Canadian Soccer – My Alternative Plan

Back in July 2012 Canada was seeking a new Technical Director. At the time I posted on our website blog ( see below) a proposed 10 step plan. All the initiatives I suggested are as relevant today as they were then. The Canadian Soccer Association have proposed another strategic plan – these 10 initiatives should be reflected in this plan if we are to achieve long-term success with youth player development.

Based on my coaching experience during the last 12 years at many different levels of the game (Private Academy Owner, Toronto FC Academy Staff Coach, Provincial and Regional Team Coach, University Coach, Super-Y League and Technical Director of a large club) I would like to propose the following 10 step plan:

1) Develop National “Proven skills development pathway plans” for grassroots and elite players that can be shared and implemented by qualified coaches at all levels

2) Increased emphasis on futsal to increase skills and enjoyment of the game

3) Implement an up to date talent identification and development program (LTPD is outdated) 

4) Implementation of national skills testing program

5) Incorporate private academies within our mainstream development programs-some of our best technical resources are there

6) Implementation of regionalized skills development coaches to visit clubs and schools to improve skills for players aged 5-8 and 9-12)

7) Joint ventures with Canadian universities to establish elite training centres at their facilities

8) Set up “coaching excellence” development centres at universities to deliver ongoing “best practices” coaching education

9) Establish a culture of “inclusion” to mobilize all our best “soccer resources” from coast to coast around one central plan

10) Establish a national professional soccer league that will form the second tier for MLS

The Canadian Youth Development System is Flawed – how do you as a player successfully develop?

The youth system in Canada is flawed! It is fragmented with our best young players being scattered across OPDL and private academy programs playing in SAAC and CAF. The governing authority, the Ontario Soccer Association, are trying to put pressure on SAAC and CAF to disband by not allowing teams in these programs to play against community club teams and preventing its better players from being selected for our Ontario provincial teams which leads to national team selection. This situation has been going on since 2005 when four of us (Bryst, Power, ANB and 1v1 Soccer ) as private academies, formed SAAC. The situation has not changed since 2005 and it is unlikely to change in the near future. Is there any other country in world football that prevents its best young players from participating in National team programs due to a “political issue”? 

In addition, the talent development methodology being deployed in Canada is flawed. LTPD is a traditional and outdated talent development model that makes the incorrect assumption that young players develop at the same rate and go through the same journey. They do not and there is significant research to prove that!

See Research and Practice in Talent Identification and Development – Some thoughts on the State of Play

The good news is that you, as a young player can take control of your own player development pathway:

 1) You can accurately assess and benchmark your current technical and physical performance levels against young academy players (at EPL professional clubs) of similar age in England. We use an individual player development platform for this 

2) You can also supplement your own team training by training on your own. Young players at academies in Europe train 10+ hours/week. We provide our Masters program players with daily video home training programs (30 minutes/day) and we also post a training video each day on our You Tube channel. You can subscribe to our channel Ian McClurg Learn Perform Coaching and receive these videos daily in your email in box for free 

3)  You can sign up for supplemental training by qualified technical skills and performance coaches. For example, we offer 2 hour technical/speed classes on Tuesday & Thursday nights and they are an effective use of time to help bridge the training gap between you and young players in Europe

4) You can actively participate in the best youth development systems in Europe by selecting programs that are tailored to you as an individual player and not travel to Europe in a team program . You can also select programs designed
 specifically to improve your individual player development and not designed to provide “an experience” with sightseeing built in. This only increases the cost and prevents players from travelling to Europe more frequently. 

All these options are much less expensive than OPDL or the high costs many of you incur by traveling to youth tournaments across Canada or the US. 

To be the best you have to do something different than everyone else. We offer a FREE consultation on how you can design your own personal individual player development plan and successfully compete with the top academy players in Europe.  

