Part 9 - The 43 point player checklist

Spurs Need To Go Mental - Part 9

In Part 8 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series last night I looked at Succession Planning, Fan Bonding, Performance Responsibility, Reading The Game and the attention to detail needed to be a success. 

In Part 9 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series I'm going to take a look at Sports Psychology and what a psychologist would look at in a player to determine his mental strengths and weaknesses. I'll provide you with a 43 point player checklist and the 1,075 improvements Spurs could make.

The 43 point player checklist

He will analyse a player, not just on the pitch, and record everything in as much detail as he can to present to the player. It is vitally important that the psychologist has evidence to back up what he then tells the player because players do not remember what they were doing in a game.

You can't just tell someone you stand for 10 minutes a game with your hands on your hips for instance, they won't know and unless they believe in you totally they may not even believe you.

When you present evidence you are saying I have done my homework, I have studied you intently in minutest detail and working together we can make you a better player. Now you have a subject with a responsive mind and being open minded with a sports psychologist is of the utmost importance. A closed mind is not going to take anything new on board, a closed mind is the mind of someone unable to fulfil their full potential.

I mentioned in Part 6 - £20,000 would have avoided the Lamela fiasco, that we spent £73 million on three players and had very little return, in my view because we haven't dome enough for them and because they haven't done enough for themselves.

A Sports Psychologist would have told us what we are buying, a Sports Psychologist would have told us what we needed to do for them off the field, as it is we have wasted a year, wasted an opportunity and set the club back another couple of years.

Here is an example check list of the things a Sports Psychologist would take note of in any player they are working with and I will point out this list is the list a Sports Psychologist who has worked with Premier League footballers uses.

Sports Psychologist Checklist

1.   What is he doing in the tunnel pre-game
2.   How does he take to the pitch
3.   What does he do when taking to the pitch
4.   How does he shake hands with the opposition
5.   What does he do pre-game
6.   What does the player do immediately before the whistle goes
7.   What does he do straight after the whistle is blown
8.   What does he do before the start of the second half
9.   What does he do straight after the whistle is blown for the second half
10. What commitment, aggression and determination does he show going for a header

11. How does he jump to head the ball
12. What commitment, aggression and determination does he show going into a tackle

13. How he goes in for a tackle
14. What commitment, aggression and determination does he show when chasing back after an opponent who has the ball

15. How does he chase them back
16. What commitment, aggression and determination does he show when chasing a back pass to the keeper

17. How does he chase the back pass
18. What is the players foot position prior to reacting and sprinting (for those of you wondering about foot position, it helps to show if the player is mentally ready, if he is reading the game and will therefore directly affect his ability to perform the task)

19. The players ability to react and sprint
20. What the player does directly after he has just sprinted
21. What does he do at a corner
22. What does he do at a free kick
23. How many times does he put his hands on his hips
24. How many times does he bend to tie his boots
25. How many times does he adjust his socks
26. How does he react to a foul
27. How does he react after he has made a mistake
28. What does he do after making a mistake
29. What does he do when he is under performing (does he and how does he change his game)

30. How does he lead and motivate his teammates
31. How does he try to raise the crowd
32. When does he try to raise the crowd
33. What does he do in the last 5 minutes of the first half
34. What does he do in the last 5 minutes of the second half
35. How does he react when the team is losing by 1 goal, by 2 goals etc
36. What does he do when the team is losing by 1 goal, by 2 goals etc
37. What is his reaction to being substituted
38. What he does as he leaves the pitch
39. If a substitute how does he warm up
40. What does he do when he warms up
41. How does he prepare himself before he goes on
42. What does the player do when he is stood with the third official waiting to come on

43. What does he do at the end of the game
The Sports Psychologist will also talk with the player and ask him about his mental state, what was he thinking at certain points during the game. This helps to build a picture of how he is reading the game. It also helps you find out about his focus and whether he can concentrate on everything happening around him for the complete game.

