Will Strikers have Meltdowns at the Upcoming Euro’s or Copa America like Jordan Spieth's at the Masters?
Jordan Spieth’s collapse at this year’s Masters has been rated by some reporters as one of the worst collapses in golf history. But collapses in sport are not uncommon. They do occur and will continue to occur. For every loser, there is a winner and fans love to see come from behind victories. You may even say that this phenomenon helps create the big salaries that we see in sports. Sport fans are constantly looking for the unexpected and it’s probably one reason that sport draws big numbers in TV ratings and at live events.
This summer, at both the Euro 2016 and Copa America competitions, the usual favourites and home sides will be under extreme pressure to win. But the onus sometimes comes down to the strikers who have to put the ball in the net. Their successes or failures will probably decide who wins and who loses. A missed opportunity might cause elimination from the competition and a coach being fired. Who will miss that glorious opportunity to carry their team to the next round? Will Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez, Rooney, Neymar, and fellow strikers leave the competition as hero’s or goats? It’s so unfair to put all the pressure on them isn’t it? But that’s what we all do. The fans and the media like to focus on them. It’s like they are on their own holding all the cards. They’ll get the glory if they score or be scorned if they do not.
We have seen strikers score in their league but completely fail at international events. Others rise to the top in international competitions. The moment when an athlete makes a mistake can be their most important moment when trying to avoid a total meltdown. Although the game is a team sport, it’s specific individuals that can start a downward trend or inspire a comeback and avoid a meltdown. A goal at the right time can change a game.
But for the athlete that is having a meltdown, we have to look at what causes this collapse. Quite often it’s a mental thing. For some reason, they cannot stop a downward trend. How can they play great one minute and then totally lose it for the rest of a game? From my book, The Last 9 Seconds, I spend some time helping coaches work with their athletes to stop this meltdown by providing some simple psychological ideas. Here is an excerpt with an example from the tennis world.
I recall a similar collapse while I was watching the2005 Women’s Australian Open tennis final between Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams . Davenport was ahead 1 set to 0 against Serena Williams and ahead halfway through the second set. Davenport had the opportunity to break Serena Williams and take a commanding lead in the second set. She had 7 break points and numerous opportunities to win one of the games in the second set. She failed.
Shortly afterwards, in the next game, Davenport had Serena Williams at 40/love but missed a simple shot that should have put the game away. After that miss, the game, set, and match were practically over. You could see it in her body language and reaction. I remember saying to myself after that miss, “it’s over, and she’s given up unless she composes herself”.
She proceeded to lose total composure after that miss and lost that game ending it with a double fault. She then lost again to lose the second set. In the third set Williams won 6-0 and claimed the Australian Open Women’s title. Davenport was unable to mentally overcome her errors and she broke down so quickly it was sad to see such an even match turn so one-sided in such a short time.
The key to victory or success in any individual sport comes down to eliminating errors. The golfer who gets a hole-in-one and then a triple bogey the next three holes will not win the competition too often, if at all. The tennis player who misses an easy shot has to be mentally strong enough to overcome a mistake and focus on the next shot. Tennis player Roger Federer has an amazing ability to stay focused, eliminate errors, and stay consistent without being too flashy to get the job done.
Former number one ranked men’s tennis player in the world, Roger Federer said that after years of playing tennis he has found peace on the court. He used to be “wild’ on the court before becoming “number one” because he’d get frustrated: “Now I can handle it. If I miss shots, I say, ‘Okay, I hope the next one goes better’. So I can just always see something positive in my game”.
For strikers, they have to have a similar mentality to the tennis player or golfer and be able to get recomposed after a mistake to make sure they do better in their next opportunity.
When I lecture to strikers I say, “DO NOT let the past affect the future in a negative way. If anything, make it a positive thing. Ask yourself to control the emotions that you have racing through your mind when you make a mistake. You can simply re-focus by telling yourself to calm down and do the simple things right as you have done before. Analyze what went wrong quickly and tell yourself that you know how to fix it. The key isthatyou know what you will do next time when a similar situation presents itself.