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ian McClurg, Masters in Performance Coaching & UEFA A licensed coach 

ian@ianmcclurglearnperform.com 

289-239-9602

FREE CONSULTATION: Train and Get Selected to attend High Performance Training Programs at Manchester City, Ajax, FC Porto and other top European academy programs in UK, Spain, Portugal, Spain & Italy

There are young players in Canada good enough to play soccer at the highest levels. Last year, Hamilton’s Theo Corbeanu moved to England to play with the Wolves U18 academy team. Theo was first spotted by Wolves at our first Wolves Player ID camp in 2012. 

The challenges facing young North American players is two-fold:

  • Training hours are significantly less than young players at European academy programs. Players at academies in Europe are training 10+ hours/week after U12
  • Lack of access to top coaches. In Spain, there is one UEFA A or B licensed coach per 27 players. In North America, there is one A or B licensed coach per 1000+ players

My coaching practice, since 2000, has been devoted to successfully preparing young players in North America for training, playing and placement opportunities in Europe. 

Learn About My Coaching Philosophy 

I know that young players in Canada have MLS and Canadian Premier League options now but I firmly believe that our young players should be spending as much time training in Europe and participating in the best youth development systems in the world in order to maximize their potential.  The youth development systems in Europe are far superior than the current models in North America. North America has failed so far to develop a single world class player in any outfield position!

Why young players in North America should train and play in Europe 

We have a proven methodology for young players from 9-18+ based on my academic studies in gaining a Masters in Performance Coaching, successfully achieving a UEFA A license and visiting and studying at some of the top youth academies in Europe. 

Learn About My Coaching Success to Date 

The system is based on:

Assessment : We can now accurately benchmark our players technically & physically versus young players at top academy programs in England 

Training: We offer flexible supplementary training programs overseen by a UEFA A licensed coach where young players can close the training hours gap between European players based on learning all four key moments of the game:

-Initiating attack

-Scoring goals

-Beginning to press

-Defending the goal

Placement: Each program we offer has a direct pathway to training, playing or placement at top academy programs in Europe

Individual 1:1 training:  Formal Trials in Spain, UK, Germany and Holland and extended stay training programs in UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and Holland 

Masters Program: Formal Trials in Spain, UK, Germany and Holland and extended stay training programs in UK, Spain, Italy, Germany and Holland 

Technical & Speed Classes:  Selection and recommendation to attend High Performance Training Programs at Manchester City, Barcelona , FC Porto and Ajax

Technical/tactical classes: Selection for European tours to professional club academies for player assessment and feedback 

Contact me for a FREE consultation on how you can achieve your soccer goals in 2019! 

Ian McClurg 

Masters in Performance Coaching, UEFA A license

ian@ianmcclurglearnperform.com 

289-239-9602 

Pathways to the Pro’s

Ian McClurg Learn Perform Coaching are delighted to announce several new initiatives to provide young players in North America with a clearly defined pathway to train and play at European academies and then attend trials at professional clubs and pursue US Scholarship Opportunities.

As I have been advocating for many years, it is my belief that young North American players can compete at the highest levels. However, it is critical that they participate in the European development models as much as possible. There was a great article by US player Geoff Cameron that outline the importance of this. Geoff, a former US international player was well qualified to provide this insight as he was a product of the North American system but challenged himself by testing himself in one of Europe’s most competitive leagues – the English Premiership.

“Does anyone honestly think that Christian (Pulisic) would be the player he is today if he had stayed in Hershey, Pennsylvania? He had to go. It’s an incredible thing that he’s in Germany right now. It’s the best thing for him. We need 50 more Pulisics playing in the Bundesliga and Serie A and the Eredivisie — even if some of them really struggle. Especially if they struggle”

READ FULL ARTICLE

There are no guarantees that players will receive professional opportunities by participating in any program but I believe this defined pathway does significantly increase the opportunities for ambitious and hard-working players both in Europe and for US Scholarship opportunities.

Each player participating will be tested against professional club academy standards. We are able to accomplish this through our partnership with Soccer Profile

Soccer profile allows our players to technically and physically test themselves against players at professional club academies in England.  Learn More

After assessment, our players are provided with a detailed plan on what skills to work on and what opportunities they should be taking advantage of on an annual basis. All players will work directly with me and performance will be monitored on an ongoing basis.

