DEALING WITH EXTERNAL FACTORS.
Nothing is more interesting than football: there are so many factors you have to deal with as a coach during a football season. Players who speak a different language, a very short or long preseason, many or difficult trips for away games, perform on several occasions during extreme weather (very hot or very cold), … those are only a few examples of factors coaches have to deal with.
Every club and country has its own specific environment and they (co)determine between winning and losing. Coaches continuously have to make decisions on how to deal with them.
I’ll explain more about external factors in this blog and I’ll give some tips and tricks on how to deal with them as a coach.
Philosophy versus application
Football is the same all around the world so that’s why the game is always the starting point. The objective and universal Football Theory is described by Piet Tambier, Bert van Lingen and Raymond Verheijen in the book 'Football Theory'. This is what we call the ‘WHAT’. The philosophical approach to football is
- Conceptual (with rules and principles)
- Universal (no cultural elements)
- Factual (no grey areas)
- Objective (no opinions and past experiences)
The art of coaching
The next step is the application of this objective and universal Football Philosophy and that’s a subjective process. On the level of application it’s based on, for example, opinions, past experiences and cultural influences. This is called the art of coaching.
How you will apply something is of course different if you coach for example a women’s team in the United States, a youth team in Belgium or a national team in Asia.
It's all about ‘HOW’ you deal with external factors to keep your team fit, fresh and injury free during the entire season. Don't use external factors as an excuse after losing a game, having injured players or when your team is performing poorly.
What is an external factor?
An external factor is something that can have a positive and/or negative influence on the process during the season. This could (co)determine:
- The development of the playing style
- Fitness and freshness of your players
- Winning or losing
You can probably already give now several different external factors where you have to deal with in your specific context. External factors can be divided into certain areas:
- Culture (language, religion, background, …)
- Travel (jetlag, travel fatigue, …)
- Climate (temperature, humidity, …)
- Environmental factors (altitude, …)
- Facilities (natural vs. artificial grass,…)
- Season calendar (number of games, start of the season, duration winterbreak, many games after only 2 recovery days, after big tournament, …)
- Players (youth vs adults, amateur vs professionals, men vs women, …)
- Club (history, fans, press, end season tour, pre-season tour, …)
4 Tips for every coach
Are you a coach, will your new season soon start, did you take over a team during the season or are you preparing for a tournament: I advise you to follow these steps:
- Make an OVERVIEW of all external factors you’ll have to deal with during a season. Every season again. What worked last season isn’t automatically going to work this season.
- Try to describe all the PROS AND CONS for every external factor. You’ll unconsciously start thinking about all different scenarios and solutions because you’re the one making the decisions. So you will also be responsible.
- Always maintain STRUCTURE. Do not make a U-turn during the season after losing 2 games in a row. Avoid chaos!
- Consult an EXPERT if you’re dealing with an external factor you (or your backroom staff) are not really familiar with.
Team behind the team behind the team
I have created the concept and my own 'Team behind the team behind the team' over the last 10 years. The medical staff and technical staff is the team behind the team but I also look for different experts worldwide to support the team (for better planning and travelling; recovery strategies; nutrition; hydration and supplement advice; better sleep strategies; optimizing biorhythm, etc.)
This international network of experts keeps me up-to-date with the latest information to improve performance and recovery.
‘It's always looking for this 1% extra to become better
(for a player as well as for a coach)
and what can be the difference between winning and losing!’
The more capable you, as a coach, are to deal with the external factors in your specific context, the bigger the chance to be successful!