What you need to do is be thrilled with the fact you are playing a sport you love to play and be excited for your next chance. Do not worry about the people watching. You can do nothing about what happened. Just get excited about your next opportunity because you know what went wrong and you’ll be more focused to do the right thing to score.”
Federer worked with a sport psychologist to stay at the top of his game. Overcoming mistakes is huge and is something you have to learn to deal with to get to the top. It will happen to the best but the best will bounce back from any breakdown and stay towards the top for a long time. Those who cannot deal with adversity will disappear off the spotlight.
In golf, Tiger Woods learned to stay focused and forget about bad holes early in his career. I’m sure Jordan Spieth will bounce back but at the Euro’s or Copa America, there are no second chances. It’s not a league game that you can make up points later on. It’s do or die. There are not many second chances in International Tournaments. The pressure is on. How will the stars fare? Time will tell.
John DeBenedictis is author of The Last 9 Seconds: The Secret to Scoring Goals- A Psychological Perspective
(The official publication of the National Soccer Coaches Association of America)
A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about how many small players Barcelona had on their team. I had a hunch that it was a smaller team than most. So I decided to start researching their size in comparison to other teams. Trying to figure it all out and convert centimetres to feet and inches to research this point seemed very time consuming. I had practically given up on the idea of writing this article until I was watching a baseball game and the announcer said that the next batter up was only 5’10” and was rather small in comparison to the rest of the players in Major League Baseball. I thought that baseball was one sport where height was not such a big factor. Shortly after that I was watching the Barcelona/Real Madrid Super Cup and once again noticed that Barcelona seemed much smaller than their counterparts from Real Madrid. Once again, they ended up winning another trophy. My curiosity helped me get back to my research but it helped that the announcer nicely laid out the facts for me. Barcelona was the smallest team by height in La Liga and one of the shortest teams if not the shortest team in all of Europe as well.
Over the past twenty years or so, athletes in general that make it to the top levels, have been getting taller. Basketball and volleyball players of today would make the tallest players way back look tiny. The same goes for hockey players. Even tennis players today are taller than their predecessors. Sprinters in track and field also are taller than their predecessors.
Baseball players tend to be taller but I did not feel that the short player was unable to compete at the pro level. So I researched the two teams (Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays) that played each other in the game I was watching. Of the 55 players on both rosters, the shortest player was 5’9”. There was one player who was 5’10” tall, 2 players at 5’11”, and the remaining 51 players were all 6 feet or taller. Nine of those 55 players were 6’4” or taller. I was totally surprised that short players that were below 6 feet tall are practically not playing professional baseball.
Needless to say rugby players and American football players are very big and tall. Except for basketball, where players are close to 7 feet tall, other sports have many athletes who are over 6’4”. No longer considered big and un-coordinated, these players are very athletic and in control of their bodies. This leads one to believe that if the genes do not have height in the cards of an aspiring young athlete, then they may as well hang them up if they are trying to make it to the pro ranks.
It seems like the smaller players no longer have much of a chance to make it to the top in most sports.
And for a while, soccer seemed to be heading in the same direction, albeit not as dramatically. That of course, took a thunderous turn when Barcelona won the Champions League last season and proved that big is not necessarily better. Here are the statistics for Barcelona. Of the 20 players on their roster, give or take a half inch, 2 are about 5’6” tall, 3 are 5’7”, 3 are 5’8”, 4 are 5’9”, 2 are 5’10”, 1 is 5’11”, 1 is 6 feet, 2 are 6’1”, 1 is 6’3”, and only 1 is almost 6’4”.
I have always felt that the game of soccer is judged first and foremost by technique, skill, fitness, and knowledge of the game and not by brute force, which often comes from being bigger than the other guy. Although some positions could use taller players, (goalkeepers and defenders), in essence, anyone can play the game at the world’s highest levels regardless of size. Everyone is on a level playing field and that is just another reason why, as we all know, soccer is the beautiful game.
And for all those kids who enjoy playing soccer and want to see how far they can go in the sport, it’s nice to know that for one to be a good soccer player and have the possibility of making it to the highest levels, it’s not about heredity in terms of how tall or strong they will be; it’s about skill.
