Preseason has arrived for many of us and a new unwritten few months awaits. With every circumstance uniquely different from the next, expectations may be very different for a squad over the next few months. Certain squads are looking to build on a successful season last season. Others may look to formulate the traditional success of past years. Rising teams will want to continue their momentum forward and avoid the failures of their pass. Squads who may be coming off unsuccessful campaigns in previous seasons are looking to build a foundation for success in the next few months. Whatever the situation may be, in order to build a successful team identity for this upcoming one major point must be understood. The history of the team, school, or program must be totally forgotten in order to forge a completely unique identity for the existing squad that is about to take on the new season.
Every season most teams approach the season with the mindset that they are to look to the past for answers to the future. Essentially looking to repeat some facet of what has come before, in order to replicate the success that was seen previously. Whether it was by teams of the past within the organization, rival teams of the past that they may have competed against, or teams at higher levels who have seen past success. This attempt at replication removes the ability to form a true identity as a squad, as the comparison to a team who reached the pinnacle of achievement will constantly be made. Think of Lebron James taking the number 23 jersey number early in his career as the Michael Jordan comparisons still lingered. This lack of personal identity limited a player to only achieving what a predecessor who was much different in almost every facet to the current number 23. This need for replication of past success and avoidance of past failures limits will also limit the current squad at a soccer club or program to only what has been done before. Until the past is forgotten by coaches and players involved and an individual unique identity is formed by the players currently in the squad, there will be a struggle to reach new heights and limits.
The reason we look at history is because we are trying to achieve something greater than what came before. We are working towards a new emergence and thought as a species and what has came before in history are reminders of how far we have come as humans. So really we are looking to the past for examples of what has come before, in hopes of working towards something better tomorrow. There are lessons to be learned from our past experiences, but once these lessons are learned and a new mindset is developed based upon our individual life experiences, constantly reminding ourselves of our past failures or past conquests is essentially our previous mindsets trying to limit our personal development.
I am sure you can think of examples of people you encounter who always bring up the past events in an attempt to revisit these previous mindsets. Whether they were positive or negative these memories always allow for the person to revisit the feelings they felt at that point in their life. Always revisiting these past events of glory or conquest builds feelings that the past needs to be replicated in exact fashion in order to achieve the previous level of success. It also limits the success of the current squad to level previously seen, uncharted territory becomes a place where the visitors are merely onlookers enjoying the ride.
By building an identity of the squad that is currently present at the club or program, and forgetting the past, we look to achieve the pinnacle of glory within the sport. Whether it is a league championship, a World Cup, a Champions League trophy, or a high school state championship. The second you achieve a championship or whatever the pinnacle of success may be for the team, the past fails to be relevant all together. All viewpoints now focus on the now, rather than the past, or the future. Being able to enjoy a championship is one of the best feelings in this existence all due to the focus on the present. Mainly due to the respect and glory the championship has brought to the victors. This is a feeling that is hard to recover from if the team needs to compete the next season, thus why winning back to back championships is a very difficult task. Spain struggled after reaching the pinnacle of success in the 2014 World Cup, the squad visibly lacked the drive that was so prevalent in their previous successes in the Euros and 2010 World Cup.
Think of each new season as a life cycle. For life to exist there needs to be the proper structures in place to provide the opportunity for life to be successful. The organizing federation, the team and league the team plays in, whether it be youth, college, or professional team has provided the necessary structure that has provided life conditions for a team to exist this upcoming season. The coaching staff and administration has also provided the team with the necessary conditions for a team to successfully compete in the upcoming season. Think of this a the shell of the seed that is planted in the ground, waiting to blossom the next few months into a crop of success, failures, and experiences that will make up the 2016 season.
The DNA makeup of the seed that is planted has to do with the makeup of the squad itself at the start of the season. Players based on their current mindset, ability, and motivations are contributing to the makeup of the seed that is going to grow. The coaching staff must look to nurture the seed and make it grow into a successful plant that will hopefully thrive in the world as something beautiful, tested, and good. The DNA of the team has never before been seen before until right now, there was never a team before in history with the build up that resembles the current squad you have. Finding similarities to successful squads of the past are encouraging, but coaches and players alike must be aware that there is a unique identity that must be realized to the current group.
This identity must be found and the DNA of the team must be mapped out by the coaching staff and players, only then can a squad build this successful ego of itself.. The communication must be worked through between squad members to ensure respect and trust exists between the individuals. The coaches and team leaders must provide the structure and belief in principles the team identifies with. The coaches must employ the tactics and strategy and the players must execute on the field to see success. A warmth of comfort must develop within the group, where care for one another exists. All of this after developing a personal identity as a group that is completely unique from any team of the past.
Looking into the past in the thought of replicating past triumphs of past teams or learning from failures of past teams is preventing the squad you have currently from creating its’ own identity. Every instance that a great player from the past is referenced in front of the team, a counter energy is pushed into the group, the players will begin to wish themselves that they had the tools the players of previous squads had when times get tough. Belief in the tools that the current squad has must be a coaches top priority, implementing tactics from previous years based on past successes prevents a team from shaping a true identity. Coaches should try their hardest to implement tactics based on the team’s strengths and weaknesses and attempt to shape future squads around their desired tactics if they wish. When we look into the past we see what has come before, looking into the now and the future we seek to reach levels we haven’t reached before. All of this in hopes that we no longer need to look to the past as the pinnacle of athletic achievement has been successful reached.