Irish Grassroots Football

Playing With Confidence…

Confidence is a feeling and one that you cannot buy, wish or hope for. It comes from demonstrated skill, practice and previous success. The more confidence you have the more you will relax, focus and trust yourself in pressurised moments.

Playing with confidence gives you the best chance to succeed and this will help you to reach your true potential and really that is all a player can ask of his or her self.

Low Confidence

People with low confidence generally are afraid of doing things that competition might require you to do. This will cause a player to be nervous, take very few risks and make mistakes. They will need enthusiasm from others to keep going. The value what others think and say of them which makes them fragile and overly sensitive.

“In order to be a successful competitor you have to care”

At the opposite end of this we have over confident which sometimes is actually fake confidence. Can be seen as bragging, taunting, drawing attention to themselves, being disrespectful and arrogant. These are generally a cover up for a lack or real inner strength.

We have all witnessed the player who is so arrogant he/she depends on talking his/her game up when it starts to drop. When the arrogant player isn’t successful they blame the Coach, the manager, his/her teammates, the position or task, officials and anything else they can think of but themselves.

Inner Confidence

The very best players, those with inner confidence don’t have to tell people how good they are they know they are good because of all the hard work they put in before they walk onto that pitch. That quiet confidence and an inner belief is the sign of a fully prepared competitor.

Yet many players  who come fully prepared can also get very nervous before performing. This can have an impact on them mentally and physically. The key here is to know what is making them feel this way and how to get over it.

FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real

Fear of Failure

Feeling the fear of success or fear of failure is not abnormal by any means; it comes with the territory.  Every athlete feels fear of failure at one time or another. Is the single biggest obstacle in a players way to success and reaching their true potential is the fear of failure. Failure damages mindset and makes them not trust themselves. It can lead to tension and can kill performance. The more we fear the more we fail. The more they fear making mistakes the more mistakes they make. The way around this is to control and alter ones mindset.


So we know that the best way to learn is to make mistakes. Every game we play comes with mistakes the key is to embrace them and learn from them. However that’s easier said than done. After all it takes a very strong mindset to go from mistake to mistake and not let it affect the performance.

If you fear failure enough you will surely fail.

Confident players have learned that they never really fail. Mistakes are just something that allows them to learn, make them stronger and more prepared and focused for the next time. They realise that mistakes are part of the process and the more they can take on the quicker they will reach their goals. The best way to overcome fear is to take action.


Fear of Injury

The fear of injury is very common amongst young players. If a player is thinking this way they will take fewer risks and don’t put themselves about on the pitch physically. They will get involved in fewer challenges and be not be as aggressive as the more confident player. The less risks you take the less success you will have on the field.

“Practice is 90% physical and 10% mental. Competition is 10% physical and 90% mental” – Mark Spitz – Olympic Gold Medalist

Fear of what others think

Many players are more concerned with what others think and say about them than what they think about themselves. This is a true sign of a lack of confidence and again makes them nervous, under perform and lacking 100% focus.

The confident athlete doesn’t let what others think or say affect their confidence. They have made a conscious decision about this. They are comfortable with who they are and know that the only thing that matters is that they have done their best to perform well. They are able to assess their performance by their own standards and nobody else’s. They don’t focus on the result but instead focus on their effort. The scoreboard (a source of feedback) is there but will not reflect on their performance or who they are.

“One day of hard work is like one day of clean living, it isn’t going to make any difference” – Abe Lemons

Dealing with it

The most successful players admit to having overcome their fears. It is normal to be worried (I sit here typing this worrying about things but I try and push myself to overcome the fear of failing). Those players didn’t give into their fears, they faced them head on and took charge of it. By being in charge you will stop making excuses and be honest with yourself. The fist step to overcoming your fears becoming a confident player is to admit it and then identify what’s worrying you. Worries will hold you back until you ‘say’ what they are. Write them down and face them head on. Determination defeats fear every time.

I always tell the players to keep a diary. Write down what went well and what didn’t go so well. Write down how they felt before, during and after the game. How many actually do this is your guess!! I’m guessing not very many.

Questions they can ask like; Were you able to talk yourself up? What made you play with confidence or what made you play without confidence? How was your level of fitness? Did you make many mistakes? Were you mentally fatigued or physically fatigued? Did food or hydration have an impact?