Some of the opportunities now available are:

  1. Elite player training opportunities at some of the top academy programs in Europe such as Ajax and Manchester City
  2. Short and long stay training and playing opportunities at professional club academy programs Europe – UK, Spain, Italy,Germany, Portugal & Holland
  3. Formal trials at professional clubs with support from an agent for players who are a very advanced level 

Local coach builds ‘pathway to the pros’

Hamilton Spectator – March 2, 2011

This article first appeared in the Hamilton Spectator in 2011. Since then we have developed partnerships with top professional academies in England, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy, Holland and Germany. We have placed over 100 players in Europe to gain valuable experience training and playing to accelerate their individual player development.  Are you ready to take your performance to the next level in 2019?

Contact us to learn more

You’ve probably never heard of the Cape Verde Islands. No surprise. It’s a largely unknown tiny cluster of islands just off the west coast of Africa which is home to barely half a million people.

Canada’s soccer-playing population is five times that. Yet with all those players and all our resources, we remain buried on FIFA’s world rankings, 80th overall, just ahead of places like Mali, Benin and Jordan. And yes, behind Cape Verde.

Ian McClurg would love see this change. All of it.

The new assistant coach with the junior team for Toronto FC’s elite soccer academy says there’s no reason Canada has to continue languishing in mediocrity or worse. Which is why he thinks some recent changes in the way the game is overseen will pay big dividends down the road. Maybe rather quickly.

If you are a young soccer star in this country, getting spotted at a young age has long been a crapshoot at best. You’ll need luck and probably some connections to be discovered. By the time a talented kid is identified as such, he may have lost a number of years of prime instructional and development time which puts him way behind players from other countries that are finding their top prospects early – age seven or eight in some European countries – and giving them the resources to become elite.

Further, few Canadian kids dream of a career in the pro game because they have no idea how to achieve such a thing. Hockey has a clearly defined hierarchy and path unlike soccer whose ladder remains a mystery to most.

“I believe firmly Canada hasn’t maximized (its talent),” the Ancaster resident says.

Hence our terrible international record in men’s competition over the past few decades. Throwing young men into games against opponents who have had top training since they were boys usually isn’t a fair fight.

McClurg knows a little about being on the other side. Growing up in Belfast until his family came to Canada in 1981, he was raised in a soccer culture. He later earned a tryout with a British team but he says he always felt he had a coach’s mindset more than that of a player.

“I definitely challenged coaches when I played,” he chuckles. “I would ask questions about why we would play in a certain way.”

He simply couldn’t figure out why some things were done the way they were. Still doesn’t. When he drives around town and sees practices going on, he occasionally finds his blood pressure rising as he watches drills he believes are rather unhelpful.

Coaching allowed him to fix that. With the kids he instructs, anyway. He ran a provincial team for a few years and for the past decade has run a soccer school that stresses building technique and skills ahead of winning games. Last fall, he was asked to help with TFC’s academy.

The idea behind the program is to scour the country for top kids, bring them to Toronto and train them effectively. Get kids as young as 14 and start getting them ready not only for a career in the pros but also to take on the rest of the world. McClurg, who recently got his top-level coaching licence in Europe, explains the kids don’t pay to come, so economics don’t weed out some of the best talent.

“This is the first time in my lifetime a young player in Canada can see a pathway to the pros,” he says.

Already it’s bringing some results. Canada’s Under-17 men’s team just qualified for that age group’s World Cup with 14 of the players on the roster coming from Toronto FC or the Vancouver Whitecaps’ academies. Last year, the Montreal Impact started its own academy, suggesting the number of elite players could continue to grow.

Further, McClurg says with Vancouver joining the MLS – the top level of professional soccer in the country – this year and Montreal in 2012, there will be more pro jobs for Canadians which will also help develop talent.

