3 Steps to Building Confidence

Here are three simple steps to help you develop confidence: By Dan Abrahams

1. Use your memory. Possibly my number one tool for developing confidence is to take time out every day to remind yourself of you at your best. This should comprise your personal highlights. You might include games you’ve played well in, or training sessions when you’ve been on fire.

Whatever you include in your daily reel of inner images, make sure you make your mental movie big and bold and bright. Enhance your images by asking yourself these questions:

“What does my very best look like?”
“What does my very best feel like?”
“What do others see when I play at my very best?”

2. Just as it’s important to exercise your memory, it’s vital to use your imagination. I’d like you to take time every day to picture your dream game. And when I say ‘dream game’, I don’t just mean you at your best, I mean you surpassing your best. I mean you being quicker and stronger. I mean you showing Lloyd-like ball control, Neuer-like bravery in goal or Ramos-style defending.

“What does 10/10 look like? Feel like? What does 12/10 look like? Feel like?”

This is your opportunity to make your images unrealistic. It’s your chance to feed your brain a mental map of excellence that surpasses your current game. By doing so you create a blueprint on your mind to strive for. Don’t sweat the bad moments, the mistakes made so much. Focus your mind securely on the future standard you want for your game.

3. Finally, the third tool in my confidence toolbox is perception!

Mistakes WILL happen. You WILL have bad games. You WILL PROBABLY get dropped at some point. You MAY get injured. Bad stuff happens in soccer, it’s inevitable, and that’s ok. Accept the tough times, the bad games, the hairy moments. Be patient. Be persistent. Learn from them, but don’t dwell on them.

“I know I’ll make mistakes…that’s ok. I may be slightly disappointed when I do, but my job is to carry on playing, to carry on working at my game, to carry on getting the most from my ability”.

Great soccer players are, in part, great because they accept the rough with the smooth. They accept that along their soccer journey there will be some tough times. That’s part and parcel of striving to find out just how good you can be in the game we love so much.

Amanda Blutig Discusses Team Chemistry

Amanda Blutig


Chemistry, a branch of science that studies the composition and properties of matter and the changes it undergoes. When one juxtaposes chemistry and a soccer team, the two end up being quite similar. In chemistry, there are millions of particles that make up a cell and, on a similar note; within a soccer team there are multiple players that make up a team. One may believe that my soccer team may be going through a phase change considering the team use to be something that was so solid but now has “melted”. A scientific explanation of this phenomenon may be, as tensions rise within the parents “heat/steam is given off” which has caused the team to diminish or melt. In order for a chemical reaction to work productively and efficiently, the goal of a soccer team, everybody must be on the same page. If one thing is off the chemical reaction will not proceed because it is not at equilibrium. To make the team/reaction run smoothly again temperatures may need to be dropped among the parents and tensions must seize to exist. I believe the team needs to return back to its solid phase in which it has a defined shape and all the particles/player are in strict order. Currently I believe as if the team is in a liquefied state where the particles are not compact and seem distanced. If the team can find a way to return back to its original solid state than I believe that we will be successful, yet again.

In soccer, as well as chemistry, bonds are broken. Bonds in soccer are broken when friendships, teams and trust in one another diminishes. In chemistry, bonds are literally broken amongst molecules. When breaking up a bond, energy needs to be put back into the compound. It seems to me as if everyone on the team, players and parents, have lost sight of what really is important (just enjoying the game), and have put in so much excess energy in the wrong direction, which in turn has caused bonds to break within the team. If there are hopes of rekindling theses broken bonds everyone needs to make a joint effort to use their energy in a positive way to help redirect the direction of the team. If we all work cohesively in a unit stable covalent bonds will be able to be formed among the team and we will soon be a functioning compound.

