Support and development of the Manager
Not always but very often still, it is the Manager who receives the greatest praise in victory as well as all the blame in defeat. In fact, he is responsible for a team of over 30 including the assistant manager, the goalkeeping coach, the fitness coach, the mental coach, the physios, the massage therapists, the team manager, the scouts, the greenkeeper, the kitmen and between 23 and 28 players. He rarely works in the vicinity of his family home. After training he usually goes back to an empty rented flat. In the view of his immediate working environment he needs to be absolutely competent. He needs to have top professional expertise, extensive tactical knowledge, he has to be a good psychologist and speak well at briefings and conferences. He is expected to be kind and strict at the same time. After 4-5 defeats remain enthusiastic with his head held high and hope in his heart. He cannot show a sign of weakness. In one word: perfect. In the light of all of the above I have been accompanying Football Managers for four years and helping them by listening, providing tools and methods to work with people in the mental sphere, supporting them in achieving the right attitude and emitting the right energy in front of the team. When it is needed I support their communication with the team and suggest changes when the situation requires it. I form a bridge of understanding between the role of the player and the role of the Manager because sometimes players say “the Manager shouldn’t have behaved like that” and the Manager says “the players should know this”. I remind both sides what their role is and not to step into someone else’s shoes. Both sides find themselves in situations in which emotions overshadow facts and whose consequences for the team may be dire and irreversible throughout the season if they wind themselves up and there is no one in their immediate surroundings to stop them. Apart from the meetings in the club or on the matchday I am always on call for the Manager.
Individual development for interested players
9 out of 10 sessions throughout the season are for the willing players entered for competitions. The first session is compulsory since the club is making an investment and the player needs to find out what mental training is in practice before making a personal assessment and deciding whether he needs it or not. The following sessions are for the interested players, with one exception. When the Manager or I notice throughout several matches or training sessions that the given player displays a low level of determination, engagement or nervousness in front of goal, we will invite him for a session during which he receives information about what we had observed and, above all, professional support in conscious work on a given element. I conduct between 100 and 250 individual sessions throughout one season in a given club and the number of “compulsory sessions” is only a few, discounting the preliminary ones.
Keeping the “cancelled” alive
Despite the fact that a lot of managers are highly predisposed and competent in the mental sphere, there is one area the role of a mental coach is essential: deep and professional conversations with the bench players, those outside the squad or the ones getting fewer minutes on the pitch. At this point I need to ask Managers not to get offended. I am fully aware that in a lot of conversations with the players the Manager cannot say more than “You’re doing very well in training, keep it up, be patient and your chance will come.” It is my role to tone down the player’s focus on assessing and criticizing the manager as well as encourage, motivate and convince him to focus on even greater feistiness and quality in training. I often hear that from his perspective he is looking well and does his best as well as the opinion that “I’m better from the guy who’s playing.” For a lot of players my response initially sounds banal but they soon realize that their perspective does not count and what they must do is change the Manager’s perspective so that they make the starting eleven and become very useful for the team. Obviously, this is just one of the many topics of conversation since the subject of the “keeping a player alive” is very complex and demanding. In the second part of “The Role of the Mental Coach in the Club” I will discuss such topics as: a short and concise group workshop, observation in training, in the dressing room and during the match as well as an accelerated mode of recovering from crisis.
With a sporting salutation,
Paweł Frelik, Mental Coach
THE ROLE OF THE MENTAL COACH IN THE CLUB
Support and development of the Manager