England’s soccer manager and players’ coaching nuggets

You may be aware that England football has won through to the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup. In an exhilarating and tense game, they finally beat Columbia on penalties. In the post-match interviews, the team and Southgate, in particular, delivered a masterclass in coaching approach.


Stay in the process

The process is movement, what’s required to do the job in front of you. For example, if you are taking a penalty, you don’t think about the consequences of scoring or not scoring. Instead, you focus on your routine, where the ball is placed, the run up, the strike.

The players talked a lot about “staying in the moment”. Again, that’s about concentrating on the game right in front of you, not dwelling on the past or thinking about the result.

England played well at times, and in other periods of the game, struggled. That’s going to happen, for any team. The opposition will be doing their best to put you off your stride. Errors happen, luck fails. The key is to keep going back to the way you want to play, the plan that you set out.

In his book, Sevens Heaven, Ben Ryan kept telling his team to believe in their flow. It would come. Not always straight away. But it would come. England stuck to that.

Creating their own stories

Powerful brands have powerful stories. Think Coca Cola or Heinz or Kelloggs. It connects all those involved in a common purpose.

A great story is shared amongst friends and family.

For England, it’s clearly brought them together. They all talk the same language, believe in what’s important to deliver the best football they can produce.

Even if they fall in the next round, they will have been part of something special.

Lessons for us

  1. Help players focus on the moment in front of them, not the past or the future.
  2. The process achieves the outcome. What can help the players adjust?
  3. Connections come from shared experiences.
  4. Help players create their own stories, ones they can share with each other.
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