The answer to these questions whether they played good or bad will help the player make corrections quickly and they’ll be on the way to becoming a more confident all-round performer.

Fear of Success

Why do teams and players fail when the pressure gets to them?

Often this happens because of high expectations put on them by adults, coaches and others. Success can’t always be repeated and some players have been known to fear it as they don’t want the increased pressure and attention that winning brings (hard to believe, I know) so they let negatives thoughts enter their head and talk themselves down. It’s about confidence and believing in yourself and your skills as an athlete.

What happens, however when one feels afraid to succeed?  When you fail at a task you just try and figure out what went wrong, and then put a strategy together and then go make it right.  But for the timid and shy athlete success is a whole different can of worms.  Success can be intimidating, tough to handle, involves more challenges, responsibilities, and is sometimes threatening.  It’s the exposure that often causes the athlete to fear the success.

John R. EllsworthA Master Mental Games Coach has come up with 5 ways to overcome fear of success:

  1. Ask yourself, Why am I killing my own success?”  Check in with yourself and if you have a journal take time to put your thoughts down in your journal. What is it that’s holding you back? A sports psychologist or mental game coach is an excellent resource that brings the skills to help you get to the “What, When, and Why” behind the fear.  Keep it simple. There is no need to figure it out, but just accepting or coming face to face with the fear is an excellent beginning.
  2. Preparation, Prepares for Peak Performance.  If you are procrastinating or wait to the last minute to get things done it could be that you are a perfectionist, have an attention deficit challenge, or you subconsciously or deliberately do things to limit success like partying, or being late to practice, or simply not working on skills. Practice is safe for the fear of success athlete, but when the time comes to actually perform is when the subconscious avoidance program starts to kick in.
  3. To have success you must first fail. I worked with a world class Olympic track and field sprinter that had a fear of success.  He had gone through a dry spell where he was not getting the results he was expected to get. He started doubting himself and started to fear what was expected of him.  The fear became so intense that he often failed, because he wasn’t sure what to do with his success once he got it.  Once he figured out his fear of success was the hurdle he had to overcome he welcomed the prospect of success by planning what to do with it once it came.
  4. You are #1.  So much of the fear of success or failure has to do with the “others” in your life.  The others are people you feel you need to please to feel good or be recognized as a true champion. I’m here to tell you, it’s not about them, but is totally about you and trusting in yourself.  If you focus on you it narrows the focus to the things you can control.
  5. Become multidimensional.  Accept yourself as someone that has a diverse array of skills.  As an athlete you may be a sprinter, but that does not mean you aren’t capable of mastering another skill or event.  Just because you are poor at math doesn’t mean you can’t be a math teacher.  See yourself in the world as a collection of talents rather than build your self-esteem around one aspect of who you are.

John says “to solve the fear of success dilemma he asks the athlete to imagine what it’s feels like to succeed void of the attention, and the notoriety. Write down on paper or in your journal what imagined success feels like without any judgement.  Create as vivid a picture as possible using all the five senses”.

He goes on to say, “creating what it feels like to have success on your own terms empowers the athlete to see success without stress and avoids predicting an imagined unpleasant future. Planning in advance how you would like success to look and feel places all the cards in your hands and empowers you to accept success on your terms.  This can be a very powerful tool in helping the athlete manage the feelings that come with being successful”.


Ultimately it’s down to attitude. Attitude is a choice. Unlike skill, speed and strength attitude can be changed quickly. Players can go from a low confidence performer to having a growth mindset (competitors mindset) in a very short time. It’s up to them, no one else.

I’ll end with this quote:

“There is a choice you make in everything you do and you must always keep in mind, the choice you make, makes you”

Recommended books by Dan Abrahams Soccer Brain for the Coach and Soccer Tough for the Player

Ref: Psychology today, Protexsports

– End

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Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary


Dan Abrahams: Saturday 8th March’14

Just one week to go before Dan arrives in Dublin. On Friday night Dan will be taking a private session with the NDSL Academy Teams, KDUL and MGL along with some other players. Saturday will be the turn of the Coaches to get some sports Psychology onto their CV.

Signed up so far are coaches from Limerick, Galway, Kildare, Cork, Donegal, Belfast, Laois, Wexford, Wicklow and Dublin.