On a non-scientific note in order to help change the direction this team is going we must-

Put our differences aside and play like a team on the field
Make an improved effort of getting to know each other individually
Forget about drama among the parents and turn the negative energy from the parents into positive energy for the game
We all must come ready to play at every game; we can not pick and chose when we want to play
At practice, we need to stay focused because what we do at practice will translate to the game
Everyone must make their best effort to attend every practice because if people are continuously not coming, this will throw off team chemistry because you will not know what we have been learning at practice

2+2=5? Personality of a Team

OF course 2+2 does not equate to 5. But I believe the sum should always be greater than its parts, just like the teams I work with.

A few years ago I was asked to present to a group of coaches and discuss “Team Chemistry” and the importance of understanding all the different pieces that make the whole. I began by telling the group that much like a jigsaw, there needs to be an image of what the finished product should look like before we begin to put the pieces together. However, unlike a jigsaw our pieces don’t always come with compatible edges that seamlessly slide together to collectively form the finished product.

Rinus Michels, the creator of total football said “Teambuilding is a theoretical, well structured process in which the coach has to understand the logical cohesion between the parts – like a mechanic with a car.” He’s not wrong – imagine having to drive your car with no engine, or not having windshield wipers when its raining. If you’re able to picture that, now picture what your team would like without the physical and motivational engine you have playing in the center of the pitch – Who happens to be the driving force of encouragement, who barks their orders out like a drill sergeant, fueling the rest of the team with their positive words and actions. Or the holding midfielder who sweeps away any problems before they happen and breaks up the flow of the opponent, allowing the back four to breath a little easier.

These are just two roles that I look to fill on the teams I coach. But…it may not always be possible to find the player who can identity with being a turbo charged v8 engine with fuel lines that extend to all the other players. So what do I do to fill that void? I understand the personalities of the players I have, what characteristics and traits each has and what they bring to the team dynamic. Then the process can begin.

Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) wrote about the character ethic vs the personality ethic. He discusses the personality ethic as opposed to character as the driving force behind an individual’s success. The way we dress, interact with others in social settings, have a positive mental attitude along with skills and techniques needed in our line of work, etc. What I find interesting about that, is we may find ourselves so caught up in what the perception of our personality should be, that we lose sight of who we really are. Each person on a team brings so much more than their personality to the fold. It’s who they are today and who they’ll one day become that I look for when putting the pieces together. I want players who are not afraid to learn from mistakes and listen to their teammates advice, who can manage situations without seeking help from the coach, who are self critical and self aware, and have a commitment to their individual growth and development. Recognizing how important self-motivation is, I bring the players together and discuss the process of what motivates them. We go over the three components of motivation – 1. Activation 2. Persistence 3. Intensity, and we see how our core values relate to the three. I want the team as a whole to remain focused and motivated on the day to day process and not any expected or desired future outcomes. Our target is always to know more today than we did tomorrow, to do the small things right and let the bigger picture on the front of the box take shape.

Managing different personalities is never easy, but I have found one of the simplest ways to do so is by listening. Understanding my players, their needs, their habits, and what drives them allows me to help them as individuals, but also see how best to use them in the team dynamic. I allow my players ownership of their team, and in doing so I see relationships forged and a sense of team identity soon follows. I merely set the conditions  by creating an environment where everyone has equal roles and responsibilities, and I demand a go-for-it atmosphere during training. I encourage players to ask questions of themselves and look for and offer positive feedback. The challenge is not so much adapting as a coach to cater to so many different personalities, its getting them to believe that their strength lies in their diversity. David Nolan, a close friend and the Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Georgetown University wrote the following “Team Chemistry is an intangible that separates all great teams from good ones. It ranks up there alongside talent as one of the primary ingredients of being successful. As a coach I try to invest as much time as possible building the chemistry on my team.” 

Chemistry (chem.is.try) 1. the branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed; the investigation of their properties and the ways in which they interact, combine, and change. 2. the complex emotional or psychological interaction between two or more people.

Thoughts? Ideas? Please share, its makes us all better.2013 NPL National Champions




What Makes a Good Coach?

What makes a good coach? List the top five qualities of a good coach.

This question was recently posed to myself and other coaches listed below by my good friend and colleague, Chris Panayiotou from Virginia Rush.