There is only one course instructor for this course at the moment. John DeBenedictis, who did the research and put together the course, will be the instructor at your course. DeBenedictis has traveled throughout North America presenting his unique lecture on scoring goals. He was one of the keynote speakers at the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) Coaching Convention in Indianapoils in 2013 speaking to a standing room only crowd of over 500 coaches. He was also a guest speaker at the NSCAA conventions in 2004 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and 2005 in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. In 2007, DeBenedictis was invited to speak in Santa Clara, California for the California Youth Soccer Association’s annual coaching conference and convention.
DeBenedictis holds the unique distinction of having spoken to the largest soccer coaching audience by any Canadian born coach. Over 1,000 coaches attended his sessions at the conference in Baltimore.
DeBenedictis is in his 40th year of coaching and has coached at all levels including internationally. He also ran his own soccer camps with Tony Waiters, former English International goalkeeper and Canadian National Team coach. He played goalkeeper for York University helping them win the National Title in 1977. He signed a semi-professional contract in a professional league called the "National Soccer League" with Toronto Ukrania.
DeBenedictis completed his Honors Bachelor of Science degree with a major in Physical and Health Education as well as earning an advanced certificate of coaching from York University. He holds an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma and a CSA Pre B Provincial License. He has extended his studies by doing extensive research into the cognitive processes used for performing tasks as it relates to perceptual motor-muscular learning. He has focused his research to include studying visual motion perception as it relates to different situations that soccer players encounter. DeBenedictis also studied super-star athletes from a variety of sports to see what they did differently in their human perception motor-muscular development process. His findings are unique and different when combined with the goalkeeper’s point of view on stopping goals. All this information formed the basis for his unique course, which led him to seek out different soccer facts that have helped players understand what it takes to be a great striker. He was able to take his experience as a goalkeeper as well as his coaching experience in dealing with adolescent athletes and blend it in with sports psychology to develop a program that will connect with the atlete in delivering the powerful information derived from his research and findings.
DeBenedictis was also the first coach to bring the Wiel Coerver Dribbling and Ball Possession techniques to Canada demonstrating the techniques across Ontario to coaches and players. DeBenedictis also produced a video on Ball Possession and Dribbling techniques geared to North American kids which is being re-issued and re-edited and some segments are out on You Tube. Many of the players he has coached or instructed went on to play professional soccer in Canada, the USA, and Europe.
He has also written numerous coaching articles for soccer publications and sport psychology web-sites across North America. Some of his articles have been instrumental in introducing change in player development programs with soccer clubs across North America.
DeBenedictis is author of the book, "The Last 9 Seconds" which just came out in 2013.
DeBenedictis is the founder of Golden Goal Scoring Academy.
It's Brett LaBonte, I personally enjoyed the class so much and I wish I could take it again honestly. It helped me start scoring again and more often as well. I always remind myself of the techniques and I consistently tell myself what you told me to say to myself. (note: Brett wrote what he says to himself but this is a course secret)."
I am more aware and also so much more confident and comfortable anywhere inside the 18 yard box. Thank you for the class and opportunity to learn those secrets.
Wanted to thank you for the course you presented for FC Frederick. It was very well done and my only regret was that I was only able to attend two of the four evenings due to my HS Girls program commitment. I was not able to be there for all of the sessions however, my son Noah Olson was as was a Taylor Crum who will be a key player on the Catoctin HS Varsity program that I coach.
Taylor has already made a huge impact. She scored 4 goals for us of the 11 that were scored in our 5 preseason HS Varsity scrimmages. 4 games of 5 were only 40 minute matches. The other was an 80 minute match. So essentially 3 "full" matches with 4 goals, adding the time up. I am looking forward to her success with your material the next few years. She is in 9th grade and will start and be an 80 min player on Varsity for me, as a striker of course. She was already a great player and I believe this material will help her even more.