Dan will be delivering a football psychology workshop emphasising techniques, tools and philosophies for coaches picked from his two international bestselling books, Soccer Tough and Soccer Brain.

Topics will include:

  • Developing player confidence;
  • Helping players deal with distraction and develop focus,
  • Leadership;
  • Team cohesion;
  • Effective training principles;
  • Coach creativity and much more.

The workshop will be a facilitation meaning it will be highly interactive with group work and a high volume of audience participation.

The Early Booker ends Friday 28th February > 


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I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Coaching Clinics

Book Dan Abrahams Workshop

Book Now!!

Early Booker Rate at €18 or €29 with Book. These rates are subject to change and will increase closer to the workshop date. If selecting with book option, please pick either Soccer Brain or Soccer Tough. PAY ON THE DAY €25

Dan Abrahams Pricing Structure
If selected the book option, please specify the one you want.


Dan will be delivering a football psychology workshop emphasising techniques, tools and philosophies for coaches picked from his two international bestselling books, Soccer Tough and Soccer Brain.

Topics will include:

  • Developing player confidence;
  • Helping players deal with distraction and develop focus,
  • Leadership;
  • Team cohesion;
  • Effective training principles;
  • Coach creativity and much more.

The workshop will be a facilitation meaning it will be highly interactive with group work and a high volume of audience participation.

Dan Abrahams Website

Dan Abrahams is a global sport psychologist with some of the leading turnarounds in Premiership history and a global bestselling book. Dan is a former professional golfer and coach turned sport psychologist specialising in two sports: golf and football. In golf he is Lead Psychologist for England Golf. In football he is a leader in the field.He has delivered to more than a dozen league clubs, to the English Football Association, the British Professional Footballers’ Association, the English League Managers Association, the League Football Education, the Scottish FA and the League Football Trust.

He has held contracts at several Premiership clubs and is sought after by managers across Europe. He has spoken at some of the world’s leading football conferences and has appeared on numerous radio and television segments providing expert comment, and was a studio guest on Sky Sports The Footballers’ Football Show in December 2012.

Dan is most well known for his work in helping several players turn around their careers. For example, he helped Carlton Cole go from forgotten reserve team player to England international in just 18 months. He also helped Anthony Stokes go from just 4 goals in a season and a half to 6 goals in a month, 23 goals in a season and a million pound move to Celtic.

His books have achieved global bestsellers, with his first book, Soccer Tough currently the leading selling soccer coaching book in America.

His passion is to de-mystify football psychology for footballers at every level of the game. His workshops are fun, positive, upbeat and help all footballers develop their mindsets no matter their ability.

On a personal point of view, his book Soccer Brain has completely changed my mindset when addressing the players I coach. Any coach in any sport can use his methods. I highly recommend you attend this workshop.


I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading. I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary

Coach Talk Irish Grassroots Football Psychology


This is one of the best interview and insights into football psychology I have had the pleasure to read. Certainly some very unique and smart questioning by Mark O’Sullivan.


Dan Abrahams is a global sports psychologist helping people to high perform. His ability to de-mystify sport psychology is very evident in his brilliant book Soccer Tough where he introduces some simple but effective techniques that achieve quick results.

His new book Soccer Brain is directed at coaches. In this book Dan gives us some tools and philosophies to help create a more effective player mindset and in turn help establish a better coaching culture.

“Well that’s just football” and you think “Hmmm, that’s not football, that’s the way you’re approaching football.”

FOOTBLOGBALL :You and Horst Wein have something in common. Neither of you come from football backgrounds but you both have managed to change how many of us think about and experience the game. Has the fact that you came into football from another direction been an advantage to you? Ie you are coming from a different angle?

DAN ABRAHAMS : I think having formerly been a ‘non football man’ was, and has been, both an advantage and disadvantage. One of the drawbacks of sport psychology is the notion that you bring a pre-determined set of techniques into a sport without much prior knowledge of that sport, without understanding the language of the sport and without knowing the specific challenges the sportsmen and women in that particular sport face. Being a former pro golfer (both player and coach), golf is pretty easy for me to work in. When I started in football a decade ago I was pretty conscious of my lack of knowledge of football so I cut my cloth in non league and immersed myself in the football environment and its different communities – elite professional, journeyman professional, non league, grassroots, women’s football etc.

