This is the final part in a six part analyses titled “How to succeed in football” .
Just this week, a woman who is regularly in the gym arrived for a group training class. She was slightly less conversational than normal, slightly ashen but swore she was fine. As the class go under way, I noticed she was not cleaning in her usual manner. Her snatches were sloppy. Most of all, she was the first to change weights. She’s about 65, regularly cleaning 12kg kettle bells in each hand. I watched her go down to the 8 kilos, then the 4’s. I changed the exercise, and once she was a fraction of her usual self, struggling to do Turkish get-ups with a 4 kilo kettle bell.
It takes a special ability to be able to see beyond the obvious when it comes to your players. To see the performances you get and be able to understand the reasons behind them without having the athletes confess anything to you. A good coach knows when to push the player, to ask for more from them. He also knows when to back off. Sometimes, given the physical and psychological condition the athlete shows up in, training time is not only wasted time, it could be destructive.
When everybody else went off on a short break before the class proceeded, I asked her what was going on. She’s running a 10k this weekend. She said she was nervous about it. More than nervous- she was having nightmares. She tossed and turned about not finishing, about getting lost and having people sent out to find her. Those people couldn’t find her. Hers was a case of anxiety, lack of sleep, low energy, and maybe even over training. Once again, without observational skills, she may have just been lazy. Demand more from her, she breaks down, she gets injured. This, as they say, is the art of coaching.
Ferguson: The ability to see things is key—or, more specifically, the ability to see things you don’t expect to see.
Ferguson: But I always felt I couldn’t afford not to change. We had to be successful—there was no other option for me—and I would explore any means of improving. I continued to work hard. I treated every success as my first. My job was to give us the best possible chance of winning. That is what drove me.