Part 11 - Eriksen shows Bale's attitude

Spurs Need To Go Mental Series - Part 11

In Part 10 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series we took a look at youth development and how going through an academy can leave you with the wrong mindset.

In Part 11 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series I will take a look at football coaching and suggest not enough time is devoted to individual player development.

I suppose I must trot out the old saying there is no I in team, which is nonsense, a team is made up of individuals so if you improve the individual you improve the team.

Everyone is an individual and everyone prepares for a game in their own way, or they should. I turn back to my cricket days to a time when my team didn't used to do any warm ups before the game, yet I would be at the ground 30 minutes before everyone else practising on my own. I wanted to be ready to produce my best straight away.

How many Spurs players have produced their best straight away or straight away after coming on as a substitute? I'd argue none possibly apart from Hugo Lloris who has been exposed in the first 5 minutes of games regularly.

We are the only team in the Premier League not to have scored in the first 15 minutes, that tells you the mental approach to games has to be wrong. We are not setting out to win games but to not lose them, we are not setting out to score, we are setting out not to concede, the opposite of the League Champions elect Liverpool.

I'll quickly throw in here that I do not begrudge Steven Gerrard a league title, he doesn't have one and has been a brilliant servant to the club so I'm delighted for the consummate professional.

Anyway back to our topic, one size does not fit all. Preparing for a game you'll see the players have a team warm up and then team drills and passing or shots for the keeper, it's all rather, almost, a waste of time. If you watch players quite frankly they go through the motions.

As a coach you need to know the individual and what suits him best, how are you going to prepare him to his optimum, team tapping the ball to each other does nothing it's a show for the fans really.

There certainly has to be mental preparation time which can't be when the manager is giving his team talk. Take Andros Townsend when he warms up he likes to shoot at goal but it's mentally aimless, there is no deliberate attempt to get it on target just kick it and see what happens.

The result is he misses the goal most of the time and then during his spell in the side he had an average of 10 shots per game and guess how many made the keeper make a fine save, virtually none, most dribbled at the keeper or missed the target completely. He shot in the game as he had practised in the warm ups, abysmally.

He has prepared to perform badly and promptly gone out and done so. I'm using Townsend as an example here not to specifically pick on a player before I get jumped upon.

When he comes on a substitute he is not mentally ready, he is a go through the motions warm up man and believes his game doesn't start until he gets onto the pitch. That's wrong.

He should be totally mentally prepared having taken in as much knowledge as he can by studying the game and learning what happens in given situations. That is his personal responsibility but first the players need to be mentally trained to do it and that is off field coaching.

However all our coaching staff have never been coached that way themselves which is part of the problem with training employing coaches who have been taught archaic training methods.

Sports science evolves all the time but how players are taught to play doesn't evolve much. Coaching is not all about simply coaching football, we should be coaching the individual player as well. If we are to be successful we have to take individual player development to another level.

We must have a set system and coach the players within that system of course but then each player must have an individual skill improvement program. The player who stays behind after training to practice a skill demonstrates the right attitude but few it seem do it.

Tim Sherwood has recently revealed he has to drag Christian Eriksen off the training field, why isn't he having to drag them all off, is Eriksen the only one with the attitude to improve himself?

Eriksen shows Bale's attitude

What individual skill improvement does a midfielder do, someone like Mousa Dembele? He doesn't take free kicks, he rarely shoots, his main attribute is going past people. Why have we not improved his shooting since he has been with us and why is he not shooting more often?

He prefers to pass than shoot he says, but why? Who has mentally looked at why he doesn't like to shoot and what have they done about it? I would suggest nothing, in which case how is he going to change, how is he going to improve? When are we going to start producing the player that is within him because there is a far better player waiting to get out.

We spent money on 7 new signings, our model is to buy young and improve them, yet we don't have the proper systems in place to do that, the players that improve are the ones with the self drive to do so. The players should all have a mental training program which will focus them into improving their own game each day. They will end up asking themselves how I can improve today, what knowledge can I gain that I didn't have yesterday.

To get the best out of a player you must know what motivates him, not just as a footballer but what motivates him outside football. Do that and you'll know how he thinks about training, about games and you'll be able to help him improve faster.

Jan Vertonghen's body language in the tunnel before the Liverpool game told a story but even here one size does not fit all. For some laughing and joking is just a way to keep their emotions in check, for others it will be tunnel vision, focused on what is to come.

Leaning against a wall as if you are about to have a cigarette may be right for others but if it was they would do it every game. You need to know the individual as much as you can so anyone helping them mentally shouldn't be like a doctor you go and see once a week.

In Part 9 we had the 43 point player check list and every one of those items every player can improve upon. We should be ensuring that happens. At the minute we are behind clubs on the field but there is no reason why we have to be behind them off the field.

We have provided brand new facilities, now we need to provide some brand new and world leading training methods.

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