Sam Snow – US Youth Soccer Coaching Director
Vince Ganzberg – US Soccer National Staff Instructor
Dr. Roy Patton – Director of Soccer Genius
Darran Bowles – English FA
Paul Shaw – VYSA Coach Education / US Soccer National Staff Instructor
Brett Jacobs – US Soccer National Staff Instructor / Former Colorado Rapids Coach
James Charette – US Soccer National Staff Instructor
Ken Martel – USA Hockey Technical Director US National Team Development Program
Tom Goodman – US Soccer National Staff Instructor
Tom Statham – Manchester United Academy Coach

With such an amazing wealth of knowledge among the coaches included in the email, I was eager to see the responses and also share mine. I’ve listed just some of the responses below, and included some of my own thoughts on what makes a good coach. Its clear from reading the responses that being a good coach isn’t a one size fits all model. It’s putting the pieces of the puzzle together knowing that the picture on the box will change.

Tom Statham – Manchester United

  1. Care about his or her players
  2. Be able to connect and communicate
  3. Treat people with respect
  4. Have a knowledge of the game
  5. Create an environment of enjoyment and learning

Tom Goodman – NEFC Technical Director / US Soccer National Staff Instructor

  1. Sense of humor
  2. Knowledgeable
  3. Ethical/Moral/Honest
  4. Encouraging
  5. Respectful

Chris Panayiotou – Virginia Rush Developmental Director of coaching

  1. Confident and confidence builder
  2. Observer and organizer
  3. Approachable, always learning
  4. Continually growing, competent
  5. Hard working, humble and honest

Vince Ganzberg added to the COACH pneumonic

O – other-centered
C – care, checks for understanding

A quality of any good coach is the ability to transfer knowledge into understanding

Darran Bowles – English FA Regional Manager

  1. Create and maintain an environment which encourages players to learn and love the game
  2. Care for their players
  3. Have a sound knowledge of the game
  4. Keep things clear and simple
  5. Treat everyone with respect

Dr. Roy Patton – Soccer Genius Director
For the coach of young adult players

  1. Maturity and experience
  2. Ability to build consensus – internal/external
  3. Ability to use jurisprudential argument and to be consistent
  4. High level of coaching experience and coaching ability
  5. Be an excellent and relentless recruiter

Sam Snow – US Youth Soccer Coaching Director
Good coaching and coaches U6-U10 “Open the door to a lifetime of soccer”

  • Lay the foundation of: Fair Play, Game Sense, Healthy Lifestyle, Skills
  • Guide players learning to interact with others: Teammates, Coach, Team Manager, Referees, Opponents, Spectators
  • Guide parents on their child’s soccer journey: How to be a guest at the game / Off the ball habits / Commitment / Punctuality / Responsibility / Nutrition:Hydration / Proper sleep and recovery
  • Coach must lead by example: Control Emotions / Verbal and Body Language / Sportsmanship

Steve Davis

“Coaching is…Breathing life into what you do. Taking the time to develop and assemble a way in which you can be authentic but still challenge yourself and your players. Good coaches make a difference in the lives of others, they know when a smile can be just as productive as words, they are the kind and caring individual who’s words of encouragement will will be heard years after they’ve been whispered. Good coaches take players on a journey to places they’ve never been on before. Good coaches keep players engaged, enthusiastic, and build confidence. They create treasured memories that will last a lifetime, they share their passion and experiences, but always continue to learn. They set standards, relate to others and their needs, they listen so they can understand their players, and good coaches handle pressure knowing experience and optimism will get them through. All coaches enjoy success, but good coaches know how to handle failure and learn from it, and more importantly find the teachable moments in it.

Trust and Integrity builds relationships and maintains team chemistry, and good coaches know that treating everyone equally is the beginning of making each experience fun, meaningful, and educational. They allow their players to take ownership of their individual and team development, and through the process of encouragement, accountability, and facilitation, players start to become teachers and mentors for themselves and their teammates. Good coaches know that teaching and instilling these qualities will help the young children they work with enhance their life skills along with their soccer skills, and there is no better reward for a coach than that.”