A run of poor results at the start of the season can really knock a team’s confidence. Sport psychologist Dan Abrahams offers grassroots coaches four tips to help their teams get over a rocky opening to the campaign MORE
Get the small details right
When the fixtures for the new season are posted, I always take great delight in seeing who I am pitting my wits against in the early weeks. It’s the thrill of finding out when you are going to play your big rivals and the big guns of the league.
I get the same feeling when I look at the main fixtures for teams in the top leagues around the world. When is Chelsea going to play United or Real Madrid take on Barcelona? I’m sure the managers of those teams get excited when they find out the dates too. The coaches have to prepare for those early games by playing matches and running training sessions specifically to cover the unknown factors involved. And this is where a good coach comes in.
Often a big game will turn on the smallest detail – something you have worked on with your team in training, like a different way of taking a corner, or you have coached your players a new skill that one of them tries out in a match and it works.
Getting that first win under your belt can be down to the smallest detail that you have worked on – if it produces a 1-0 victory in a match of few chances, then the hard work was worth it. In the professional game you often see teams cancelling each other out before a free kick sails into the net to clinch the tie and that can be down to a player putting in an extra hour on the training ground.
So that means you need to start thinking about the small details that can make a difference in a tight game and put them into practice. It’s no good thinking everything will sort itself out on the day and the players will pick up from where they left off last season.
Players need to think about what to do to break down a stubborn defence or to take advantage of possession in the final third of the pitch. It is the creativity in these situations that will stand out and practice will give your players a good chance of a successful game.
You don’t want to sit at home after the event, planning on what to do next because you failed to make the most of the one chance the team had to score.
Think about the small details in the wider scheme of things and you will be on your way to starting the season in the best possible way. Even if you don’t win, if your players have made the most of the chances that come their way, you will have something to build on.