As for my son Noah. He too is a good player. You have helped him substantially. He plays for Bo Eskay on his Primer U14 team. In the first 10 games out of your course (5 of which were 40 minute matches as apposed to a full 80 match) Noah scored 7 goals. He is doing good things with your material. He is a thinker and has mentally processed your material non stop since your course. He is always referring to a goal or a missed goal in perspective of things you taught in your course. I am looking forward to a great season for him.
I am picking up your book and plan to review the material with Taylor and Noah...
John, thanks for these updates, they are awesome!
One of your students, Jessica Shayuth, from Walkersville HS (where I coach, as well as FC Frederick) was in your class and to date has doubled her goals
from last season (2) to this season (4) in just three games. She has also tripled her shots per game so far for the year. Last season (1.6 per game)
to (3.6 per game) this season. Great job!
Walkersville HS Girls Varsity Coach
Hi Coach John,
Over the 3 weeks that we had your coarse, I had 2 league games and scored in each. Both goals were the equalizer goals that got our team back in the game and we won both games. I feel more confident now when I step on the field and when I look at the other team's goalie I think to myself "I know how to score on you!". I am more excited about our games now! I have a game on Tuesday July 2 at Princess Diana Large at 7pm PSC Power Gold U15G vs North Toronto and can't wait. I hope one day you will have a chance to see me play.
Thank you for everything you taught me, my parents ordered your book from Chapters and we are now looking at getting the player book that goes with it. I really liked the picture of you with my favourite coach ever Coach Richard Lissone.
Thank you again,
Hi Coach John,
Thank you so much for coming to see me play. I was excited when I saw you and even more excited when I scored a goal with you there!! Since that game, I scored 2 goals in our cup game against Barrie and 2 goals in our league game against Scarborough. So - so far so good Coach John!
Hi Coach John,
Thank you for the email.. Over the 3 weeks that we had your coarse, I had 2 league games and scored in each. Both goals were the equalizer goals that got our team back in the game and we won both games. I feel more confident now when I step on the field and when I look at the other team's goalie I think to myself "I know how to score on you!". I am more excited about our games now! I have a game on Tuesday July 2 at Princess Diana Large at 7pm PSC Power Gold U15G vs North Toronto and can't wait. I hope one day you will have a chance to see me play.
“Liam played again this weekend and scored another three goals including a highlight reel diving header! To say that he is thrilled with what you taught him in a short time would be dramatic understatement. Your goal scoring course is truly wonderful. Thanks again John and keep up the great work! Cheers.”
Chris Davies (Newmarket, Ontario)
“I think it is important to note that the course did wonders BUT, the application of the coaching scoring principles you preached at each of our practices is why it continues to produce results. I guess the message for the coaches is that it will not only transform your players but also you as a coach!”
Saw your presentation at the NSCAA convention and bought your book. I thought both were excellent. I'm a club and high school coach in Western Michigan in the US.
East Kentwood Varsity Soccer
Vice President of the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association
Director of Player Development for Grand Rapids Crew
I am a high school coach just outside of Chicago, Illinois at Benet Academy in Lisle. I just wanted to drop a note and say I really enjoyed your seminar this past weekend.
It was the most thought provoking session I attended and can't wait to read the book. ( I bought one )
I appreciated your passion, commitment to the game and player development.
Good luck to you.
J. Sean Wesley
Men's Varsity Soccer Head Coach
I appreciated the your simple but important approach to changing the way we teach kids about scoring goals. I have a junior who I think this approach will benefit greatly. I will purchase your book this evening. Thank you for taking time out and presenting”
The Lovett School
“I got the book on Friday and I'm already at page 110!
I thought you'd like to hear that I believe it is great. I did not read the entire book, but I have had a look at its organization and the content of the part I read and it is fantastic!
I tried to do 2 things with my daughter today as she was asked to try out with the provincial u16 for a few sessions and she was very nervous and after the first session on Thursday she was livid and upset as she felt she did really badly.
I used the relaxation you had in the book to keep her calm before today's session. Today she was much better, and when she came back from the practice she was calm, collected. She looked like a different person!!!
It's a long way there, I am sure, but to be able to make such a difference with a couple of the many things you speak and teach about was just an invigorating experience.
