Recognize greatness! (For AND against your team?)

Yes, recognize greatness even against your squad.  And no, this is not a simple "be a good sport" encouragement.  This is an actual strategy.  Play out the scenario a couple of ways.  You're at the soccer pitch watching your team losing.  You're feeling your competitive frustration growing and they strike again.  An offensive player against you just weaves right past your midfielder, then left around one defender, then right again seemingly right through your sweeper and then simply chips it past  your goalie as they go to the ground.  Your options are:

  1. Drop your clipboard, spin away from the field, raise your eyes to the sky and mutter a few choice words of frustration to yourself before turning back to the field and start yelling corrections out to your squad.
  2. Yell, WOW!  Did you see that!!??  Yes, be excited (for love of the game, not of falling another point behind).  Admire the ball handling skill of your opponent and turn to your bench immediately rehashing the entire attack with them showing how cool those moves were just made against you.   Talk to them about how awesome it was that your opponent had the patience to watch how the goalie was going to attack before deciding where to put his shot.
I get it, the first one is so much easier.  It's certainly natural.  And you might even be able to complete your spin before your field players get a chance to look to the sideline to see your tantrum.  But that's forgetting about your bench.  It's forgetting that these players are watching you even when they aren't listening to you.  
Do me a favor.  If your tendency is to do #1, test my theory out at your next match.  Instead of reacting at all, just watch your bench and see what they do.  My bet... you'll see 3/4s of your bench looking like mini-me's with their heads going back, gasps of frustration and comments of disgust.  I'm sure that was not the type of response you are trying to teach in the face of a challenge.
Now, play out #2.  The players on the bench want to be on the field.  They know that the way to get on the field and to stay there is to impress you.  Sharing your love of great play, no matter by whom, very clearly identifies for them what they need to do to solidify their position on the field.  I promise, you will see them trying to mimic their opponent.  And let's face it, in this game that's what you'd like to have them do.  I've seen this play out in one of the best technique defensive players I've ever coached.  It works!
So remember, the "in game" coaching you do is going to have a much greater impact on your bench players than the players out on the pitch.  Manage your reactions and they'll not only learn the techniques you want to see on the pitch, but more productive ways to respond to adversity and challenge.  Besides, just maybe they'll also learn to always keep their eyes on the pitch or they're likely to miss something GREAT!


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