So, with all this effort being made to shore up the foundation of the sport here, is there really a possibility Canada could get back to the World Cup one of these years for the first time since 1986? McClurg doesn’t hesitate.

“Oh definitely,” he says. “Maybe not this time, but the one after.”

Maybe climb the FIFA rankings past the Verde Islands, too.

sradley@thespec.com

905-526-2440

Individual Player Development – 5 Tips on how to accelerate your learning and increase your performance

Youth player development is an ongoing process. Young players at academy programs in Europe spend over 10 hours a week developing their technical, tactical, physical and mental performance levels.

Our objective is to assist young North American players reach higher level of performance and challenge young players in Europe for professional playing opportunities and US Scholarships. We hope that our weekly tips help several young players maximize their full potential on their soccer journey .

You can subscribe to  these weekly individual player performance tips here

Technique – What to focus on to play at the highest levels

In the future, the best players will be those who can excel in a fast-paced environment. There will be even greater demands on technique, tactical understanding and physical conditioning.  Players today are faster and cover greater distances than previous generations. Passing combinations are faster and there is an increased importance on controlling possession. More goals are scored through quick counter-attacking play and decision-making is of critical importance.

So what technical skills should young players focus on if they are to reach the higher levels of the game?

Young players should continually work on their dribbling ability, passing and receiving and how to successfully execute individual skills under the pressure of time, space, and an opponent.

-Dribbling: Take risks! Develop your moves to beat an opponent

-Improve your ability to keep possession. Work on shielding, spin turns and changes of speed and direction to get away from opponents

-Receiving: Work on the ability to receive and have a quality 1st touch – when receiving on the ground and in the air. Receiving using all surfaces should be developed

-Shooting: Proper striking technique from different angles should be worked on and taking shots on the volley and half-volley with both feet

-Passing: Proper technique – Laces, Inside, Outside, Short and Long; Crossing

-Heading: Jumping to head

-Tackling: Proper technique, in balance, no fear.

Technical Training Video of the week – Execute ball master in one grid and dribble ball through central area to execute ball mastery in another grid 

Tactical – Be prepared to press, persist and possess

The modern game is one of flexibility. The game is more fluid than ever and the top teams now deploy “inverted full-backs and wingers”, false number 9s and ball-playing goalkeepers to deal more effectively with retaining possession and winning it back quickly. The game today resembles more and more the sport of basketball where the winning team typically is the one that has managed transitions between attack/defence better.

Learn More 

Physical – Improve your stamina

Interval training is a good training approach to improve stamina. Top players are running between 7 to 9.5 miles per game and it is very important that young players are in a training program that will allow them to reach that level of performance as adults. Players that have not reached puberty should focus on mastering their technical skills and can develop fitness through small-sided games and playing. However, players who have went through puberty can begin to develop their aerobic capacity – see tips from former professional player Scott Parker .

Learn More

Mental – Self Assess your Performance

An important part of youth development is developing the entire person — not just the soccer player. We expect young people to go onto the field of play and make smart, correct decisions by themselves — so it is vital that we begin to develop these qualities early in their development.

When I talk to academy coaches across Europe or professional scouts they place a large emphasis on the psychological attributes of young players when evaluating potential. Is the player self-motivated, taking responsibility for their own development, has a strong mentality to overcome set-backs and do they have a strong capacity to learn?

Learn More

Pathways to the Pros

We are delighted to announce several new initiatives to provide young players in North America with a clearly defined pathway to train and play at European academies and then attend trials at professional clubs and pursue US Scholarship Opportunities.

As I have been advocating for many years, it is my belief that young North American players can compete at the highest levels. However, it is critical that they participate in the European development models as much as possible. There was a great article by US player Geoff Cameron recently that confirmed this.

Learn More 

APPLY  NOW 

Embrace Hard Work in all your training sessions & games this week.

Hard Work beats talent ……when talent doesn’t work hard! 

