THE POWER OF FOCUS
by Neal Kasamoto
Focus On What You Can Control!
Playing hard is the only thing each player can control. Players need to block out external factors beyond their control and focus on playing hard. When the team focuses on playing hard, good things happen.
As an assistant, I saw what happens when you focus on things you can’t control. We had a hard luck soccer team that was fairly competitive in every game. We would always be close or tied after half, but “something” always occurred to make the game unravel. Many times a “bad call” or break got everyone upset; coaches, parents, players and myself. The players took their cue from the adults, got upset and surrendered more goals, as close games became blowout losses. We took our lumps and struggled to a 3 – 7 season with two wins against a winless team.
I inherited that team the following season. We needed to change one thing; we had to “Focus on what you can control.” We preached, “Play hard; it’s the only thing you can control” during the preseason.
Our first game had many unknowns, we changed our defensive and offensive schemes, several players left and there were untested new players. The first quarter ended in a scoreless defensive struggle. Very few scoring opportunities, very rough play but no fouls were called. Players complained “the referee isn’t calling anything and we’re getting knocked around.” They were waiting for something “bad” to happen, but we kept preaching, “Focus on what you can control – play hard.”
During the second quarter the players on the bench continued to complain about the officiating. I walked up and down coaches box saying loudly “Just focus on what you can control – keep playing hard!” so the parents would hear. The parents caught on and started cheering supportively. Midway through the second quarter, the team broke through and scored several goals. In the second half they played even harder, scored a couple more goals and actually had to shut down the scoring so they didn’t run up the score. That team finished 8-1-1! A huge improvement achieved by focusing on what they could control – their effort on the field.