So, thank you and I'm looking forward to finishing the book.
You certainly got a client for one of your courses for this year...”
Giovanni Carboni (Hamilton, Ont.)
"We brought John into Edmonton to do his "Secrets of Goal Scoring" course with our U14 Boys team and some U13 Boys in May 2009. The team won the National Championship in October having scored a record breaking 41 goals in 5 games at the U14 Boys Canadian Championship Finals in Halifax".
...in the first game I played after your course I scored 4 goals. I scored another goal in my next game. I'm not sure how many goals I scored in practice, but the course has definitely helped me to score.
Edmonton Juventus Boys U14 Tier 1
We would be happy to be quoted supporting your course. It was excellent and has made a difference. If anything else, it gave the girls that little mental edge required to end the slump they were on. The results have been dramatic.
- In the 7 games before taking your course we averaged 1.3 goals per game. (9 goals in 7 games) (2 against Dixie & Burlington, the top teams in the league)
- In the 5 league games following your course the average has increased to 2.4 per game. (12 goals in 5 games) 2 of those 5 games were against Dixie and Burlington, the first and second place teams.
- Since the Goal Scoring course, including league, Ontario Cup and League Cup games we have played a total of 11 matches. (4 versus Dixie and Burlington.) Our average has increased from 1.3 goals/game to 3.5 goals/game. (38 goals in 11 games)
"I use the 4 fundamental rules every time I'm on the field. Since taking this course, my "finishing touch" has improved significantly. High flying balls over the cross bar are a thing of the past." -Jasmine
John, just wanted to let you know that Jasmine really benefited from your
training. Would be interested in hearing your assessment of her skills and
areas she should continue to focus on developing. She is seriously looking
at securing a scholarship stateside, (Howard University is one of her top
choices) so we are looking to support her with any additional training
that's necessary to elevate her skills. Would welcome your suggestions for
specific trainers / training programs.
You might want to add that, as a coach, I introduced many of the key elements taught in your course to all of our team players. The results have been dramatic with overall scoring this season that is 3 times better than any other year. Your methods are a regular component of our training sessions.
Here is a picture (not shown) of us in China after our first game (the team that had 5 national players on it). I'm third in on the top row from the right.
For Adam you can just say that he had the opportunity to play with "Top Dogs Bryst International" in England May 1st to May 9th. He also played in a Super Clubs tournament in Florida with AYSC U-15 Boys, when he got back to the Toronto airport, he flew out the same day to England to play with Super Clubs International All-Star American Team, they won 1 game, lost 1 and tied 3. It was a good learning experience for him playing at that level.
P.S. our class on Tuesday must have really helped me out because after that I've been playing much better, I even scored a goal that night in my last game of the season. Unfortunately we lost 6-1 but hey, I got one=) Adam also scored a goal that night at his game and had a bunch of other really good chances my dad said.
Firstly, I was blown away by your passion. John, that is the most animated and excited that I have ever seen you. I love it!! It is brilliant to see someone who is enjoying themselves as much as you seemed to be having. Passion: You can't buy it. Keep that up as it translates to your audience.
Your credibility and content is excellent
thanks for the invite on Sunday - thoroughly enjoyed the presentations and came away both informed and inspired !
Excellent presentation. I wish you success.
P.S. I now understand what your book is going to be all about. I may be on a real winner!!
I listened to your presentation at the NSCAA conference on scoring goals and then spoke to you later. The information you presented was very helpful and I will definitely apply what you shared when we start our high school season in early March. I coach at Ferris High School in Spokane, Washington. We have had a successful program but like everyone else, at times we struggle to score. I was very interested in the data you had from the 2002 World Cup. I appreciate you taking the time to present in Baltimore and would be indebted to you if you can let me know when your book comes out.
John, I called you last week about your upcoming book and your appearance in Baltimore at the convention. It has always been said that goal scorers are instinctive but, your simple techniques and secrets are easy to learn! If you have skill and a little vision, these techniques will help you finish the job in front of the goal. Thank you! -Kevin Leahy
I went to your session and truly enjoyed it. Thank You!
