The below excerpt is from my new book called “Derby Day” available on Amazon.com
The book is a guide for coaches who want to gain those little needed advantages for the “Big Games”! “Derby Day contains 10 Rules to help you have success in those “Massive Games”!
Rule Number Two
Big Games Are Won From Day One
I firmly believe the groundwork for success starts the first day of training. If your program is run the right way, teaches players how to compete, focuses on sportsmanship and ethics, develops a strong positive team culture based upon respect and hard work, fosters a team spirit that is like a family, appreciates the programs history and teaches the mental side of competition then “Massive Games” become much more manageable. Great teams truly work together not just in the way they play but in the emotional support and motivation they supply one another. My friend who was one of the best players in the country in the 80’s & 90’s and now a highly regarded coach came into to address my team the night before the region championship game. His message was simple, “Soccer is a game that comes and goes in waves. The momentum will switch several times during the game and the only way you can turn it around is if everyone on the team works together to reverse the momentum.” I train my team to yell out “together” when we feel we are being outplayed and need to switch the momentum of the game back to us. We also yell “Check-In” to regain a high level of focus for things like defending set-plays or if we just score a goal and the other team is ready to offer a response. These seemly small details are put into our program from day one. The players are given tools like this so when “Big Games” come we are ready for whatever is thrown our direction. The other great piece of advice my friend had for the team was “make sure your personal life is in order”. Dealing with a “Big Game” is hard enough with zero distractions. It is crucial that all players and coaches energy is focused on match preparation along with ample relaxation time. If you are dealing with unwanted stressful situations in your life that could have been avoided, it will no doubt have an effect on your preparation and ability to perform. Players and Coaches need to do everything they can to avoid distractions and live their life in such away to avoid stress and problems.
Preparing for big games is not done the day before; it is done from day one.