Month: October 2014

A Season in Hell or Something Real Close to It

Five wins, four losses and six draws is close to comprehensive mediocrity, but the specific manner in which this record has come about is well south of mere mediocrity, and the cause for my present anguish.  I can no longer tolerate generic calls for more effort, or endure another misguided bystander noting “they just don’t want it”, not in the face of soft goals, incoherent tactical play, merciless ref-baiting and vision-less, overwhelmingly incompetent passing. 

Incompetence has a cumulative effect.  Simple plays that go awry, runs that go unseen, support and cover that vanish or never appear erode the very notion of a team leaving eleven frustrated, isolated individuals.  The cumulative effect of this incompetence becomes tangible in the behaviors of the team, and calls for more effort, more subs or better officials serve only to obscure the cause and existence of the team cancer.

The answer is reestablishing a collective identity, recalibrating the demands placed on each player to fit their skill set, defining a process of preparation and producing a manner of play that meets the challenges of the game.  Training sessions must be tightly structured to the issues at hand, and effectively re-create game-like situations that have been the difference between winning and losing.  Disractions and excuses need to be identified and excised from the collective mindset, replaced with personal pride and accountability.

The Constant Critic

I asked a player with whom I am quite familiar what he could have done better after a game, and he said “nothing”. To be fair, he played well, made very few mistakes and generally had a postive impact on his team’s performance, but the answer was troubling. It was bloated with contentment, and contentment is the enemy of greatness. Greatness is the result of an unrelenting push at the extreme margins of performance, and demands constant critique.

This is distinquishable from confidence-sucking, second-guessing as it requires a detached assessment of performance that does not invade the hallowed preserve of self-belief, but recognizes that subtle, incremental changes to a decision, speed of decision or technical execution can result in greater consistency, or a game changing play. To be critical of an ostensibly good performance manifests a heightened level of confidence, and is mandatory for transcendant development as a player.