I believe there are ideas, concepts that worth sharing. A few month ago I found a facebook page, that was so extraordinary compared to other football analysis sites. Its material is so clever, pure education. Later I decided to make an interview with the author of the page, and this article is the result. I hope everyone who reads this, is going to be as excited as me, when I was first reading his work. Here is the link for his site: Mindfootballness. Enjoy and follow him!
- We agreed before, that our discussion is going to be about your ideas, and concepts, but I would like to ask you to introduce yourself in short. How did your carrier begin, and please highlight a few milestones from it?
SM: I’m just a football coach, born and raised in 1990 in Oleśnica/Bierutów, Poland. I’ve started to be interested in coaching when I was 20, but back then, I wasn’t interested in just a coaching course so I decided to educate myself during university studies. Soon after that, I’ve become a football coach in Oleśnica’s Football Academy and in 2014 I graduated Bachelor’s level in two specializations: Football Coaching and Sport’s Management at Wroclaw’s Higher School of Management and Coaching. Since that point, all things started to develop very dynamically. I didn’t want to be just a regular football coach working on schemes, so I wanted to keep developing by connecting psychological methods into football trainings. In 2016 I graduated Master’s level on Human Resources and Coaching. During my work with youths, cooperating with teachers and their parents I could notice great reaction from their side. Many good opinions from parents, and teachers that kids started to change for better. They were much more disciplined, peaceful, aware and ready to work harder not only on trainings, but on school classes. It was a sign for me to build up my knowledge and continue learning about psychology and cognitively on my own in cooperation with teachers and therapists, so in 2017 I decided to graduate special Pedagogical Course For Teachers, and start to share my knowledge through Mindfootballness page. In the beginning of 2016, with my friends we started our own club, Oleśnica’s Foundation Of Sport’s Developement, and we became an operator of Soccer Services Barcelona (Ekkono Method) in Poland. This year we’ve been merged with the oldest club in region – Pogoń Oleśnica
- How can you imagine yourself in the next 10 years, how is your story going to be continue?
SM: It’s difficult to say, since I’m always trying to stay focused on here and now. I want to keep improving myself through being a coach and develop Mindfootballness projects. For me, personally, there is no better way to improve as a coach, than responsible and aware work with footballers. You’re giving and receiving at the same time, even by observing. I want to improve the level of understanding the football among every interested groups, but also, my target is to work in south-eastern Asia.
- Lets talk about your philosophy, what are the essential elements of your work?
SM: I always repeat to my players – the way you train, your work, is the way you play. Main point of my training sessions is to create conditions as close and similar to match conditions, as it’s possible. Also the way of communication, very often skipped by coaches, plays a crucial role in the whole training process. You can have as much knowledge as you can imagine, but if you will not be able to share it with your players, for them to understand you, the quality of your work will not be 100%. Players must trust you, and You must trust your words if you and your team have to look in the same direction. Players must recognize what are your expectations and what is the next step you will take together. For that, there is no other way than communication. I will put an article about it soon on my page. Another important step, for me, are different variations of the games, that should create the problem that players must solve through their cognitive and decision process. It is very important to spare one training session to one specific training content and the level of the training games should be strictly suitable to the level of the group. But this is the matter that every coach should judge by himself. I would like to say more about it, but this topic is too extensive to limit it into the few words, and also I don’t want to sell know-how.
- What is its relationship psychology, cognitive methodology of work and football?
SM: I will say it this way: fear is fear, limits are limits, mind is mind. Outside conditions are changeable, on the training and during the match. However if you can control your mind through awareness, is there anything else you must control?
- Please recommend some sources for your work, if somebody interested in this field, how can he start to study it?
SM: There is no one right and correct way that guarantees You to become good coach. I am not saying that I am, but I try to work in the most satisfying way, not listen „on faith” and not copying from anyone. I want to create my own way. Mindfootballness is a philosophy „to be” and „to work with”, than the way of studying some programs. I want to recommend to everyone to develop THEMSELVES as a coaches or players than seeking for the help and prepared solutions from others. There should be as much YOU as possible in the way you work. Watch games, read books about psychology or philosophy that will let you grow, more than books about other coaches and footballers. Everyone is different. Don’t be the „second hand” coach or player. Express yourself. I like to observe people, observe games and SEE. Understand as much as possible so through that, I can express myself later.
- What is the most important skill in football? What is the decisive factor between the average player and the outstanding one?