Coeur d Alene Sting Soccer Club
Coeur d Alene ID 83815
I sat in on your class about scoring goals at the convention and was blown away! I wanted you to do your entire course during the convention!
Thanks-please keep us posted if you prepare a book or manual for this! It was awesome.
Cherokee Soccer Assoc.
> Absolutely loved your presentation in Charlotte this weekend. The idea of
> bringing scoring down to the simplest level is brilliant and I know it
> help my high school girls team. I am going to teach them the 4 Golden
> Rules and I am going to explain the top 10 reasons why goals are not
Again, thank you for all of the help you have already given me. Hope to
> see you next year in Baltimore.
> Best regards,
> Jack Baer
> Howland (OH) High School
> Girls Soccer
"Thanks again, John
A great session!
Also an impressive handout"
"I just wanted to thank you for giving me a different perspective into goal scoring." Thanks again,,
"During the last 30 years I have been to countless soccer clinics. Many
were excellent, few were a waste of time. Your clinic is different, and
unique. "I enjoyed your coaching session and as you fine tune your Secrets, Tricks, and Facts to improve Scoring Goals, will have a powerful presentation for developing Goal Scoring. A "powerful tool", which no doubt will benefit and excite many coaches and players." A. Rubbens Publisher- Inside Soccer Magazine
" I thought your seminar was excellent. It definitively changes how I coach my team. After two exhibition games against strong competition we scored 3 goals in each game compared to last year where we struggled to score even two goals a game." Neil Pinheiro Brams Utd. Girls U15 Allstar Team
"interesting and very informative, if players or coaches come with an open mind, they will definitely learn a lot, which in turn will help all soccer players. Thanks john, I look forward to the next one." F Macri
"It was interesting, informative and also entertaining. I’ve never seen six hours go by so fast" Gary Nasu
Lisa received some press coverage up in Sudbury. Thought you might be interested in how your former student is doing.
My name is Russ Boyer. I am the Head Coach of the Boys Soccer Team at Brighton High School in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. I attended the 2004 NSCAA Conference in Charlotte, NC last year and I was very impressed with your presentation. As I am preparing for our upcoming season, I was reviewing my notes and remembered that mentioned last year that you may have a book or other publication on goal scoring coming out. If that is the case, where could I purchase a copy? I would like to implement concepts from your presentation in my team philosophy and practice structure. Anything you have or any direction you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your time,
Brighton High School
2220 E. Bengal Blvd.
Salt Lake City, UT 84121
For some reason I don't recall getting a final version, so if you can
re-send that would be great. A hard copy/ies would be splendid.. At the end
of the season, even though I don't want to give away our secret, we will
write an article about how your course turned our fortunes around.
PS - Even without Analisa the girls scored four goals against Mississauga
last week and created enough chances for more if not for the heroics of
their keeper and the ref calling back goals. I think it is important to
note that the course did wonders BUT, the application of the coaching
scoring principals you preached at each of our practices is why it
continues to produce results. I guess the message for the coaches is that
it will not only transform your players but also you as a coach!
Your coaching session in Baltimore was "wicked- awesome"
Very informative. The best part was you had everybody by the balls right from the start!
Everyone was frantically taking notes.
I’ve been coming to these conventions since 1951 and this is the first session that really really peaked my interest. Enjoyed presentation. Great points on scoring and it was well done with repetition to get the points across. Lots of psychological stuff that also relates to basketball. Picture with Landon Donovan was perfect.
Rick Pizarro Springfield College, Baltimore
I loved your presentation in Santa Clara and felt that there were points that where extremely valid, and gave us coaches an opportunity to re-evaluate or shooting sessions
California State Coach
Loved the video clips illustrating your points and liked the Power Point visuals. The personal experiences were great to hear as well, from a goalkeepers perspective.
Very informative from a variety of perspectives and research data. Highlights of games were excellent to view.
"Visual presentation was great! Kids and adults are all visual learners. Very good. At first, I asked myself how is John going to teach goal scoring in a class? Great ideas."