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Natural Talent? or hard work and an inner desire to be the best?

Posted by CAFS on May 30, 2011 at 11:01 AM

Welcome to my first blog entry. My name is Steve and i am the Head Coach at Inclusion Coaching Ltd and over the coming months i will share my thoughts on how i believe children should be coached, encouraged and handled to get the best possible results and most enjoyment out of the game.

 

Lets look at the most talented players in the world. Messi, Ronaldo, Beckham, Henry, Rooney, the list goes on and on. Players with bags of 'natural talent' and idolised by millions around the world. Where does this talent come from? Is it natural and handed down through the generations? Can it be taught? What is the one thing that makes these players stand out from the millions of others playing the sport all around the globe? Could it be that it is purely down to hours of practice, hard work, a positive outlook and an inner desire to be the best?

 

Lets take Beckham for example, when he was a young child he would take a football to his local park in east London  and kick it from precisely the same spot for hour upon hour. Beckham says 'i have always believed that if you want to achieve something special then you have to work, work and then work some more.' By the age of 14 his dedication had paid off and he was spotted by Manchester United youth team manager and had signed with one of the biggest clubs in the world.

 

If you kick 20 free kicks an hour for 4 hours a day you will hit 80 free kicks per day, if you do this for 5 days of the week you will hit 400 free kicks a week meaning in one year you will have hit 20,800 free kicks a year. In my opinion numbers don't lie and a player who hits over 20,000 free kicks a year is going to be a master at the free kick.

 

I also strongly believe that the way a coach interacts with a child, how feedback is given and what praise is given for are massive influences on how good a footballer a child can be. A great example of this is a study done by, professor in psychology, Carol Dweck. Carol took 400 youngsters and set them all the same task. After they had completed their task she gave them their scores and 6 words of feedback. She gave half of them talent based feedback, 'you must be smart at this' and the other half effort based feedback, 'you must have worked really hard'. She then set them all another task but this time, the task was so difficult that they all failed! There was a dramatic difference in how the youngsters took their results. The half praised for talent took their failure as proof that they weren't actually as good at the puzzles and tasks after all, whereas the group praised for effort, persevered with the task for longer, enjoyed it more and did not lose confidence in their ability to complete the tasks to the best of their ability.

 

The experiment then went full circle and Carol set a task of equal difficulty to the first task. The result were amazing! The group praised for talent's result suffered a 20% decline, even though it was no harder. The effort praised group showed a 30% increase in results! Failure had actually spurred them on.

 

So this shows that anyone with a positive attitude, the right encouragement and praise in the right areas anyone that practices enough and works hard enough can make it in the game. This is the main philosophy behind our 'Soccer Camps'. 12 hours positive, enjoyable and effort driven coaching, over the course of 3 days, can really make a difference to the ability of each and every one of the children attending.

 

Who knows, with the right attitude, hard work, our FA qualified coaches and our 3 day 'Soccer Camps' we may find the next Messi, Rooney, Ronaldo, Henry or Beckham right on our doorstep.

 

For more on the argument for hard work and inner desire over natural talent get a copy of 'Bounce' by former European table tennis champion Matthew Syed.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my first blog and i hope you will all be back for more in the very near future.

 

Steve H

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3 Comments

Reply Phil Hendy
12:19 PM on June 8, 2011 
Excellent article Steve. It definitely shows that practice helps. I do think you have to have an element of natural talent to become a master in your field (This advice applies to anything you do by the way!).

Practice and dedication is the key to honing that talent. Hopefully you will find the next Messi at one of your soccer camps, and even more hopefully they will sign for United :-)
Reply Terry Venables
2:10 PM on July 12, 2011 
So this shows that anyone with a positive attitude, the right encouragement and praise in the right areas anyone that practices enough and works hard enough can make it in the game.

You still need the talent and ability which is then harnessed and developed. To say the term anyone can make it is off the mark
Reply Steve H
8:22 AM on November 8, 2011 
Terry Venables says...
So this shows that anyone with a positive attitude, the right encouragement and praise in the right areas anyone that practices enough and works hard enough can make it in the game.

You still need the talent and ability which is then harnessed and developed. To say the term anyone can make it is off the mark


Fair point but where do you get the talent and ability?

Are you born knowing how to kick a ball, with the vision to go past players and pick a pass (make a correct decision) at the right moment or is this learnt? In my opinion it is learned over hours of practice and those that put in the most hours and dedicate themselves to learning everything they can and be the best they can will go far. I'm not saying that every child that partakes in the game and puts the hours in will be the next Messi, but i am saying that without the hard work and hours of practice no matter how much 'natural ability' a player has they will not make their way in the game.

Steve H