SM: More important than a skill, I find the attitude to work, preparation to sacrifice and self-discipline. If you have a talent, but You’re not ready to work hard, to stay focused, aware and modest in the way you are – you have no chance to become great. You can be a „pro” and have money, but you will not stay great. If you don’t have much talent, but you are ready to work on your abilities, work on your mind and you will be consequent – I am sure that you can be great. Even if you will not play in the top class team. It can seem to be cruel, however it’s mine point of view. Being an outstanding player is a way, rather than a point to achieve. How you, as a player or a coach can describe the „greatness”? Are there any outside conditions of judgement? Many goals as a kid, then disappear because of the irresponsible way of life? Or working hard, till you will overcome your limits and YOU will think about yourself as a great?
- How can your approach help the developement of your players? Especially in youth level?
SM: For me, during the work, the most important aspect is to learn youths how to train and how to work hard because to come and train is not enough if player is not aware of what, how and for what purpose he works. During the training process, very important is to use your time in the maximum level and effort. Every player has his own limits that he must be aware of and try to overwork them. As I said – the way you work is the way you play. As a coach, I prefer to train with many variations of the games. I don’t want my players to stand in the lines and work with cones, waiting for their turn. Cone will not try to take the ball from you and counterattack. This analytical methods are good at the initiation stage and coordination, I agree, however every technical-tactical aspect should be trained at the conditions it must work at the highest level. I create conditions, opportunities and obstacles that player must learn how to solve ON HIS OWN. As a coach – I am the partner in the journey, willing to help with some kind of advises but I never want to give prepared solutions to my players. If I will tell you – you will do it once and You will forget. If I will help you a little, so you can find solution that works – you will remember how and when you should use it. It is a really valuable knowledge. But this process is hard to respect. As a coach – sometimes you can feel frustrated seeing your players to struggle, making similar mistakes. You must be aware of when, how and which question or advice you should help your players. That is the most profitable in a long-term strategy for me.
- What do you think, in point of your view and your ideas, who is the best player to be the role model for youths? Who is the best to learn from?
SM: We are living in the times of showmen football – fancy haircuts, boots and celebrations after the goal. It is natural that this kind of players are being role models for youths, however, personally I always try to recommend for my players to, during watching the game in the television, to focus on particular player that plays on your position. It depends on what you try to see, what behaviors and decisions you want to notice and analyse. Every youth player can learn a lot from such classic and mature players like Andrea Pirlo, Andres Iniesta or Xavi Hernandez. Players, that are not being famous from commercials or they life outside of the stadium. Those players are inspiring me every time I watch them play because of the way they try to perceive the game and the decisions they’re making. What is important on this moment on the pitch? Where is the ball / player? Ball is not the danger itself. There are many other things that players must be aware of. Which information is crucial for me to perform in the right way? That are essentials and details that separate good from the best, as well as emotional balance. We should find some role models, but never in order to become a copy.
- Please give some insight, why did you choose him? Can you analyse his play a bit more briefly?
As I said in the previous question – they are mature players that are dictating the tempo of the whole team. They know when to stay calm and construct the game, when to use the dose of emotions to „heat up” the tempo. They are not only looking, but they always try to SEE – which can be decisive difference for the team. I want to point that, they are not very athletic, strong and fast players, but already they are one of the best on their positions, brining great quality to the whole team. Some of their action, we can already see analysed on Mindfootballnes page.
- What is the future of football? What is the next step?
SM: I am not sure of what my next step will be, so how would I know about football. I want to help at as many places, countries and clubs that I can and what can I see is that football unites people. No matter of religions, believes, nations or whatever. I see the higher values that football gives to people. I really like to say to my players – good person is a truly good sportsman, no matter on what level. We should remember that football starts in head, and finishes in the foot.
- Finnally, please summarize our discussion, what did we learn and if you want to leave a message to the audience you can do it now.
No matter on what level, as a player or coach, the most important aspect are not the games you are working with, but the way how you are working. Your own way. Call it philosophy, methodology, names are not important. We can not close the football in words. So that is Mindfootballness. Not a fan page or a name for methodology. For me, Mindfootballness is a state of YOU – being, working and looking for the best solutions for yourself during your developement process. Don’t look for it outside, in your feet. Be it inside, like a Pirlo, Iniesta or Xavi – they played inside, to perform on the outside.