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7 reasons why professional footballers should consider investing in an independent coach

Professional football or Soccer if you’re a player from the USA, is much more than kicking a ball into a goal and you’ll know as a player reading this, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

The reasons I’ll be mentioning are born from conversations I’ve had with former professional football players, articles I’ve read, experience and knowledge from the training and investment I’ve made in my self-development and some of the client experiences clients have shared with me, without mentioning any names.

Let’s consider 7 reasons why you should consider an independent coach

7. Uncertainty about your future

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Uncertainty in any situation can leave you feeling lost and this scenario is one that a client of mine found himself in and was doubting whether he should continue to play the beautiful game or not. His self-belief was at a low and didn’t know what to do or what to say.

We formed a strategy that allowed him to address what the uncertainty looked and felt like then created a plan to remove the uncertainty. Once it was dealt with, he moved forward with confidence and purpose. His self-belief was back again!

6. You’re in a slump

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You reached the professional level after dedication, commitment and hard work but something has changed and you find yourself in a slump and you’re being judged and criticised which isn’t fair because you have no idea why you’re in a slump. Here’s the thing; you haven’t suddenly lost your technical or physical ability, so what’s the problem?

When you communicate with others, you interpret body language and words in a way that makes sense to you at that moment in time and somewhere just before the slump, you’ve misinterpreted some words, tone of voice or body language that led you to think differently. When you think differently you behave differently so when you’re in a slump it’s because your thinking has changed, meaning your performance drops but this all happens subconsciously.

Some people will go out of their way to try to get in your head while others, may have good intentions but really don’t help at all. It’s important you understand, to get out of your slump you have the ability to change your thinking, to improve your performance.

Let’s say you’re a striker and haven’t hit the target for a while. The media will be on your back, your manager will be getting anxious, you’ll be getting anxious, tactics will change and you’ll practice shooting more than ever in training. All this can help but you must work with your thoughts before any of the above can have the impact needed to break out of the slump.

One professional sports person was in a slump. He didn’t know why but together we uncovered the source. He had misinterpreted a comment from his coach. In his head, he assumed the coach said something that contradicted his ability, which confused him, but because he respected his coach, he believed the instruction to be true and so changed his thinking. But because his new thinking was in conflict with his ability his emotions were all over the place so his performance took a dip.

This demonstrates how easily and quickly you can take a comment and interpret it in a way that’s detrimental to your performance. Let’s not let that happen to you.

5. Your livelihood depends on your performance

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Your ability to play football at a high level has attracted rewards such as a great salary and perhaps sponsorship deals. You have money! With money you can buy houses, cars, go on holidays, invest or do whatever you like with the money YOU’VE EARNED by kicking a ball about.

Imagine for a moment the ability to play football was taken away from you. Imagine you were no longer needed. What would you do? How would you make a living? Are you even thinking of what you’re going to do after football because the truth is, your time as a paid football player will come to an end and you must be prepared for when that day comes or you’ll end up scrimping and begging others for money just to pay the bills.

If your performance doesn’t improve, what’s the worse that can happen?

If you want to read how to motivate yourself take a read of this blog on how Michael Jordan motivates himself

4. Others will replace you in the blink of an eye

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Now you’ve had a thought about your livelihood, it’s also important you know, you can be replaced in the blink of an eye. You rarely know what deals are being talked about, how your manager perceives you as a piece in the jigsaw or which players they are looking at to replace you.

The relationship between player and manager is a strange one, considering the player and manager want to win yet communication is limited at best, with the odd exception (Klopp) but you can take control of that relationship by asking specific questions.

As a professional player, you have the ability to adapt and improve quickly, when you have a desire or need to improve, but how do you know what you need to adapt or improve? You can ask your manager a simple yet powerful question that will get you the answers

“What can I do differently to help the team?”

This is a powerful question for the following reasons

  • It let’s your manager know you care about the team and therefore him
  • It lets your manager know you have a commitment to helping the team improve and you’re not just looking out for yourself which can be perceived as selfish
  • Through asking this question, you’ll quickly build a new level of respect and trust with your manager, meaning he will look at you more favourably
  • You have a new purpose to strive towards meaning you’ll be energised and motivated in new ways
  • Your value will increase with an improved performance

3. You get the truth

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Sometimes the truth hurts, but would you rather have a moment of hurt or continue to live a lie?

Some people around you will speak highly of you, telling you how great you are in an attempt to not hurt your feelings, yet when you aren’t performing and you hear these positive comments, a false sense of security is created, meaning you’re prone and susceptible to being let down badly.

Only you know the truth but when the truth is masked by false comments, you can become lackadaisical and without a dose of truth, your performance will be in question and when performance is in question, so is your value and use for the team.

Independent coaching has no other agenda than to help you know it’s OK to accept your reality and remove the masks and false beliefs.

Some say it’s smart to hide the truth from you. I say it takes courage to accept your truth.

2. You can speak freely without being judged

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Many clubs have sports psychologists, player liaison officers and other support staff which is good on some levels, but there’s one big problem this environment creates.

One former premier league player I spoke to told me a horrific story of one player opening up to the psychologist in confidence. It was only when the manager mentioned the confidential topic in a meeting, did the player realise his trust had been broken. The other players lost their confidence in their manager and the team went into free fall. Can you imagine the pain, the frustrations and uncertainty within that club and within the players?

When you open up and share their deepest thoughts, there has to be confidentiality between you and the coach. An independent coach doesn’t have to report back to the manager or anyone else. A great independent coach, knows that trust and integrity are two of the most powerful acts a person can show another. This instils growth and improved performance.

1. When the person thrives, the player thrives

You are first and foremost a human and as a human your performance is driven by your thoughts.

Let me share a formula that you’ve probably never seen or heard yet is one you need to understand.

A thought leads to an emotion that ultimately affects your behaviour or performance. Remember earlier when you learned a slump is the effect of misinterpreting communication. You created a new thought, that led to an emotion, possibly confusion at the time, that led to a new behaviour, the slump.

For you to thrive, understanding this formula gives you a deep understanding of why you do what you do, why you say what you say and how you navigate the world of professional football and when professional football is great, you’ll be aligned in all aspects of your life.

But when there’s struggles, uncertainties and anxiety, you must learn to change things quickly before the worse happens.

A great independent coach will listen to you, understand you, create new thoughts with you and help you through challenging times while you reap the rewards on and off the field.

Bonus

If you’re thriving, then I congratulate you! You’ve got it figured out and I’m sure you feel balanced and able to navigate the world you live in with extreme confidence.

But if there’s at least one part of your life that you’re not happy with and want to improve, then talking with an independent coach could be the right move for you.

You can contact me in confidence by clicking here


Mike Nichols is an independent Master Coach specialising in discreet one-to-one coaching and is the owner of Elite Sports Minds 23, a high level, confidential coaching service for professional athletes