Make yourself a top player – 5 Tips on how to accelerate your learning and increase your performance

Youth player development is an ongoing process. Young players at academy programs in Europe spend over 10 hours a week developing their technical, tactical, physical and mental performance levels.

Our objective is to assist young North American players reach higher level of performance and challenge young players in Europe for professional playing opportunities and US Scholarships. We hope that our weekly tips help several young players maximize their full potential on their soccer journey .

You can subscribe to  these weekly individual player performance tips here

Technique – What to focus on to play at the highest levels

A new study has confirmed that technical ability is the best predictor of success in soccer.

Read Study 

No player will be able to instantly master all technical aspects of the game without constant practice. In Europe, young players, after age 11, are training 10+ hours per week. In Brazil, young players are spending 12-15 hours/week working on their technical skills.

In North America young players have to supplement their team training with additional training by themselves or with a technical skills coach in order to successfully compete.

Technical Training Video of the week – Dribbling Through Gates with a Tennis Ball 

 

Tactical – Be prepared to press, persist and possess

Young players in North America are not immersed in a vibrant soccer culture like Europe . They have few opportunities to watch top players and teams in action. Growing up in Northern Ireland for example I was able to watch top players like George Best and Johan Cruyff play. Therefore, young players in North America must be students of the game and be able to analyze and learn from games that they watch on the internet or television.

Here is an analysis of a Champions League game between Chelsea and Barcelona

Learn More 

Physical – Improve your agility, acceleration and power 

Youth players between the ages of 12-16 typically run an average of 6-9 kilometres a game, with 350-550 metres completed at high intensity. (Arcos, A. Et all, 2015)

Young players can develop this. Here, Leicester City’s Head of Fitness and Conditioning outlines an exercise that is guaranteed to test your agility, acceleration and power.

Learn More

Mental – How to progress from academy level to the professional game 

Youth football in Europe is very highly competetive. Only 180 of the 1.5 million boys who play organized youth football in England will become a Premier League professional player. Here ex-player Joey Barton offers an insight into what is required to successfully move from the academy levels to playing professional.

Learn More

Pathways to the Pros

My programs can provide young players in North America with a clearly defined pathway to train and play at European academies and then attend trials at professional clubs.

As I have been advocating for many years, it is my belief that young North American players can compete at the highest levels. However, it is critical that they participate in the European development models as much as possible. There was a great article by US player Geoff Cameron recently that confirmed this.

Learn More 

 

Practice by yourself -take ownership of your learning process

We have advocated in previous articles about technical development being the foundation of a young players learning. Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal Manager who has helped develop exciting young players such as Cesc Fabregas, outlined this in an interview many years ago Learn More   that the development of a young player is like building a house and that the foundation must be built – based on technical development.

I’m a firm advocate of the 10,000-hour training rule — the theory, as advocated by Malcolm Gladwell and others, that if you truly want to be good at something, you have to devote at least 10,000 to practicing it. Further research has confirmed that 10,000 hours is only a threshold to become an “expert” or “world class” and that more hours may be required to be the very best.  

That means that if young players wish to become world-class at their chosen sport, they should be training anywhere from 10-20 hours each week. Of course, the type of training a player follows is also crucial. In soccer, for example, I believe that young players can train for more than the 10-20 hour/week range, without negative side-effects, if the training is based on technique and players are enjoying playing small-sided games. They also have to be in an environment where there is no expectation on winning and losing.

Young North American players lag behind players from other countries such as Brazil, Spain, England, Germany and France in the number of hours spent with the ball. In Brazil, young players are still developed in the streets and have a head start over young players from other nations, based on the number of hours that they spend with the ball. The top Brazilian players, who have proved to be the most creative in the world, such as Pele, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo Zico all shared similar learning experiences. They grew up playing street football (soccer) and during their early formative years, most of their technical development was achieved by practicing on their own.    

At professional clubs in Europe young players typically start training in academy teams at U9 (aged 8). They may have had two years of “informal training” once or twice a week until then, before entering a more structured environment at the U9 level. At the U9 levels young players in Europe typically train 4-6 hours/week in a team session and 1-2 hours in individual technical sessions. 

