You know, this is one of our soccer problems in this country…
These things we use so often are arguably an instinctive property of humans. We think that by using them we protect our egos, self esteem, self worth. In the short term, it might work. We go on living our seemingly flawless lives, faulting anything that goes wrong on something or someone else.
In the long run, you never improve yourself. And continual improvement is the foundation to success!
Now, let’s talk some soccer. I read and hear excuses all the time from coaches, players, parents, and fans at all levels. What’s interesting is that it is especially prevalent in soccer. You don’t hear nearly as many in the other sports. On the contrary, you can frequently hear analysts and commentators in other sports demolish a team, player, or coach for being awful. What’s more, you’ve probably heard about how critical the media is in other countries when it comes to their soccer.
Typical Soccer Excuses
- It was raining! It was windy! It was hot!
- We’re a “young” team!
- We didn’t really “care” about this game or tournament.
- It was a long trip to the game, our players were fatigued.
- We were missing some players.
… and this list goes on, and on, and on.
Facts as Excuses
Just because some of these statements are facts, don’t use them as an excuse for poor performance. Instead, look at the fundamental implications of these facts. Learn from them, and understand what can be changed so progress can be made.
“We lost because we were missing some players.”
When you say something like that, it’s the end of discussion. Do you learn anything from it? Can something be done about it?
What you should be saying instead is:
“We lost because our team is not deep.”
You see the difference? That’s a statement that clearly identifies a problem. Now a whole discussion on how to fix it can flourish.
For the Coach
Maybe you messed up and should have played a different formation. Maybe you should have changed your tactical scheme. Maybe you didn’t prepare the team properly – knowing you would be missing certain players. Maybe your players aren’t conditioned properly and ran out of gas with less substitutes. Or perhaps some new recruiting is in order. You get the picture? We can analyze and improve for next time.
For the Players
Maybe the players that had to step up and fill the void weren’t up for the challenge. They should take it as motivation to train harder and more often to get better.
You see, when you make an excuse, the topic ends and no progress can be made. Worse yet, you are perpetuating a culture whereby this is acceptable.
We need to stop and take some responsibility!
By far the worst one is:
“This game or tournament wasn’t very important to us.”
Really? If you ever find yourself saying that as a player, parent, coach, or fan, you should stop or quit soccer altogether! You are hurting yourself and the progress of our sport.
The truth is nobody wants to lose, regardless of the circumstances.
Now, if you are taking a certain game or tournament and using it for a reason other than winning, you better declare your objectives beforehand. Don’t come after the fact with your nonsense!
A Nation of Excuses
Every US high-school, club, college, pro, international game that is reported on, always has to have a positive spin to it. Not just from the traditional media channels, but from informal ones as well!
As a result, the message being sent to our players/coaches/management is that everything is ok. Proceed …
What is so wrong with being critical, and calling it like it is? Why can’t we say this or that player/coach/team/league is just flat out deficient? Why can’t we point at ourselves or our team and say it? Do we just not realize it?
Stop being afraid! Man up, take some blows to your ego and improve. You’ll be stronger, better, and more successful in the long run!