Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

It’s not just the goal scorer that wins the game

By David Clarke
Motivation was in the forefront of my mind this month. Watching a player from a lower league who has attracted the attentions of a number of high profile Premier League clubs made me wonder what motivated him.

The English leagues have a transfer window during January. It just so happened that the club he plays for was drawn against one of the top Premier League teams and he was going to be in the shop window on TV. During that game the player excelled scoring the winning goal and pulling the Premier League defence all over the pitch.

The national press picked up on this and highlighted why this player would make it in the Premier League. They have never seen him play week in and week out when he doesn’t fancy the pitch or the team or there’s no one watching in the stands.

He is motivated by the challenge of playing at a higher level with a higher profile and a higher salary. When the transfer window closed again he played against a team from the Premier League but this time there was no winning goal in fact no goal at all, and hardly a shot.

One of the reasons he gets so many chances to score goals is that behind him supporting him he has a quartet of excellent players. One who can win the ball, hold it up, knock it down and take the defenders away from him. Then there is the clever winger who can beat players get into the penalty area and cross the ball. Finally there are two midfielders who can play long or short passes to put the attacker in space.

He gets the goals and the kudos that goes with it hence the motivation from a higher challenge. So how do you motivate the players that comprise the engine room of the team who create but don’t score the goals what kudos do they get?

Here are my tips for motivating all your players, you need to think about:

The way you communicate – with the right approach and by using positive language you’ll get enthusiasm and positive action – from yourself and those you coach. 

Various coaching methods enhance the motivation levels within soccer training sessions and during matches, including goal setting, rewarding positive outcomes and involving players in the planning process.

Allowing and encouraging players to take responsibility for their own behaviour and performance outcomes has a significant impact. 

Involving players in the design of soccer training sessions and programmes is a key step to increasing loyalty, commitment and ownership.

Remember it’s not just the goal scorer that wins the game.

Listen to this clip from Michael Jordan about winning and losing:

And watch Manchester United lose to a lower league team:

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