At the U9-U12 levels, training time can increase to 8 hours/week for team sessions and 2 hours in technical sessions. Changes to the academy system in the UK have increased coaching contact time from U9 to U12 from 4 hours/week to 8 hrs/week. For the U12 to U16 age groups the coaching contact time has been increased from 12 hrs/week to 16 hrs, mainly by having the young players attend the academy 1 full day/week instead of attending school. 

So how can young players in North America close this gap? How can they replicate the individual technical sessions at academies in Europe or the number of touches that young players in Brazil get? I believe that they have to take ownership of this and ensure that they are getting enough touches on the ball away from their regular practice. Many youth coaches do not focus on ball mastery work sufficiently in practice so it is left up to young players to ensure that they are developing their technical skills themselves. 

We have now partnered up with Soccer Profile so that players can measure themselves through technical and physical assessments with academy players their same age at professional academy clubs in the UK. Players can take ownership themselves and work on individual training sessions and skills challenges (away from team sessions) to improve their technical skills and physical attributes. Essentially the program provides with a measurable roadmap on how to reach an academy level of performance in the UK and feedback on what areas they have to focus on for improvement.

Learn more about the Soccer Profile Player Platform

It is an important for young players to take responsibility for their own development and this can give them an important advantage over other young players. To be the very best, you have to find a competitive edge and this is one way of accomplishing that.

Player Tips: Take ownership of improving your technical skills. No one told Messi or Ronaldo to go practice and get better. They did it because they had, and still have, a deep passion for the game 

Coaching Tips: Build individual technical training into your weekly program and recreate the street soccer environment with unstructured play to improve the number of touches young players get on the ball and increase their passion for the game

Parent Tips: Encourage your child to be constantly working on their ball skills in their free time, rather than doing non-athletic activities such as being online. Technical skills need to be constantly improved and developed 

    

 

Manage your training load

The speed of the game is quicker and the time that the ball is in play is almost fifteen minutes greater than in the 1990’s. Speed, agility, acceleration, strength and endurance are all physical attributes that must be developed by young players (at the appropriate phase) during their long-term development.

When I travel overseas and spend time at professional club academies in Europe it becomes apparent that for many of our young players in North America, training loads are not being managed properly and are in fact hindering development. The top players in North America can end up playing for multiple teams – an academy or club team, provincial or regional representative teams and their school team. In this scenario, young players end up playing too many games, train too much and are getting inadequate rest and recovery. This can lead to physical and mental fatigue and increased chances for injury.

Training loads are an important element of athlete development. It refers to the structured process of the appropriate level of training in terms of frequency, duration and intensity. If training loads are managed correctly, then physical attributes such as speed, strength and endurance should be improved to improve performance.

The following can be used as guidelines to ensue that the training loads of young players are optimal, in order to improve performance:

  • Training sessions should gradually increase in intensity rather than suddenly increase
  • Proper rest should be factored into the typical training week in order to gain the full benefits of training
  • Training should be altered to keep it fresh and avoid too much stress on one particular part of the body. For example, if young players are working on improving strength then they must alternate the areas of the body they are working on
  • Pushing to the point of extreme exhaustion and muscle fatigue will do more harm than good for a young athlete

Young players should be aware of the symptoms of over-training so that they get to know the limits of their own bodies. Some of the symptoms include:

Persistent Fatigue – increased tiredness, being lethargic, poor concentration

  • Muscle injuries – Recurring muscle injuries is an indication of over-training due to a lack of recovery time. The body is unable to deal with the constant demands being placed upon it
  • Irritability – Irritable moods can be a tell-tale symptom of over-training
  • Loss of appetite – Overtraining can lead to a loss of appetite and a lack of adequate nutrition can have knock-on effects in terms of performance levels and general health

With our best young athletes being pulled in several directions amongst competing interests, the responsibility for managing training loads falls on them. Monitoring can assist with this and it can be as simple as keeping a journal of all training activities that can be shared with all their coaches or as sophisticated as an athlete monitoring system, like Metrifit, where data can be entered on a daily basis by the young player in order to accurately calculate training loads and illustrate the Readiness of the athlete to train.

