This week was spent in Salzburg, Austria participating as a mentor at the World Football Academy Football Tactics Evolution. Observing training sessions at Red Bull Salzburg and preparing a tactical methodology in an experience that pushed all coaches outside their comfort zones.
The metaphorical context for the course was the following:
After beating Portugal last night, you have 72 hours to prepare for the game against the winner of Spain vs Italy followed by again only 72 hours to prepare for the game against the winner of Germany vs Brazil.
This meant that we had a short amount of time to do a lot of work which in turn had the consequence that one important part in our daily lives needed to move down the list of priorities, namely sleep.
On the absolutely highest level of any sport or business, there are periods of time where you will need to work almost around the clock for your team or company to reach its objectives. Benjamin Franklin said it well, “Failing to prepare is preparing for failure” and that is not an option if you want to win tomorrow.
I remember from last summers WFA Pro course that one of the delegates shared to us his conversation with a coach who was currently at a World Cup team. This coach said that this scenario describes exactly what it’s like, working 20 hour days for multiple days in a row.
He went on to say that without having been a part of such a demanding education system as the World Football Academy in the past he would not have been able to perform at the level he did at the World Cup. In other words this coach put our metaphorical context into a very real context from the absolute top level in sports.
Being a mentor and helping coaches at such a demanding educational event as this means that you have to push your own boundaries yourself. My first reflection was that sleeping only 14 hours in 4 nights was no problem since I already did this for three weeks last year.
Having done it before meant that I knew I can do it again. I could trust my earlier training and know that my brain would be working as good or even better this time. To be able to perform in demanding situations you need to practice in demanding situations.
Stretch your own boundaries in training and you can enter the demanding real-life situation with the knowledge that you can perform – you’ve done it before. Trust your training.
There was also external experts at the Football Tactics Evolution; such as Albert Capellas presenting on the foundation of position games and Bayern Leverkusen scientist Terry Peters presenting on visual exploration. In addition the contribution from mentor Marcel Lucassen is invaluable for all coaches who want to improve their coaching on the pitch.
If you ever want to be a part of a “non-linear” coach education this is the place to be. However this is also an environment who only suits coaches who really want to improve. If you only attend coaching courses to get a certificate and are more worried about when the next break is than to learn, improve your thinking and maintain good thinking – this is not for you.
Looking forward to mentoring at this summers WFA Mentorship at Cardiff City FC, WFA Expert Meeting at Hajduk Split, attending the WFA Pro Course at Red Bull Leipzig and later the Personal Development course at Chelsea FC in September.
New opportunities to be outside my comfort zone, new opportunities to improve!