Born With It or Not

Altan Ramadan Toffa Leave a Comment

Lionel Messi celebrates after his recent wonder goal against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa Del Rey final

The FIFA U-20 World Cup is promoted as the chance to see the world’s very best players before they become household names.

In 2022 will you be reminiscing about watching a young Brazilian player way back in 2015 as you watch them dominate on TV?

If you could assess the mindset of the young international footballers currently in New Zealand, your chances of making an accurate prediction would dramatically improve.

According to leading psychologist Carol Dweck’s ground-breaking research publicised in Mindset, individuals can have one of two approaches to learning.

Many of us have a Fixed mindset.  We believe that talent is “something you are born with” and people have “a gift” or not.  Human qualities are carved in stone.

These people tend to have a desire to prove that they are capable – often by regularly completing a well practiced task or role. Failure is feared, as perceived flaws are exposed.

Conversely, individuals with a Growth mindset have a different view on failure.  Setbacks are recognised as part of a learning process.  Those with a Growth mindset, treat new experiences as an opportunity to extend their capabilities and skills.

A Growth mindset recognises that everyone can improve with application and experience.  Potential is unbounded.

Clearly, constantly failing is not a pleasant experience, but often the greatest achievers among us, have a history of failure at different times in life. Perseverance often indicates the type of mindset that an individual possesses.  Do they dust themselves off and give it another go, remembering what they have learnt? Or do they give it away?

In society, we tend to love the people who are the very best, those who seem to have a God-given gift.  We value the natural, effortless accomplishment that the very best in the world can deliver.

The recent Lionel Messi wonder goal in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao, beating five players on an incredible slaloming run, is an example of such genius.

But what we don’t see, are the years and years of training and effort that has been expended in creating that one magical moment.

Yes, effort is not the only factor in becoming a top footballer.  Resources, opportunities, quality coaching, good advice and networks all make a difference.  But effort, and the desire to keep on learning new skills, is a big piece of the jigsaw.

Fortunately mindset can be changed.

The first step is to determine what sort of mindset a person has.  Instinctively does the individual believe that intelligence, a response to certain situations, or the ability to learn a new skill, such as public speaking, can be changed or not?

Once a player is aware of mindset, make a plan to either change it (if Fixed) or maximise it (if Growth).  Instilling a Growth mindset in a young footballer sets the individual up for success.

Welcoming constructive criticism as a chance to improve and recognising that success is about learning, are core elements of change.  Particularly important, is the ability to work hard and respond positively to challenges.

Parents and coaches have an important role to play in establishing a Growth mindset in young players through the use of language.  Praising effort, perseverance, and learning new skills, cultivates positive attributes.

By remembering to focus on the process of learning new skills, a young player learns the lessons that can be applied to all areas of life, not just their football development.

Top Flight Football Academy is committed to developing a growth mindset in each of our athletes through focusing on effort and commitment.  Regular, positive feedback from parents about their children’s improved learning skills in both the classroom and home environments, as these qualities become embedded, is testament to this approach.

For more information, pick up a copy of Mindset from your local library or bookshop.

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