So look, sure, if you’ve never played the game to any level and if you don’t coach it, you’ll possibly never have the same feel for the game like those who have. But at the same time I can only speak for myself and over the past decade I’ve spent thousands of hours at training sessions, talking with leading coaches, at matches and at conferences and workshops delivering and listening. I’ve spent thousands of hours researching the game. I spent dozens of hours in the Prozone suite at West Ham working with a number of clients – so I’m comfortable that I have a good grasp of football.

In terms of advantages – coming in fresh can help you see things with a clarity that perhaps those who have been in the game since 8 years old don’t necessarily have. The number of times I’ve heard a client say to me “Well that’s just football” and you think “Hmmm, that’s not football, that’s the way you’re approaching football.” It’s easy for those who are embedded in the culture of football to just accept the game for what it is rather than cast a critical eye on trends, thoughts and practices. I am able to do that. I am able to look from the outside in and say “Really? I’m not sure about that. This can be changed and this can be seen differently.”

FOOTBLOGBALL: For me your book Soccer Tough had many ” I knew that but never thought about using it that way” moments. It is a terrific resource for any player , coach or parent . Your new book Soccer Brain , how does it differ from Soccer Tough ? Is it aimed more at coaches ?

DAN ABRAHAMS :Soccer Tough was aimed at players but naturally many coaches have picked it up and ‘run with it.’ Which is great! But I knew my next literary offering for the football community would be specific to coaches and centre on the coaching process. I hold a strong belief that the environment a coach creates is a prime mediator of development and performance. So I have written a book about creating a culture of success (development and performance.) It’s split into 4 sections: creating a culture of creativity, confidence, commitment and cohesion. It has loads of ideas for a coach at any level and at any age group.

“The Toughest Profession of All” 

FOOTBLOGBALL : ( Curve ball question 😉 ) I am developing an age related training strategy for my club. Not just age by date of birth but physical age as there can be gaps of up to 3 years physically between say two 14 year olds . Could we say the same in psychological terms about mental age and can you give advice on how we should begin to develop a more age related ( date of birth/mental / physical age ) strategy in mentoring players from a football psychology perspective ?

DAN ABRAHAMS : From a practical perspective this would be enormously difficult to undertake and I think you’d be looking at some fairly questionable methodologies should anyone go about trying to do this. Of course this is in my opinion. But there are certainly things you can do to help players develop a high performance mindset approach. It starts with your own understanding of the mental side of the game. What many coaches don’t appreciate is that mindset is both a talent and a skill. This is something I write a lot about in Soccer brain. Just as there is physical talent, so there is mental talent. Take a cross section of 20 13 year old footballers and some will have greater mindset talent than others – they are naturally better at concentrating, are naturally more confident etc. Of course this correlates with physical talent – but there will always be players who have less physical talent but over come this with a natural propensity to want to develop and to want to win.

So there is such a thing as mindset talent. Mindset is also a skill. Focus can be improved, as can confidence, determination, emotional management etc. This to me is where coaches need to improve in their ability to help players develop. Firstly just by recognising that mindset is a skill is a great start. Then you need the tools and techniques and the communication dexterity to help players in this area.

To come back to your question – I would say the most appropriate thing for coaches to try to achieve at every age group is to examine the behaviours of those who have good mindset and look to develop those who have poor, maladaptive behaviours. This is key – what a lot of coaches don’t appreciate is that mindset can be seen behaviourally. For example a lack of confidence might manifest itself in ‘hiding’ on the pitch or a lack of vocals. Young footballers may be fidgety when you speak to them. This is because of their brain. If this is the case ask them to stay still and look at you while you speak. Ask them to practice paying attention.

So in summary I’m not sure it’s about saying “This under 14 has a mental age of 11”. I don’t think ethically and scientifically you can do that. I think it’s about saying “This under 14 is demonstrating behaviours that are suggesting a lack of mindset talent. I need to help this player develop his/her mindset”.

FOOTBLOGBALL : My personal view of the game in England is that it has for decades been slow to embrace anything that threatens its “traditional game and values”. Now the FA have put in to operation a new “Player Path” plan to help improve the poor state of the game at grassroots level with the aim of developing a better standard of player at senior level. how do you think that your area of expertise can help the English FA achieve their aims.

