How do we measure success?

“Soccer is not about scoring goals – its about winning.”  Anonymous

There are many ways to measure success, both in life and in soccer.  The standard measure of success is often the win/loss record of a team or player/manager.  But that is not how we should be measuring success.  So how can we be successful without relying on the scoreboard?  Setting personal goals can keep you motivated to succeed.

Before the game think of two or three tasks that you know, if completed, give your team a better chance of winning.  Make your goals specific so no gray area exists between completing or not completing them.  Make them measureable (i.e. complete 70% of passes) so you have something to aim for.  You have to make them attainable/realistic.  Scoring 5 goals is, in most cases, not something that is easily done.  You have to be able to predict the odds on completing your goals.  Making them too hard can frustrate you and make you push too hard to achieve them.  Making them too easy doesn’t drive you to work your hardest.  You also need to make them time bound.  You should make goals for each game, but you can also have goals that last the entire season.  Just be sure to set an end date to your goals to keep you on track for success.

The road to the Super Bowl

To reach the most important game of the year in football, a team, as well as its players, need to have certain characteristics that contributed to get them there.  Ability, nerve, desire, and luck are all necessary products to constructing a championship team.  With these, the New York Giants and New England Patriots were able to fight their way through the difficult NFL regular and post season to meet each other in the upcoming Super Bowl.

The four basic attributes (ability, desire, luck, and nerve) are a part of Iain Munro’s philosophy.  Ian is YSC’s UEFA Pro Licensed Academy Director/Coach and former Scottish National Team member.  He says that these four characteristics are needed for a player to get to the top, but it’s very similar for a team.  Teams definitely need the ability to win.  With thirty-two teams of professional athletes, there isn’t much of a gap between the ability of one team to another.  They most likely have all had the proper training and practice to get at the highest level, but what gives the experienced teams an edge is their nerve.

The teams with nerve, like the Giants and Patriots, learn from their mistakes.  Whenever they have a bad game they are able to turn that negativity into strength and positive energy.  Not everyone on the team may have this type of nerve, but the leaders of each team will be able to improve the players lacking in confidence.  According to their regular season record, the Giants weren’t the best in the NFC, but they had the confidence and belief that they were.  They were able to overcome mistakes made in the regular season; for instance, they lost to the Green Bay Packers in Week 13, but defeated them in the Divisional Playoffs.  Though, correcting mistakes and having confidence isn’t everything, if you don’t love the game you play, it’s very difficult to win.  This is known as desire.

Desire is inside.  A 17-week season plus playoffs can be draining both physically and mentally, but it’s the teams with desire that usually last longer.  The player’s bodies may be physically beaten down, but if their confidence and will to continue is still there, they will not quit until they reach their goal of winning a championship.  An example is the AFC championship game.  The Patriots were losing with about 10 minutes left, but they didn’t give up.  They had the desire to reach their 5th Super Bowl in 10 years and evidently scored and won the game.  Although, this game didn’t end like most; the Patriots needed a bit of luck to pull out the victory.

Luck was a part of the process that got these players where they are in the first place.  YSC’s Iain Munro gave a great example of this when he said, “A player could have nine great practices and one lousy practice and a scout could be at that one lousy practice and overlook the player.  But the opposite could happen as well and a player could have one excellent practice and nine lousy practices, but the scout saw that one excellent practice and chose that player over the other. It’s all a matter of luck.”  This is very similar on the path to the Super Bowl. Anything can happen on the field that can affect the outcome of the game.  Once again, in the AFC championship game, the Baltimore Ravens had a game-tying 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds left.  The kicker, Billy Cundiff, hadn’t missed a field goal that short all season, but hooked this one wide left to end the game.  The Patriots got lucky and that’s just one example.  The Ravens could have won the game with a simple pass that was dropped in the end zone just a few plays earlier.

Both Superbowl teams proved that they have the four attributes to reach the Super Bowl.  If a team or player has the ability, they are good.  If they have nerve and desire, they are great.  And if they have luck, anything is possible.  Even winning a championship.  Tune in this Sunday to see who is the luckiest.