Hamilton Aiming To Be The Best
It might not have been the most glamorous transfer of this January but West Ham's move to sign
Hamilton Academical right back Stephen Hendrie on a pre-contract (they will eventually pas £1 million for him) was interesting nevertheless.
The reason us that Hendrie, like a big part of Hamilton's players, came through their youth system that had previously produced James MacArthur and xxxx xxxx. Indeed, Hamilton were at the forefront of a revolution that is taking place in Scottish football where an increasing number of clubs are putting their faith in their academy.
Two years ago, I interviewed Frankie McAvoy, the man heading their youth set up, about the way that they did things. At the time the club was in the Scottish First Division and struggling a bit. Despite that, the faith they had in their young players shone through and now they're reaping the benefits with a great season in the Premier League.
Despite the time that has elapsed since the publication of that interview, the methods and ideas it contains are very much still valid.
Mental Blocks and How To Overcome Them
Over recent months I have been taking an interest in the mental side of a player's development having come to realise that this is a crucial element for anyone who is looking for longterm success. Indeed, I am currently kicking off a project that will talk at length about this (but more about that at a later date).
Not every coach is lucky enough to work at a club where there is a sports psychologist at hand but there are enough resources available on the internet to ensure that people can build enough of a knowledge base.
This piece is a good example of that and a great primer as it provides a good description of what mental toughness is as well as practical advice to anyone looking for relief from the psychological blocks that can prevent from performing at one's optimal level.
Only 3-Pointers and Layups: The Rio Grande Valley Vipers
I do not know a lot about basketball but I do know that a lot of basketball coaches frown at players taking three-point shots (or when they take them). So it was interesting to see this short documentary about a coach who does the opposite and actively encourage his players to take such shots.
What is particularly interesting, however, is the reason behind this decision. It isn’t simply down to a hunch but rather there is a statistical reason for him to adopt that strategy. Whether it might be successful or not, I can’t really tell (the documentary says that the team has one two championships in the last three years but that depends on the quality of the opposition) but it raises the question of whether football coaches are doing the same.
There is, for instance, research that shows that punting corner kicks into the box very rarely results in a goal. Are there coaches willing to risk stopping doing that?
The Icelandic Football Model. An exclusive interview with the FA's Technical Director
When people look for examples of systems that are effective at developing talent they tend to limit their search to nations like Holland or Portugal who have a long tradition in this respect. Naturally, this makes sense because they have produced so many great talents that there is almost a guarantee over the validity of their systems.
At the same time, however, doing so means that people are missing out from learning from those other countries who might not have the similar long standing tradition but who have shown that they know how to do things. Countries like Uruguay, for instance, have achieved results that bigger and richer countries can only dream of.
Iceland might not be at that stage but this country has made huge advances over the past two decades evolving from one of Europe’s minnow to within touching distance of making it to the World Cup finals.
In this interview Jon Townsend talks to Arnar Bill Gunnarsson, the Director of Education for the Icelandic Football Association, about how they have achieved this transformation offering plenty of ideas for anyone looking for a fresh perspective.
Why coping with the media is essential for any ‘wonderkid’
I hate the term ‘wonderkid’. Far too often those who are given this label end up unable to justify expectations, with careers that rarely match what had been predicted they could achieve.
That, however, does not mean that the gist of this article doesn’t hold true. Indeed, an player who looks set to play the game on a professional basis needs to have some media training in order allow him to really develop. Those who fail to do so will inevitably struggle when the glare of the media turns on them and this, in turn, they will never be able to perform at their best if there is a part of them that is worried about the media.