Dan Abrahams is a global sport psychologist, working alongside leading players, teams, coaches and organizations across the world. He is known for his passion and ability to de-mystify sport psychology, as well as his talent for creating simple to use techniques and performance philosophies. He is also as the founder of the Dan Abrahams Soccer Academy. Dan currently works as a Consultant Sport Psychologist at a Premier League and a Championship club in England. He is the author of 3 bestselling soccer psych books (Soccer Tough, Soccer Tough II, and Soccer Brain). He also provides content for coaches and players on his Twitter page.
Be authentic: Passion is displayed in different ways. It may not require the traditional fist pumping, running onto the pitch set of behaviours that is the clichéd image of the passionate coach. Many quiet, unassuming coaches are highly passionate about their craft. They may not roar their commands from the sidelines, that may not be who they are as people. It may not be their style. But they may still use tone of voice, speed of delivery, and body language to get their point across in a passionate way. An emotive word can demonstrate more passion (and greater positive impact) than an overblown gesture.
Flexibility is key: Just as performance is part emotion, part intelligence, so is coaching. Passion must be mediated at all times by the intelligent brain. The part that reasons, that solves problems, that recognises errors in play. It was Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson who said he never let his heart rate go above the 100 mark for fear of making poor decisions. This may be a little extreme but it demonstrates the importance of keeping a clear mind for sound judgement. Passion can be a great vehicle for motivation – but not at the expense of entering the fog of excessive emotion.
Passionate about coaching: Everyone wants to win. Being passionate about winning is nothing new and certainly by no means unique. Passionate coaches should direct their passion onto the process of coaching, of improving players and developing a team. A passionate coach should love to build on the knowledge base they have as well as update their skills in the mental, physical, technical and tactical components of the game. Passionate coaches should also seek no stone left unturned to find ways to improve their players and team. Finding that small 1% and that extra edge is what coaching is all about.
Positive passion NOT panic passion: At the beginning of this season I sat in the stands at a Premier League club watching one of my clients play. During the game I spent a little time watching the behaviours of the coaching staff on both benches. I noticed a contrast in coaching behaviour. The bench of the team that was losing were frantically waving players this way and that and constantly barking out orders. This behaviour demonstrated panic, not passion. Your players can see this. Panicking on the sidelines will make them panic. Revolve your passion around positive behaviours rather than mistakes and negative score lines.
Dan has recently launched ‘The Dan Abrahams Soccer Academy’ – an innovative online resource that provides individuals, families, small groups, colleges, academies and clubs with a powerful soccer psychology programme. Players, coaches and parents are presented with tried and tested sport psychology techniques that are tailored to these specific roles and designed to be used together to develop mental skills in soccer. The Academy consists of fun, animated video sessions that help players, coaches and parents work together on the mental side of the game. You can read more about The Dan Abrahams Soccer Academy here.