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Psychology and Paradigms

MBP School of Coaches: Class #3 and #4

In class #3 (Friday’s class), we participated in another 4 hour session, but this time, we were learning from Xavi Garcia, who is one of the most important sports psychologists in all of Spain. Needless to say, we are incredibly fortunate to be able to learn from someone like Xavi.

During the course of our first 4 hour session with Xavi, we discussed a wide range of topics ranging from identifying and regulating the emotions of yourself, the players, and the team as whole to discussing the term leadership and all it encompasses.

To begin the session, Xavi asked each one of us to share our biggest dream/goal as a coach, and one by one, each of us verbalized our goals to the group. When it was my turn, I shared the fact that my dream/goal is to coach in Major League Soccer, in addition to having a big influence on soccer in the United States – from growing the sport in terms of culture, education, and passion. After each of us shared our dreams and goals, Xavi made it very clear to us that during the process in achieving our aspirations; it is crucial to “be yourself”. He went on to tell us that it is important to spend time to learn about ourselves in a way that allows us to identify/define our values, beliefs, and emotional states in order to better create the ideal atmosphere surrounding our teams.

One of the strongest messages Xavi transmitted to us was, “a master isn’t concerned with knowing, he is really concerned with learning.” The idea is that just because something is unknown today, doesn’t mean it will be unknown tomorrow. A basic human need is growth (…or learning), and if we (as coaches), foster an environment that meets the needs of the individual players, the team therefore, will flourish and grow.

In class #4 (Saturday), we were back with Dr. Rude, and the focus of the session was on the Meta-Game. As I discussed in the previous post, the meta-game is one of the soccer structures, and the events in this particular structure impact the game in-directly.

To start class, Dr. Rude asked a few questions of us. 1. What paradigm exists in your country (essentially, is the soccer technical tactical physical, or psychological)? What is the paradigm of FC Barcelona? Is soccer a science? What certainties or laws exist in soccer? Each of us explained the paradigms that exist in our country (Mexico, USA, Holland, and Spain). When it was my turn, I shared the idea that in the United States, our soccer paradigm revolves around physicality. I went on to say that in the United States, we pride ourselves on being able to out run, out work, and out muscle our opponents. Moreover, as a whole, we tend to seek the players who are the tallest, strongest, and fastest, instead of seeking the players who can think the game (tactical).

Interestingly, each of us was not satisfied with the existing paradigms in our countries, and each country can learn from one another in order to evolve the paradigm. The idea is that the coaches from Holland felt as though their country can improve from a physical perspective while Jesus felt as though Mexico can improve from a tactical standpoint. The main take away from this particular discussion refers back to Coach Xavi’s notion that there is always a need for growth!

As the session continued, Dr. Rude explained that the MBP methodology is tactical due to the idea that the majority of the game is played without the ball at your (individual) feet. He went on to say that the only certainty/law in soccer is to score more goals than the opposing team, and the strategies to do so remain endless.

With particular focus on the meta-game, Dr. Rude explained that as coaches, we have the ability to manage the elements outside of the actual game in a way that can impact the game on the field. Specifically, elements that comprise the meta-game are the fans, referees, the press, environmental conditions, and the facilities. Knowing how to manage all of those elements can either positively impact your team in the game, or vice versa.

For a large portion of the class, we learned about the art of giving press conferences, which is the best way to manage the meta-game. We analyzed press conferences from coaches like Manuel Pelegrini, Louis Van Gaal, and Jose Mourinho (the king of the meta-game). In fact, during our next class, we will each give a press conference in order to apply the information from class!

I hope you enjoyed the read, and I look forward to sharing my experiences next week.​

Twitter: @brettuttley and @TOGsoccer

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