Success in football: fate or hard work?

Understanding the process of how a player triumphs or not in his career is, undoubtedly, a complex thing to unveil. After all, who has never witnessed a talented player who did not make to pro level? Or even more surprising, someone which you barely saw a minimum glimpse of expertise but who, somehow, made his way up?!

Fate or hard work?

The thing is that both scenarios occur more frequently than we would imagine in all edges of the world but, why this happens then?

Ok, we all agree and know how much complex football is. The numerous combinations of factors that need to be piled up to point out which star will shine or shrink are countless: mindset, family support, emotional intelligence, perhaps skills?  Indeed, the secret formula to success is too complicated to even try to figure out! However, for our own sake, that is not the main point we should aim to.

Leaving out all these external factors and trying to have a more straight outlook of the context, football, like any other sport, has a particular “mechanical system” of how the game should be played: taking the ball out of the pressure, playing wide and fast in possession and concentrating players into the ball zone when defending are just a few basic laws that every player should embrace as part of their “mandatory commandments”. Not just these basic concepts need to be understood but there are also specific rules for each position: a defender, for example, should master the art of covering as much as a striker should sniff the perfect timing to take diagonal movements for a scoring chance. Obvious? Well, it is supposed to be, but actually, not many players understand or are willing to accept these guidelines. That is the exact moment where the ball starts to bounce its tricks!

Let me explain why:

At youth levels, the best players will always be the most skillful ones, I guess that is easy to be noted, but as the years pass and ages advance, having a great “decision making” ability is what plays the key role in characterizing a brilliant player. Just like a musician needs to follow his master´s instructions and peers’ rhythm if he wishes to play in an orchestra, a player should know WHAT, WHEN and HOW to take the best actions according to his teammates, the opponent and,  of course, the strategy previously planned by the coach.

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The fact is, YES, decision making can be ruthless if not developed properly!

Let´s separate the wheat from the chaff then…

After having observed so many players come and go I realized that, despite all their particularities, they can generally be laid up into four categories:

I- The ones who neither have proper skills developed nor a basic understanding of the football game.

                – In general terms, these kinds soon enough realize that football is not for them, as a result, they end up hanging their boots up as earlier as you may think;

II- The ones who possess great skills but do not have a basic perception of the game:

                – Here is where the destiny demonstrates its unforgiveness. Talent itself does not guarantee a valid pass to success, without guidance, a promising footballer would just be another piece of emerald lost in a 120 to 90m area. Indeed, they do need a “GPS” to help them find the best paths!;

III- The ones who have no outstanding skills but understands and respects the football system:

                – And here lays down the “impossible dream”. Some players are clever and humble enough to recognize their own limitations, yet they still do the homework! Usually, these guys compensate their lack of “know-how” by mastering all the football principles and whatever they are commanded to do. They never give up! Coaches love that, so does destiny! For this reason, they can deservedly be put on the table for a chance;

And finally, the outliers:

IV- The ones who excel at both skills and game knowledge:

                – Here is where the crew of legends go on board. They stand out from the others because of their ability to align a superb talent with exceptional decision making choices. This great combination is what makes them so decisive and unpredictable. In other words, they have more options in their toolbox to fix the problems!

The fact, buddies, is that football is a tricky phenomenon. However, even though some of its ingredients to success remain unclear to us, I still believe some players are born with gifted skills. After all, nature claims its part too! As a football coach though, we must provide guidance to all sorts of players. They all deserve instruction. It is our main duty to lead them how to take the right paths and the best actions as well as to understand the football game-system, therefore, improving their decision making skill. At the end of the day, it is not up to us to decide who will be the next “impossible dream”. All we can do is to contribute to it!

So, let´s do it properly!

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