Blogpost

POSH: Numbers Alone Don’t Change Behavior

While a draw to the league leaders may be an acceptable result for the day, the continued issues with defensive set pieces are anything but acceptable. The POSH statistics on defending set pieces are anything but impressive. It is an issue that is well known to the players and coaching staff. Regardless of the statistical analysis, numbers alone don’t change behavior.

The video of Lincoln’s goal from the corner kick is difficult to watch but indicative of the grander issue at hand. The cross deflects off our flatfooted captain and goes to a player at the back post who has been left by his marker. While it would be easy to point the finger at those two players, it could have easily been anyone else. Most of the POSH players look flatfooted on the play. Although some might say that a change needs to be made in the defensive set up on set pieces, my viewpoint would be that there needs to be a change in the story the team tells itself about defending set pieces.

Image: Andrew Vaughan/CameraSport

Behavior does not change on its own, in an individual or a group. There are many ways to change behavior and one is through fear. The number of goals given up on set pieces creates a sense of fear when they happen. While fear can change behavior, it brings with it a lot of baggage. The fight, flight or freeze response can be triggered by fear and “flatfootedness” might be representative of this issue. At the moment, the players have a story running in their head about “not getting scored on.” That focus does not tap into the positive emotions that get better results. So what should be done? Flip the script.

POSH is perennially a goal scoring juggernaut. It’s part of the manager’s, team’s, club’s owners’ ethos to be forward thinking. From the type of players that we buy/produce to the school initiative, POSH is always looking to be on the front foot. So the posture of flatfooted and defensive does not suit our mindset. My suggestion is this. Whenever there is a set piece against us, the players need to get EXCITED! That’s right I said excited.

While a set piece in our end may seem like an opportunity for the other team, it creates opportunity for us as well. The field is about as wide open as it will ever be in a game. Center backs are brought forward leaving a skeleton defense at the midfield with one of our forwards. So rather than focusing on how to keep the ball out of our goal. Focus on what we’re going to do with it when we win it back. Create breakout plays from defensive set pieces to put us on the front foot. Then each player’s mindset is not, “I need to keep my mark from scoring.” It becomes “where am I putting the ball when I win it? Because we could score from this.” It’s obvious based on the pressing strategy in the final third that Ferguson has at least subconsciously sold the idea that “defense scores goals.” He’s absolutely right and the final third is not the only place that this is true. It’s true all over the field because in order to score we need the ball. Telling a different story about the situation changes the players’ internal dialogues and focus at these times of high stress.

The POSH go forward. That’s who they are as a team. This subtle tweak just puts them back on the front foot rather than being fearful and flat. Get excited because a goal at the other end is 20 seconds or less away! We have the speed and the players to do it. Now all they need to do is believe!

Up the POSH!

Pete

Blogpost, SoccerLifeBalance

I’d Bench Pele IF…

PeleTalent is coveted, scouted, poached and revered in this country.  It often comes with an extremely high price tag.  That price is monetary in the professional ranks.  However at the lower levels, the price of talent is far too often the possibility of teamwork.  At times this comes from jealousy of teammates.  Unfortunately it is more frequently a result of trading team ethos for star power.  It may get results but are they the right ones and for how long?

I’ve often told my teams that “I’d bench Pele if his play didn’t make us a better team.”  Now I’ve never had the pleasure of coaching the Brazilian star (nor would he need me) but that statement has usually followed the benching of a talented player for putting him/herself above the team.  The unfortunate thought that is going through several people’s heads at the moment is that “a great player always makes a team better.”  How I wish that were true but I know that it is not.

Talent does not exist in a vacuum.  It comes attached to a person who has a narrative inside of his/her head about what their talent means.  For some it makes them a large gear in the machine of the team.  While others tell themselves a story that the team is “nothing” without them.  In my preferred sport of soccer, I’ve never seen this to be true but I know it has been thought.

The key to a coach extinguishing this narrative is to swallow the hard pills at the right times.  Recognizing when a talented player has forgotten they are part of a whole and have them sit to consider that point.  Knowing when a player has “outgrown” a team and let their talent go.  These are the types of decisions that are good for the long term of the team and the player but difficult in the moment.

The stories that we tell ourselves are important.  They frame the world into a model that makes sense out of our personal experience.  There are billions of stories going on around the world.  My personal belief is that the accuracy of the story is not as important as the helpfulness of the story.  I started off by saying that I’d bench Pele…  I’m never going to be put in that position but it frames a belief system in a way that leaves no doubt to my conviction.  So as you go into your day, what’s your story?  Is the world out to get you?  Are your best days behind you?  Are you the world’s best student?  Is this your breakout year?  It’s only a story and you can keep it if you want to but put it to my test, does it help?

Go add to your story today!

Pete

Uncategorized

Attack the Monsters!

monstersIt’s something that every single one of us went through at one point or another.  The hard-wiring is built deep within us based on our ancestors’ need to survive.  Fear of the dark, unknown, bumps in the night, the boogeyman and the like are so natural that I do not blame anyone for that response.  Even at the ripe age of 41, I still have that response to some situations.  Even though I know that this is to a certain extent instinctual, it is possible to train it out.  I no longer check for monsters under my bed at night.  The question on my brain tonight is, would it be possible (and advantageous) to not only train the fear out but instill a sense of dominance over the monsters?

The beginning assumption of the child is that they need to be afraid.  In the ultimate Chuck Norris reversal, couldn’t the monsters be afraid of us?  If they are such badasses, why do they need to skulk in the dark anyway?  It’s probably because the sneak attack/sucker punch tactic is their only hope.  Flipping the script on a situation like this opens up a new world where the victim becomes the victor.  Since most of our world is no longer based on an “only the strong survive” system, a large majority of the shifts that change victims to victors are of mentality and not physicality.

