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STEP UP! – Mental preparation in team sports for higher-level struggles, Episode 4: The Control

One would think that control in sports is a simple task as the results speak for themselves. While this is fundamentally true, there are various ways to interpret results. Plus, manipulation and diplomacy are very effective in sports, and there are coaches that are especially adept at wielding these weapons. Thus, at the end of the first part of the season or championships, teams need objective professionals to evaluate the team’s performance. This is perhaps the most difficult challenge for a recently promoted squat.

A simple calculation

Because of momentum, expectations are huge. In sports, we need to imbue ourselves with confidence so that we can go after any task at all. Can you imagine what it takes for a team to actually play well when moving from a weaker league to a stronger one? Plus, there’s the issue of faith. After all, you can’t go out on the pitch without it. The only problem with faith is that it can easily blur our sense of reality, as real athletes can blindly follow their inner motivation, or the expectation that has been set for them. No matter how it’s articulated, the end result is the same: it is very difficult to find objective facts and milestones to evaluate a team, but if we don’t do that, the other teams will win out. How do we do all this? When it comes to objectivity, it means that we need an Expert attitude, that is, tables, numbers, data. But don’t make the process as complicated as an Expert would traditionally allow itself to be! It is important to look at processes at a strategic level. To do this, we need a solution that is as simple as possible yet based on numbers. And a traditional excel spreadsheet is perfect for this purpose. The emphasis is on the content anyway. What should such a table contain? On the one hand, it doesn’t hurt to prepare it in calm conditions before the tournament. It should indicate how realistically, based on our players, we are expecting the team to perform based on the known circumstances. A league ranking needs to be made where each team is placed in a suitable position. So we can perfectly see how the opponents line up against our team. Some people solve it by having their own team marked with a rating of “0”, and other teams assigned positive and negative values relative to this zero. So if we play a very close match with a “+10” team in both the league standings and abilities, something miraculous happened, even if we lose in the end. If, on the other hand, we tie at home with a team rated “-2”, the situation is different again. Then, this table that was completed before the season must be retrieved and examined after the first part of the season. In general, it is often said that serious conclusions can already be drawn from two home and two away matches, especially if our team has played against several teams with different scores on our scale.

Mental problems

Even the best professionals sometimes find it difficult to stop and examine the situation so easily. Especially when it goes better or worse in the league than expected, as this is when faith and momentum come and take the focus away from the evaluation. This control is especially critical for young teams, because even if the full scope of the players’ abilities is not yet certain, their results perfectly indicate their mental states. It is important to believe this result, to be able to put it in its proper place! If we have performed better as rookies, it means that our mental preparation has gone well; the team has either already been able to demonstrate their skills or is well on its way to putting 100% on the field for the rest of the season. If our rookie team falls short of expectations, there is a serious problem. Basically, in a league, a team wakes up late and doesn’t have to be in the lead after four matches for someone to win a league. However, in the case of newcomers, an unsuccessful start clearly indicates the next era of failure, as mental preparation has certainly failed. Everything may not work well tactically or physically, but there is definitely a mental issue. Moreover, this issue needs to be dealt with very quickly, because the league can go on and on, and the next period is where rapid psychological deterioration can occur.

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STEP UP! – Mental preparation for higher-level struggles in team sports, Episode 3: “Team-oriented” personality types in the higher leagues