Failure, Success and the Birth of Creativity

We develop through failure…it’s how we learn.

For players to truly develop their skills or talent to their fullest potential, we need to keep them engaged in the process. Adversity, challenges and failures can be tremendous learning opportunities that motivate and engage players that train in an environment designed to teach them to adapt and overcome. Or, if not utilized correctly, failures and challenges can be stumbling blocks of discouragement that hinder a player’s progression towards their goals. It’s all about the way we view failure, and the path we take to persevere through challenging times. This all comes to fruition in the teaching and learning strategies we as coaches implement with our players.

In our programs, we try and attack this within each repetition, each drill, in every session. Yes, it is very demanding on the coach. You have to “get up” for each training session and have a passion for making a positive impact on each athlete. We all have our “off” days where we just don’t “bring it,” but I can tell you from experience. The more often you bring it, and the more impact you make, the more you get back from the players in terms of energy, effort and enthusiasm. This is why we got into coaching in the first place, right? Burn out in our profession is very high, and I truly believe that it is high, because some coaches can’t get up and bring it every day. This lack of enthusiasm trickles down to the players and they don’t give much back. Energy in – Energy out!

So to briefly recap, we need to set the stage with our players – paint the picture in their minds of what they could be… Next we light the fuse and ignite their passion and desire by getting excited, emotional and enthusiastic… And finally, we refocus their energy and funnel it into quality practice during each repetition, of each exercise within each training block, so that they can make the connection to the big picture – their ultimate goal.

In our Game Speed Camps, we are seeking out individual triggers for each of our 300 players. We as coaches are trying to learn more about our player’s goals and deliver very subtle messages within the training session on how this can impact their goals.  Today, I asked players why they were here? What do they want to be? What do they want to get out of this camp? One smaller U12 boy said, “I want to get better.”

I responded with, “Better? Better than who? You want to get better so that you can become…?” After a short pause to reflect, the player looked at me and said, “I want to be the best soccer player in the world.”

I then asked him if he was doing everything it took to be the next Lionel Messi? He responded with a very quiet, “No…”

“Well…Let’s do it!” I chimed in. “Let me be your partner in the next drill.” At that point, I rocketed passes his way, and forced him to move quicker, faster and demanded more precision. He responded, by giving me everything he had. He had bad touches, slow feet, and made me work to get to the passes he played back. We kept at it… others got into the energy. We started competing and challenging each other. We failed miserably.

And then it happened… He checked away and then back to my pass with quickness and precision, took a clean and perfect touch and struck the ball with graceful rhythm right to my feet. I don’t know who got more excited him or me! And after a quick celebration, I reset the drill and said, “Now lets do it again.”

Let them fail, but make them try again. When they have success, celebrate it! Don’t let the fire burn out. Keep it lit, keep fanning the flame through constant encouragement. Don’t let them get satisfied with mediocrity. Challenge them to do something they have never done before like the kids in the video below. Drive them to go faster than they ever thought possible, and don’t let them be afraid to make a mistake. Give birth to creativity and passion.

When this kid walked into my camp he had no idea why he was there, where he was going or how he was going to get there. When he left, he had a dream, a vision and a very clear picture of what it was going to take to reach his goal. He may never be the next Messi, but if he continues to work, he may become something greater than he ever thought possible.

We have to seize the moment to ignite the passion. Fire does not light itself. There has to be an ignition source.

Bottom line is this… Players want to be great, they want to learn and they want to develop, but most of them don’t know how. They look to leaders (peers, coaches, pro athletes, etc.) to give them direction. My question to you is this… Are you setting the charge, igniting their passion and focusing on the player’s attention to the details that will carry them to new heights?

Scott Moody acts as the director of the SoccerFIT Academy in Overland Park, KS and has spent the last 10 years developing a curriculum that bridges the gap between the physical and the technical developmental aspects of soccer. His website, is designed to be an educational site that promotes discussion, offers ideas and breaks down current trends in research and training to offer suggestions as to how it can be applied to youth player development. Scott also is a featured speaker, author and research fellow for numerous organizations, equipment manufacturers and online training magazines.

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