Obviously to do this you need honesty from the player, you need the player to accept that the Sports Psychologist is there to improve his game and buy into that. An open receptive mind as opposed to a closed mind.

If you are assessing a transfer target then you have to garner what you can from the game unless you can get to have an informal chat with the guy. Using those 43 points you'll start to get a mental picture, is there a lot to work on or does he already show a winning mentality?

These check points being used with our own players will enable them to improve all 43 aspects.

In Part 8 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental series I talked about Humphrey Walters who made 1,000 suggestions to improve England off the field towards the 2003 Rugby World Cup and have highlighted the Kaizen approach for continual improvement throughout.

The 1,075 Improvements Spurs Could Make

There are 25 players in a squad which at 43 improvements per player is 1,075 team improvements. Do you think we would be a better team with 1,075 improvements, which all stem from a players mental approach?

A player seeing the improvement in himself and in his team mates will continue to work to improve his game and continually have to work because his teammates would be improving. You get that environment and are we going to have a better club, a more successful club? You bet we are, it would be a place players want to be, a club players want to join.

Footballers are not super beings they are just like you and me, just that they get paid a lot more. They still have the same mental make up, they are not born with a different brain to us, they have to be taught. Are we teaching them any mental skills because I don't see it on the pitch from any of them. They are all just doing what their limiting minds tell them they can do and in a lot of cases right now they are not even doing that.

Nobody chooses what you have in your mind, nobody chooses what they have in their, they decide for themselves just as you decide for yourself. Plugging them into a mental program can only make them better players and if, as I suggest we become world leaders assessing transfer targets, then we need to become world leaders mentally developing players once they have come to the club or we are letting them and ourselves down.

Everybody undergoes stress, if a footballers girlfriend is giving them grief, if a parent is ill, if they have an argument, what ever it is it can cause them to have an off day but if they have a trained mind it will not affect them much at all which again is good for the team and good for performances.

To all you computer geeks out there all you are effectively doing is replacing one bit of software in your head for an upgraded piece of software, now who turns down upgrades, especially if they are easy to implement, you can do this in 30 minutes a day.

Look at Liverpool this season, they have employed a Sports Psychologist and Liverpool have gone out and won most games by half-time. Every single game for the Liverpool players is a big game, not just the Manchester United or Everton games. The result, they produce the goods in every game, there is little inconsistency.

That has been the key to their success this season, their mental approach.

Spurs need to be the best they can be, to do that we can't just do what we have been doing because we will just get the same results.

Recent Posts - The Spurs Need To Go Mental Series
Part 8 - Fan Bonding & Substitutes Preparation
Part 7 - Les Ferdinand must go
Part 6 - £20,000 would have avoided the Lamela fiasco
Part 5 - Spurs need Gareth Bale's attitude 
Part 4 - Spurs need to assess players better
Part 3 - Spurs players should learn from Harry Kane
Part 2 - The mental shift Spurs must make to be successful
Part 1 - Spurs need to go mental

I have mentioned previously in this series the need for Spurs to become world leaders in the recruitment of players. The players you buy determine your success, yes you'll have home grown you will have worked on but it's the players you buy that have got to fit who make the difference.

Spurs spend millions on players, our success on the field is determined by it and therefore our financial income, should we not be doing everything possible to ensure we have covered every angle before we spend?

What we are doing now isn't good enough, it's haphazard guesswork. Daniel Levy needs to take the bull by the horns and set up a transfer team to deal with this that comprises experts in their field. It's no good saying he looks like he has the right attitude or asking someone else, Spurs must be using experts to do that for ourselves.

Bottom line is what we are doing now has not been good enough. We need to turn this into a finely tuned science and start plucking the winners with the talent from wherever they may be, instead of plucking talent and hoping they are winners. Not all footballers are winners.

Spurs could significantly improve if they concentrated and perfected this rather important area.

In Part 10 of the Spurs Need To Go Mental Series I will take a look at Youth Development and how we can pick the best talent.

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