Since there is less to need to fear and the game is mostly mental, perhaps it is time to change the assumptions that we make about ourselves.  Each of us has jumped to conclusions about ourselves based on limited or weak data.  “I’m not smart enough.”  “They’d never take me.” “I’m just really bad at ______.”  All of these are assumptions that may not be true or can be flipped.  The difference between a weakness and a strength might be as simple as perspective or selection.  Being 4 foot 10 inches is a major liability in the NBA but for a horse jockey, it’s an asset.  The world that you live in is based largely on perspective.

DON’T ASSUME YOU’RE WEAK, JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T FOUND YOUR STRENGTH YET!  The world offers so many opportunities to each and every one of us.  The problem is that many of us make assumptions about what those opportunities are supposed to look like.  People want opportunity to look like a lottery ticket rather than an unpaid internship.  The latter will probably make a stronger and smarter person but the former is sexier, so we ignore.  We ignore our strengths or opportunities to become stronger all the time because it’s easier to complain about being weak.  Flip the script and attack those monsters under your bed and inside your head.  You’ll find that that they’re no match for you when you believe and you act.

Have a great day people!

Pete

Uncategorized

Story Stacking (A Star Wars ripoff story)

StarWarsThe trilogy is not truly the king of cinema but rather stack-able stories.  There’s no magical power to the number three.  The key component to the greatest movie series is the way that the stories fit together and one movie can be catapulted based on the strengths of its predecessor.  While I’m a huge movie fan and have been since my childhood, there is something that’s missing from the great movies that are being released today.  Kids aren’t stacking them into their own lives.

Han Solo was my guy from about 4 until 10 years old.  In the VHS culture of the day, my brothers and I would watch Star Wars and then play Star Wars for hours afterward.  I was Han Solo for hours on end and it gave me a chance to wear his overconfident skin for a while.  His character was stacked onto my personality for a bit and I’m sure that some of it stuck.  After Han, there was Rocky Balboa.  I never climbed in a ring or drank a cup of raw eggs but I got up at 6 am religiously and ran.  Training for events or just life became part of my stroy.

While I think that the present day movie technology puts the 70s and 80s to shame, the greater shame is that since Iron Man’s mask is so readily available in the store, kids don’t need to wear his skin.  Everything is prepackaged and fabricated to perfection so much that a young person is always separated from their heroes by a layer of plastic that none of the residue rubs off.

The human race has reached its place in the world through the stories that we tell ourselves.  Thousands of years ago it started with a group of cavemen believing that they could collectively beat a saber tooth.  Then a man told himself that steam could move machines.  Now children are being told the most elaborate stories of all time but they are not stacking them like they used to.  The story is a ceiling rather than a staircase.  So if you are young or have contact with young people, stack those stories and attach them to your soul or the soul of someone else.  It’s not just entertainment.  It’s ENTERtrainMENT.  A new world you can enter to train your mental image of yourself.  So if you go out to the movies, be sure to go out afterwards and wear something new.

Enjoy!

pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Chewing Tobacco Solution

tobaccoMy cousin who is fifteen years older than me used to go on vacations with my family each summer.  At the time, I was a teenager and he was in his early thirties with a very successful career in retail.  Despite my seemingly inferior station in life, I was able to change his life for the positive with little more than a few words.  I’m hoping that the process can give some hints about making big changes in your life.

It was completely unintentional but it sticks out in my memory as if it were scripted out.  My cousin was and is pretty fanatical about health and fitness.  He would run everyday, do push-ups and sit-ups in order to maintain his chiseled physique.  Despite this relentless pursuit of fitness, he had a habit that seemed out of place to me.  He used chewing tobacco daily.  It wasn’t anything that particularly bothered me.  I had friends who used it.  The thing that felt out of place was that it seemed contrary to all that he valued.  So as we were driving home from North Carolina and he got his spit bottle ready for his next lip full of tobacco, I made the simple statement.  “It seems odd to me that you do that.  You are so healthy in all other parts of your life but you do something that you know is horrible for you.  I just don’t understand.”  That was all that it took.  He didn’t tell me until much later that he had quit using tobacco and that was the reason.

Many of our decisions break down to the story that we tell ourselves about ourselves.  It could be true or it could be bullshit.  The main thing is that the story is effective at moving life forward in a positive manner.  The reason why my simple statement was able to change my cousin so quickly was that it showed an inconsistency in his story about himself.  In that situation, I knew his story about himself and showed him how the tobacco didn’t fit.  People want to stay consistent with the image that they have of themselves.  That’s the entire reason why the term “midlife crisis” exists.  Men (usually) make poor decisions in order to maintain an image that they have of themselves as young, cool, etc.

The first step to changing a behavior in yourself or someone else is to know the person’s story.  What is an identity that they want to uphold at all costs?  Is their family the center of their world?  Do they think of themselves as an athlete?  Do they think of themselves as successful?  Once you know the story, take that thing that needs changing and flip it against their story about themselves.  I keep saying they but I really want you to do this to yourself.  So if your family is extremely important but you are obese, then you actually don’t care about them very much.  If you truly cared, you’d do your best to guarantee that you’ll be around for them.  The combinations of stories and behaviors is infinite.

The key is to find the one that works.  Results are what we are after, not an excuse to feel bad about one’s self.  Your mind can play tricks on you.  It is time for you to play tricks on it to help you get where you want to go.  The possibilities of your tomorrow need to be forged in the thoughts that you have today.

Tell yourself a better story about you!

Pete