October 9, 2018
When I delivered emotional literacy in prison, I noticed that the behaviour of those in professional football (soccer) and prison are similar. Both environments are highly pressured, silent on feelings and loud in emotions, with a lack of communication being the life of the theme. People within both spaces resort to pulling information from the environment, in their attempt to make sense of what’s going on. Becoming hypersensitive to tones, body language and actions.
In prison if you get it wrong, you can find yourself in a position where your life is on the line. A situation which leads to a physical altercation, resulting in an extended sentence, injuries or death.
In professional football if you get it wrong, you can find yourself in a position where your career is on the line. A situation which leads to clubs giving bad references, being released, (as a senior player) you’re told to train with the youth team and forced to run everyday. Resulting in moves to teams below your expected standard, performance levels drop or leaving the game altogether.
In both prison and football, it’s a lack of safety that makes people project a character they feel is needed to survive within that environment and sometimes they will behave inline with the character they project (which is out character). Forcibly resisting those in that space or withdrawing themselves from those and/or the space. This behavior is not ideal but is a method of survival. Vulnerability can have us behaving in unfortunate ways in our quest to achieve this objective.
Within football, communication can make the world of difference. Communication gives clarity, reassurance and safety. A Football Manager/Coach is a leader first and a football facilitator second. Understanding leadership will increase your value of human science and empower your role as the performance as leader. If your players feel safe you will get more out of them, on and off the field of play.
For more on leadership and the psycho-emotional elements of football and gangs, be sure to buy my book Soccology here.
Former West Ham and Charlton footballer turned human behavior specialist, Kevin George based ‘Soccology’ on his internationally acclaimed course of the same name. He specializes in understanding the role of childhood, feelings, environment, and lifestyle on a player’s mindset and how to use a player-centered approach to get optimum results. The book is considered a must-read for all lovers of the game.
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