Taking responsibility for managing training loads can be a key factor in the success of athletes to fully maximize their training time and protect their greatest athletic asset – their bodies!

Player Tips: Be aware of the symptoms of over-training. Maintain a training log to understand how much you are doing and adequate rest and recovery into your training cycle

Coaches Tips: Gain an understanding of the other athletic commitments of your players. This will assist you to plan the frequency, intensity and duration of your  sessions in order to optimize performance of your group

 Coaches Tips:  Encourage your child to maintain a training log and share this information with all their coaches, if they are multi-sport or playing on multiple teams.  Keep an eye out for over-training symptoms in your child

 

References

Metrifit Resources www.metrifit.com  

Develop a growth mindset

The varied tactical approach’s of the modern game demands players who are more flexible in their thinking and willing to embrace change. Today, top teams restructure their tactical approach many times during the course of a game and “intelligent” players who can identify challenges on the field and provide effective solutions will thrive. The modern player will literally be required to “think on their feet” and embrace and thrive during change.

Attitude is a major component that professional clubs look for during their talent identification process. Many players and parents underestimate this attribute and believe that if a player is producing on the field then that will be sufficient. However, they fail to recognize that player development is a long process. Young players will face several challenges, set-backs and adversity as they progress in the game. A major factor whether they will succeed at the highest level will be determined by their mindset.  Success in sport requires a strong desire to always strive for excellence, an open mind to constantly learn and improve skills and an ability to positively deal with mistakes and set-backs.

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has researched achievement and success, over several decades and has concluded in her book “Mindset – the New Psychology of Success” that it is not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we demonstrate a fixed or growth mindset.

Athletes who demonstrate a fixed mindset believe that their skill levels cannot be changed and as a result they tend to display the following behaviours:

  • They avoid challenges as they fear failing
  • Believe that skill is something you are born with so why work on improving it
  • Give up easily when encounter challenges
  • Do not value the importance of effort to achieve success
  • Gets frustrated easily and ignores feedback or criticism
  • Feels threatened by the success of others
  • Underestimates the importance of perseverance

In contrast, athletes with a growth mindset tend to demonstrate the following behaviors:

  • Embrace the belief that improved skills come from hard work
  • Positively embrace challenges
  • Are inspired by other athletes
  • Are willing to work-hard to constantly improve
  • Actively seek feedback/criticism and see it as a process to improve
  • View set-backs and opportunities to learn

Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset – the New Psychology of Success” pointed out the example of Billy Beane, a top baseball prospect who the movie “Moneyball” was based on. Beane was a very talented prospect in his youth but was unable to realize his full potential in Major League Baseball by being unable to evolve from his fixed mindset. His talent was not enough and he ultimately struggled to cope with the increased challenges that breaking into Major League Baseball presented.

There are numerous examples throughout sports of less talented athletes initially becoming the best in the world. Famous examples are Michael Jordan not being selected for his High School Basketball team and Usain Bolt failed to qualify for the finals of his first IAAF World Youth Championships in 2001.

In soccer, Jamie Vardy proved last year with Leicester City in England that perseverance and hard work do pay off. Vardy was released by Sheffield Wednesday at 16 and only five years ago was playing non-league football in England. Last year he won the English Premiership title with Leicester and has now been selected to play for England.

To succeed in sports and maximize your abilities ……develop a growth mindset!

Tips for Players: Print off the growth mindset poster and put it somewhere prominent that you can refer to on a daily basis. Embrace its values!

 Tips for Coaches: The best players in the world make the most mistakes. Encourage your players to make mistakes and view these as opportunities to learn

 Tips for Parents: Read the book Mindset and help your child to recognize the value of hard-work and perseverance to improve their performance levels

Source: Mindset – The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck