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STEP UP! – Mental Preparation for Higher-Level Struggles in Team Sports, Episode 2: “Self-Oriented” Personality Types in the Higher Leagues

The new challenge, a higher level of compliance from athletes with different personality types, brings about different reactions. Completely different mental mechanisms can be observed in the rookie teams, but no matter how different the mechanism is, the end result is still very similar mentally. And that’s when the “smart professional opinions” emerge about that guys or gals are scared of the big moments. And with this attitude, poor situation management begins, which ends in total failure and relegation.

The self-oriented mentality

Basically, we need to distinguish two directions in terms of mental assessment in this area: “self-oriented”, i.e., self-interested or self-serving players, and “team-oriented,” i.e., unselfish, team-centric players. If we look at things specifically in terms of a new tournament, plus being in a higher division, we can say that there are huge differences between these two types. The self-oriented types are excited for the higher division. Since status and image are extremely important to them, we might imagine that they would leap this hurdle without a problem, as being promoted to a higher class is clearly a status-enhancing factor; bragging about playing in the top flight has a completely different impact. But unfortunately, this does not always hold true, and we often see the opposite phenomenon. For many self-oriented players, gaining recognition in a smaller environment, being the biggest fish, is their main motivation. The second division might have been a smaller pond, but at least there they were kings. Each match meant another coronation, and thanks to that, they felt great. Of course, they are attracted to the higher league, but at the same time, the higher division means danger, as they can easily become go from kings to pawns, and they fear this transition. So, despite the fact that these personality types can excel during crises and are not afraid of change, they are most worried about their image. In most cases, this phenomenon is also a serious problem for national teams, where players who are the stars in their clubs might not stand out among their nation’s greatest. Even if they are an important player, they are not the only defining element of the team. But they love that. The self-oriented types are the Ruler and Individual. The Individual comes out of this situation faster and better. For Rulers, this is a serious process, the duration of which depends largely on the secondary personality type of the given player. If they are Ruler-Individual, the process moves faster; if Ruler-Expert, the process is slower.

The Individual Start

That’s why it’s very important for a new team to have Individual players who are also self-oriented characters but don’t have their heads full of thoughts like “what will they say about me?” or “how can I preserve my image?”. Because of this, they can play more freely, of course in their usual, often unpredictable, mood-dependent way. But given our long-term experience, we can say that a new team starting in a higher division cannot succeed without Individual players. They are the ones who can motivate others, who can have a big impact on the fears and doubts of team-oriented teammates. First or second division, it does not matter to them, their main is concern is whether the stands will be full and whether they can enjoy the matches. Because the Individual loves new things, loves change, they enter the new championship with great momentum, assuming they do not get discouraged. How can this happen? Simply. It’s a fundamental mistake for coaches and those around them to want to prepare the team by saying regularly and very often that “it will definitely be different”. Drawing attention to the need to work more, to concentrate more, to suffer more. For the Individual, at least, the message is definitely suffering, even though they just want to enjoy the new experience. Many times, we find that the season hasn’t even started yet the enthusiasm of the Individual players has already been killed. And so, obviously that means the “smart professionals” will be right, and the “I told you so” may come. The irony is that their negativity was precisely what destroyed and undermined the team’s best chance for success: the zeal its most dynamic players.

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STEP UP! Mental preparation for higher-level struggles in team sports (Episode 1)