand up and make noise after goals but that’s because they typically don’t understand what to look for from a development stance. So parents default to that one tangible metric. The scoreboard. But for the sake of this argument that can be saved for another blog. Another time.
Don’t get me wrong my team wins games, but they should and would win way more if fear wasn’t hanging it’s ugly head around.
I’ve been exploring the idea of rewarding the girls with charity cash towards the cause they care about when they are simply being brave on the pitch and not playing with fear. Reward your team for being brave and when they attempt to turn all that hard work learning technique into skill. Rewards for swagger work well too.
Players who play without fear develop twice as fast as the ones who are fearful. – Suggests Brendan
Rewards for bravery, swagger, and not being fearless is my suggestion to all you coaches. Give it a go. It works. We’d love for you to Join the Play Better movement or simply just reach out to me and we’ll set up time for a chat.
I’m here to support you in any manner to make your coaching days easier. You’re not alone in this whole coaching business that is seeming to take up far more of your time then you anticipated 🙂
We also have a full Play Better tool kit once you get signed up for added value. The Play Better tool kit will set you up for success. Trust me you’ll like it.