Resilience is the key: Development Diary 8

It really does seem like an age since we played a game and in football season terms it is – October.

Training has taken place every week though and progress has been made in the meantime, but sadly it’s not as evident as can be seen in competitive games, results and performances.

It has been a very frustrating period as I can clearly see the fruits of the training in sessions. The improvement in scanning, decision making, technique and reaction to transition are all there to see but we’ve not put into competitive practice.

Games have been cruelly called off at late notice through a combination of rain and ice and on two occasions when teams could not fulfil the fixture. On these occasions much effort has gone into making sure we have the strongest squad possible, the team know the game plan in advance and all the other planning and logistics that go into getting 15/16 fit players to a location at the same time.

The league whas ‘rewarded us’ with 3-0 walkover wins which at least we have had a laugh over as Paula is claiming them on her ‘clean sheets’ stats, as you imagine that has provoked much comment particularly from me as she wasn’t even available for one, but it’s all in good humour and shows the positive morale the squad still have.

This mindset of still training hard and putting yourself forward for selection brings me to the main theme of today’s Development Diary and the focus on resilience as a key quality in football for players, coaches, teams and even some might say for the diehard fans who keep coming week after week whatever the result.

The Oxford dictionary describes resilience as :-

  • The capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties
  • ⁠the ability of a substance to spring back into shape

This resilient mindset has been key of late to keep the Dev/NB squad together as a group, particularly when by contrast M1T and W1T have played almost continually in no small part due to the hard work and diligence of the incredible ground work team at the Old Spotted Dog Ground.

Instead of games, for the last 10 weeks the players have had to make the best of weekly two-hour training sessions and then deal with the disappointment and anti-climax of a strong squad being ‘All revved up with nowhere to go’ when the games are routinely called off.

Whilst 3-0 walkover wins might help you win a league, that win is worthless and hollow in the long run. As a squad we want to be tested, we want to have to bring our ‘A’ game to compete. I genuinely feel sorry for this squad who work so hard in training but do not have the opportunity to show how good I know they are.

This is where resilience is needed individually and collectively, football moves in cycles and myself and the players have to be back at training the next week as focused as ever on the next game. It takes tons of resilience and a positive mindset to forget about the past disappointments and focus purely on the future.

Ironically the other definition of resilience has also played a major part of our training sessions in recent weeks. I would loosely translate it as ‘the ability of a team to spring back into the most effective shape upon transition of the ball being won or lost in play (almost an elasticity to team shape).

The elasticity is part of we what do in training during almost every session and is key at all levels of football. There is an element of this in almost every drill we put on in training, dealing with transition quickly and efficiency in all sorts of situations players might encounter in a match.

A good coach tries to simplify this as much as possible, my definition would be give width and depth by our positions when we have the ball, changing to being as compact as possible when we don’t to make us hard to play through.

Hope readers have enjoyed this attempt to show the bigger picture of what goes on behind the scenes and a coaches thinking and congratulations to all my players who amaze me week after week with their dedication and commitment in training under difficult circumstances.

Hopefully much more football to report on next time and a belated Happy New Year to you all.

Regards, Neil