DAN ABRAHAMS : I’d really just like to see psychology resources that hold more real world value for coaches and players. It’s easy to criticise football when it comes to sport science, and it’s fair to say football needs to be better (in England) at embracing new methodologies that arrive outside of it’s own environment/culture. But sport psychology needs to be better at developing strategies, formulas, philosophies, techniques and tools that are developed within football, are specific to the challenges faced in that environment, and are delivered in the language of football. I think I’ve had a little success in football because I’ve done just that. I don’t throw theory in front of a coach or player – I scaffold the theory and make it football specific and teach them in their language. That is so important and something we need to be better at.

If I was a coach I’d constantly be saying “Next” and “Think”

FOOTBLOGBALL : Children have a vast appetite for learning but in my opinion it dissipates dramatically when they enter our out of date education system. The same can be said for football where I think that the greatest conceit of coaching is that – young kids learn anyway, what is most important is the environment created by the coach and the coaches ability to not look at how he coaches but more how his young players learn . Would you agree ? And what tools would you suggest for that coach to use with his young group ( 6-9 year olds)

DAN ABRAHAMS : If think for any age group environment is everything. But historically FA courses have been about technique and tactics. Again this is something i have tried to address in Soccer Brain. As I say in the book “ In coaching it is the brush strokes that mediate success not the palette itself.” Coaching never has been or never will be just about technique and tactics. That is instruction and of course it forms a part of what you’re trying to teach. Coaching is environment and culture driven. At any age there needs to be fun, freedom and focus. There needs to be caring, discipline and determination. These qualities are set by the coach. They are the soft skills that make the hard skills possible. I’m convinced that if all coaches in Britain fell in love with getting the soft skills right, the environment and culture right, then we’ll start producing more players at the elite level.

I agree with your thesis – a part of the process of coaching is understanding how people learn – how the brain learns. It’s appreciating individual differences and striving to help every player irrespective of those differences. The intro title to Soccer Brain is called “The Toughest Profession of All” – because quite simply it is. Coaching is tough but some coaches stride around making it easy by just thinking that coaching is about drilling. Rubbish – coaching is player centred and driven by your coaching culture.

FOOTBLOGBALL : At the heart of football coaching is a teacher and a learner. Where both need to be

(a) Adaptable : The coach must show adaptability in response to changes in the players environment ( School , home , growth phase ) , The player must show adaptability to changes in his environment and be able to respond to changes that are happening live within a game.Often it is a woods from trees scenario for the young player. How can the coach bring greater clarity toward helping the player understand the changes in his environment both on and off the field.

DAN ABRAHAMS : Let me answer this simply. On the pitch I believe a coach should be constantly communicating the notion of ‘Think’. I remember Steve Gallen at QPR Academy always saying “What next?” The nature of the brain of young players means that they tend to switch off. They do something and then switch off. They watch the game rather than think the game. If I was a coach I’d constantly be saying “Next” and “Think”. Help them build a habit of prediction. That is what football is – prediction. It’s not really a game of ‘moment’ it’s a game of ‘prediction’. What is Messi and Xavi? They are ‘The now and the next 10 seconds’. That is the foundation of game intelligence. Ask players to do this, to be like this. You can’t reinforce this notion enough.

FOOTBLOGBALL : (b) Creative : How can the coach encourage creative thinking ?

Certainly doing the above can help. The coach also needs to promote an culture of freedom. You can’t be creative if you play anxious. Allow mistakes to happen – in fact have an environment where players love mistakes. Freedom comes before focus – focus will be built over the years as long as you have a base philosophy of freedom.

DAN ABRAHAMS : Creativity is also built from knowledge and mindset. Players should be students of the game. If there’s a clip of Gary Neville talking about how Raheem Sterling plays with his head up on YouTube how come there are young players out there who haven’t seen that clip? Resources are everywhere – you can’t create if you don’t know! In terms of mindset – promote the idea of imagery. Players should be rehearsing passages of play in their mind everyday. These should go from the mundane through to the complex. Create in your mind first – over and over. The it makes it more possible!

FOOTBLOGBALL: Our brains by nature look to save energy by automising a process which can create a conflict between our comfort zone and our development. Discuss

DAN ABRAHAMS : When we learn to drive we control the processes that operate/move the car. Over time these processes become less controlled and more automated. We pass our test and we drive in the most part unconsciously (with some attentional resources placed on the road ahead of us.) We drive for the rest of our lives at a certain standard ad within our comfort zone. But if someone was to come to us and say “I’m going to teach you to drive like Lewis Hamilton” then we’d have to come out of our comfort zone and start focusing on superior driving skills. We’d have to start thinking about our driving performance again – when to shift gear, at what point on the bend – what speed to go at around a hair pin etc. This will feel uncomfortable. It will feel reckless. It requires focus and effort.

