At 1-0 up against Sevilla FC in the Europa Cup final Liverpool players knew what to expect from manager Jürgen Klopp at half time.
Klopp had effectively given the team talk days earlier at the final press conference before the Reds’ last Premier League game of the season. Asked if the match against West Bromwich Albion was a distraction Klopp reinforced the importance of what matters, is what happens in the now.
“If you want to be successful you have to be 100% in the situation that you are in this moment.
It is not about having 30% or 50% concentration for another thing. That is not how professional football works.”
Klopp was very clear. Players need to concentrate on what they are doing right now. They cannot be thinking about tomorrow, next week or next year. What matters is that they are focused on making each moment a success.
Unfortunately for the German, his players came out for the second half seemingly thinking the Europa Cup had been won. It hadn’t. Sevilla scored in just 17 seconds of the restart and went on to secure a comprehensive 3-1 victory to achieve a remarkable three-peat of Europa Cup victories.
From an attitude perspective Top Flight Football Academy players also need to learn that every second counts – be it when kicking a ball against the wall at home, at morning training sessions or on match day.
What matters most is what happens right now. Every second is a chance to progress.
Reflecting on the past is useful from a learning perspective as is having goals for the future. But when working with the ball, players need to be determined to maximise the opportunity of the moment.
The Little Things Count
Performance improvement comes from learning to do the little things right.
It’s not a linear process. Occasionally a player will seem to be regressing.
However, by focusing on making the most of every day a player can accelerate learning.
Being able to concentrate on what is happening now is a vital attribute for a young athlete. Beyond football, this attitude is immensely valuable for education and social activities.
Rather than sitting back after doing something well a young footballer should be encouraged to accept the challenge of the next moment. This approach helps to deliver great things as the individual begins to realise that every moment is an opportunity to get better.
This approach shouldn’t be confused with a player believing that every time they get the ball in a match they need to do something spectacular.
Instead, every time they have the opportunity to make a difference either with or without the ball, they take advantage of the moment. This could be as simple as providing a passing option to the ball carrier, making a short pass or tracking the run of an opponent.
At Top Flight Football Academy this approach is key to ongoing development.
Liverpool vs. Top Flight Environments
Unfortunately, given the demands of the professional sport environment it is possible that a couple of the Liverpool players who turned off the concentration switch at half time may not be at the club for the start of the next season.
Youth development is different – players have the opportunity to continue improving. But to do this they need ongoing support to ensure that they understand every day is an opportunity to better themselves.
The Anfield Wrap (TAW Player) podcast – final press conference audio 18/5/16
Finding Mastery podcast (Pete Carroll: Competing to be your best)
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