Professional football player: MACHINE OR HUMAN BEING?
In this article, I am expressing my viewpoint on the pre-season training camp of a professional football team: Slovan Bratislava taken place in Turkey. I started working with the team back in November last year.
„We have been here a long time mate... I am really tired: physically and also mentally. But I realize the importance of this camp... we are getting better each day, step by step I feel my own improvement as well as the improvement of the team... we are not machines, but we have to fight... I miss my family, my wife/girlfriend, son, daughter.... but in a second I realize that everything I am doing here in a camp, I am doing also for them...“.
Those are the answers many of the players were repeating to me while I joined the team after their 18th day of the camp.
What is the perspective of a mental coach regarding the 26th day training camp? Is it too much for the player´s psyche? How can he handle it with more ease? How can he keep persistance in his performance in training and consequent matches?
Those are the questions I was asking myself before the camp...
There is no exact prescription for happy and successful life. The same applies for the consistent performance of the individual and team as well. There is no general „how to“.
However if you point the players (and coaches) :) in the right direction- in the direction where our feelings are coming from and who we really are, this understanding will take care of it alone.
The best answer I have ever received from one of my mentors was: „If you feel insecure, nervous, tired, dismotivated.. etc., the best thing on a mental level is to do „NOTHING“.
The more you are trying to overcome the „bad“ feelings, the more time you spend „down“. The vast majority of people (including professional football players) are looking for the outside causes of their feelings. However there is only one cause of our feelings: ALWAYS! And this cause is THOUGHT in the moment.
So the feelings of insecurity, sadness, dismotivation, frustration are not caused by the training camp, by teammates, your coaches, your position in a team, food in a hotel, your past or future.
We as human are designed to feel only and always our thinking in a moment. So basically said: everything what we are thinking, we are feeling. And based on this feeling, we are creating our reality. That is it. It is that simple!
The question is: Do I have to consciously change my thinking in order to feel better? (e.g. motivated?). No, just „STAY IN THE GAME“ (favourite expression of Garret Kramer), always look for the source of your experience (100% of our feelings are made of thought), do not look at the sympthoms- your feelings.
The less you try to interfere, the more time you spend in a „space“ full of motivation, trust, compassion, self-confidence and love!
Does a professional football player have a choice to deliberately choose good feelings over the bad ones? No, he does not! (as other human beings as well).
However when he sees that his feelings are not connected to something/somebody outside, the „system“ will bring him back to the present moment. Moment where everything is happening. The only moment that exists. If you stay in a present moment, you are more likely to enjoy the rest of the camp: those were my words towards the players seeking further motivation and enjoyment in the last days of the pre-season camp. As soon as our mind gets lost in the past or future creating insecure feelings, we can easily bring our attention back to the present moment: simply by understanding what is happening „behind the scenes“. :)
Well, is a professional football player a machine or a human being? Without any doubt, he is a human being with all those ups and downs, willing to do everything to improve his performance day by day!
It could sound as a cliché, but if it is easy, everybody would do it! But it does not have to be that difficult if you deeply realize the principles behind the human experience.