One of the most difficult skills for any sports person is to hold that juxtaposition – to go out and play freely and confidently, but to spend time during the week critically analysing performance and looking at what needs to go better. Footballers don’t spend enough time looking at areas to improve because it feels uncomfortable – it can diminish confidence. We are all subject to habits and patterns as we play – breaking them requires self awareness, focus, patience, hard work and discipline.

I do believe this is one of the reasons why many young footballers don’t progress. They get into a certain maladaptive habits and patterns and either remain blissfully unaware that there is a problem or will avoid working on this area because it takes effort to change.

A prime example is ball watching in younger players. If a player tends to focus on the ball too much without getting a picture of what’s going on around him it takes energy and effort and enormous willpower to change this. It takes a move out of his comfort zone to start checking his shoulders 10 times a minute.

I could, if I wanted to name several very high profile midfielders who stopped working with me after about a month because I wanted them to THINK about their game and develop what I call a training script. I wanted them to start changing their dominant motor patterns that were leading in inefficient play. They were British and both have failed to progress – why? Because the feeling of change takes up so much resource from the brain that is was easier for them to not bother.

This is where certain Barcelona players are so good. I’m unconvinced about the notion of “Just do it” on the pitch. To be the very best in the world you have to have some thought, some controlled processes on the pitch. It’s a fluid game that is constantly throwing problems at players – they need clarity of thought in the moment, but there must be some thought. As Xavi says “Think, think, think”.

Many thanks to Dan for taking the time and effort to answer my questions.

You can buy Soccer Brain by Dan Abrahams HERE


I hope you liked this interview, I certainly did and thanks to FOOTBLOGBALL for allowing me to share this interview.

Follow Mark on Twitter @markstkhlm and Dan @DanAbrahams77 

See also Helping the Brain to Win Games By Blueprint for Football

Worth a read The Way Forward and The footballers who are all pay, no play.

I always like to hear your opinions. Please comment below or email me If, you don’t have anything to add then please forward this on to a friend. Thanks for reading.

I’m also on twitter @Coachdiary


Visualisation and Innonence

Leading Sports Psychology expert Dan Abrahams in his highly recommended book SOCCER TOUGH refers to a young Wayne Rooney visualising a perfect performance before going to bed the night before a game. 

Abrahams  says  that, visualisation if done in the right way can become a very important tool where this technique can be used  to help players develop a “rehearsal script“ to help them manage their thinking and build self-belief.  Seeing as the brain has a tendency towards a negative bias i.e to remember the things that go wrong, positive visualisation techniques can shift the players mindset to a more confident image.

This got me thinking about the innocence of street football from my childhood in Cork City Ireland as we dreamt up fantasy professional careers for ourselves, commentating as we played, copying our heroes, visualising our faultless performances in World Cup finals.  We were Brazils JOSIMAR hitting 30 meter thunderbolts (8 meters in street terms) past helpless goalkeepers and how did we celebrate…. YES like MARCO TARDELLI. I knew a lad who wanted to leave his hair grow long just so that he could play like Argentinas MARIO KEMPES. Hours were spent on our own in back gardens or on the streets  living out famous sequences from games that we watched on TV, all while the commentator in our head continuously found new superlatives to describe our incredible footballing deeds.  

In essence and innocence it can be argued that  we were using what modern sports psychologists refer to as positive visualisation techniques. It helped us learn the game, it helped us love the game, it helped us live and relive the game and it made us laugh … it was fun.

Then it all stopped. Adolescence came calling, we were expected  to  behave a certain way,  we became less creative as we fell into structured schooling with its standardised testing and structured football coaching with its adult expectations . We were expected to make less mistakes or at least cover up our mistakes. Failing was once part of our creative process  and now to paraphrase Becket, no more could we “Fail and fail better !”

Sometimes to develop as footballers we need to take a step back in years.

By Mark O Sullivan (UEFA B Academy coach at BOO FF Stockholm and sports director at