Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

A motivational masterclass

Dave Clarke

Last month Javier Aguirre’s Real Zaragoza team beat Real Madrid in Madrid for the first time in 11 years and only the fourth time in their history.

The team were seven point from saftey camped in the relegation zone when Aguirre took over at the end of last year but they have climbed to safety since then.

The key to his success is motivational not tactical. He was described in Zaragoza as “a macho but with intelligence and conviction, vehement and direct, using language players understand. Honest and fair with his players, he has created real bonds.”

The week before the Madrid game Aguirre constantly told his attacking winger Ángel Lafita he was better than Madrid’s defenders. Lafita returning from injury got the first and the third. “At last I can see the sun,” he said.

Of all the stories about his amazing motivational skills this is my favourite:

Aguirre used the wives and girlfriends of his players by secretly meeting them and making a video. The players unaware of this were gathered together the night before a big game. He put the video on, and sat back to watch their faces.

The players wives came on camera one by one: “There’s something I have to tell you. This is important. Listen to me.” Each of them spoke to the camera and to their own particular player. “I love you. Really, I do. But there is something we have to talk about. There is something you have to do for me …

… Go and win this match!”

He also tells his players they’re the Indians defending their territory from the white man and whips them into a fury before big games, lining them up and telling them which player each individual faces – and that it is their job to be better than them.

Motivation. It can count for so much when the odds are stacked against your team. It need not necessarily be as dramatic as these examples but it shows how inventive you can be if you sit down and think about motivating your players.

Watch the video of Real Zaragoza taking Real Madrid apart:


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