Growing up I played anything and everything. I couldn’t get enough, but I think the most important thing I did was to participate in individual sports. The biggest difference between individual and team sports is the individual accountability. Success is reliant on you being better than the other person. With failure, you can only look inward and ask yourself, what didn’t I do right, and what can I do better? With an individual sport you have to be your best every time. This gets lost in a team sport.
Look at the World Cup, several of the best players in the world have gone home because success depends on the team. We try to quantify individual measures but those statistics are all based on hundreds of other factors occurring. It’s hard to ask yourself what didn’t I do or what can I do better if your team is having success. Conversely it’s all to easy to pass the blame when the team is struggling.
Learning the lesson of individual accountability was priceless at a young age. It led me to have a competitive drive, some would say to a fault, to never lose in whatever I did. It led me to always wanting to improve and it led me to getting angry if I lost a 1v1. Whatever the competition, game or contest, I wanted to win and if I didn’t the first thing I asked was what didn’t I do?
I recently had a research manuscript rejected. It was a manuscript I was proud of and thought deserved publication in that Journal. However it gave me the opportunity to critically ask myself what could I do better? How can I clearly present this information so a reader can see the same value in it that I do. This required some different analyses and a pretty substantial rewrite but the final product was accepted without revisions at a more prestigious journal than before. The moral of the story is that it’s important to challenge ourselves. Great players have a competitive nature driven by individual accountability. They refuse to be second best, when they lose they work hard to never lose again.
The epitome of this is Tim Howard. He had arguably one of the greatest goalkeeping performances ever but during the post game press conferences the first thing he referenced was that he shouldn’t have let in the second goal. Imagine that, he just made 16, 16!!, saves in a soccer game and the first thing he does is take accountability, justified or not, for something he feels he should have done better.
That is one of our goals here at LeftFoot, as coaches, we want to instill that individual accountability. We want to develop players who don’t just accept team success, but strive for individual accountability. That’s why we want individual touches on the ball and do a lot of 1v1 drills. We need to develop players who don’t ever want to lose. One of Christian’s favorite sayings is “you can’t win, because I won’t lose”. What can I do to give my team the best chance to win. Do I need to defend, attack, score, move off the ball? Each game will be different but great players are able to identify in each game what they have to do to help their team win, but more importantly they question what they could have done better after a loss. Strive for greatness and demand accountability for yourself.
High elbows out,
Tyler Bosch, Ph.D.
Tyler is a former North Dakota Mr. Soccer and serves as LeftFoot Coaching Academy’s Curriculum Director since 2011. With a Ph.D. in Kinesiology and a USSF “D”, he helps organize Christian’s random theories into practical applications. He’s also a Strength and Fitness Coach working with hundreds of athletes over the years. Tyler grew up in Fargo, ND and played soccer, hockey, football and ran track through high school. He continued to play soccer at Saint John’s University where he finished as the 3rd leading scorer in school history. He has been training athletes and coaching soccer players since he was 19 years old. Tyler’s main focus during that time has been developing speed and agility in all athletes. He believes in developing functional movement and muscular balance.