Juventus fans must have felt that they were staring down the barrel of a humiliating defeat after 20 minutes of the 2014/2015 Champions League Final.
A 4th minute strike from Croatian Ivan Rakitic in which every Barcelona player touched the ball in the build-up, had been followed by a compelling performance from the Catalan team. The Big Three of Messi, Neymar and Suarez were combining magnificently during the opening stanza with shots bombarding the Italian goal.
It appeared to be only a matter of time before a second goal would be scored.
But Juve hung in the match. They kept on going despite being comprehensively dominated and clawed their way back with a goal on the 55 minute mark. For a short period of time afterwards they even had the ascendancy before a flowing Barcelona counter attack resulted in Suarez making it 2-1.
Again Juventus refused to buckle and continued to look possible to take the game to extra time. However, Neymar made it 3-1 with the last kick of the game to give Barcelona a deserved victory.
While Barca was technically outstanding the resilience of Juventus was equally magnificent.
Learning resilience is an essential skill for a young footballer. This prized attribute directs how an athlete will respond to a difficult situation such as a mistake or poor personal performance. Resilience also flows into other areas of life such as school or moving to a new town.
Resilience is the ability to steer through adversity and bounce back. It is a skill that helps an individual reach their full potential.
Instilling resilience is no easy task but it can be achieved over time.
At Top Flight Football Academy two approaches are taken to build resilience in young players.
The first approach focuses on building emotional self-control or the ability to stay calm under pressure.
To achieve emotional control an individual has to learn impulse control. This is done by managing emotions when an error or setback occurs. There is nothing complicated about what to do, simplicity is key. A strong response involves taking a deep breath, focusing on the next task such as getting the ball back and not getting caught up in what has just happened. Ensuring a response plan is vital.
From a coaching perspective, this is the role that a coach should help fulfill.
Each player should understand their role and be receiving clear direction during a training session or match situation. Of particular importance for young players, are reminders of what they should be doing at a certain time so that they are well equipped in the event of an error.
This balance of emotional control and focusing on what to do next, builds resilience. An individual is able to get back on track after a difficult moment or event.
The second approach is designed to increase self-efficacy or confidence in a young player. Believing that you have control and the tools to respond positively is a core element of resilience.
A history of overcoming challenges and change builds this strength.
Practicising new skills, learning tactics and experiencing pressure situations at training develops self-efficacy. Both the Top Flight Football Academy and Soccer Italian Style programmes have challenging environments in order that young players build confidence and the knowledge that they can respond to adversity when required.
Both elements were at the heart of the performance by Juventus in the Champions League Final. Emotional control and confidence allowed the Turin club to tackle a tough situation and stay in the match, despite the best intentions of an excellent opponent.
The learnings and experiences of Top Flight footballers mean that they will also be able to display resilience in times of stress or challenge. This skill sets them up for success both in and outside the football arena as they develop.
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