In Episode 71, Dan Abrahams, Sports Psychologist, best-selling author of four books, Founder of the Dan Abrahams Soccer Academy and The Sport Psych Show Podcast, and former pro golfer, talks with Phil about his sports psychology work, his books, and...
In Episode 71, Dan Abrahams, Sports Psychologist, best-selling author of four books, Founder of the Dan Abrahams Soccer Academy and The Sport Psych Show Podcast, and former pro golfer, talks with Phil about his sports psychology work, his books, and his podcast, the concepts of “Teamship” and motivational climate, extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation, pre-failing, self-leadership, his personal why, how we can coach difficult players by asking great questions, and whether we can recreate the pressure of a penalty kick outside of a match. Specifically, Dan discusses:
Resources and Links from this Episode
Phil: Welcome back to how soccer explains leadership. Thank you again for being a part of this show. Thanks for your download and for engaging in the conversation. Today, as usual, we have a great guests that I'm very excited to have a conversation with, and really just, you know, most of you have probably heard of this guy.
Some of you may have not. If you haven't, you definitely need to check out his books, which we will talk about and just learn from him on how you can use the. different tools really that he's been able to help us understand. You know, some of these are pretty complex topics that he's been able to bring down to a non PhD level for us.
So this guy is Dan Abrahams and he's from the UK. And he's actually got a little bit different background than most of the soccer folks here. You know, he, he started on the, on the golf course. I don't know if he started on the golf course, but he was a pretty good golfer in his day. And somehow he has come to be an expert in the [00:01:00] soccer world with sports psychology and you know, he's, he's, he's kind of blushing over there on those and looking on the other side, but I know that he's been described as I'm sure this way many times, but w we have is Dan Abrahams and Dan, how are you doing today?
[00:01:17] Dan: Well, I'm honored and delighted to be speaking with you today. So yeah.
[00:01:21] Phil: Absolutely. And I could have spent the whole hour doing your, your resume and your bio, but you know, people can check you out at what's your what's a website.
[00:01:29] Dan: Nice and simple.
[00:01:32] Phil: It is simple. We'll have that in the show notes as well.
And you can get all the background and everything you want to know about Dan. Dan, can you also just share the, the books that you have written and, you know, I'm going to point people to those books. We're not going to go into super detail in any of those cause folks, you can read them and I encourage you to read them.
It's phenomenal stuff. So, can you just real quickly run down those?
[00:01:54] Dan: So, my first book I wrote was soccer tough, which several months ago Gareth Bale very kindly [00:02:00] said it was his favorite book, a book that has influenced him most. And then I followed that up with a book called Soccer Which is predominantly for coaches, soccer, toughest, both the players and coaches. And then I decided to do a sequel to soccer, tough brilliantly named Soccer Tough 2, which was, which is most inventive of my publisher and myself to come up with that title. And if anybody is interested in golf I also wrote Golf Tough, so lots of tough going on here, but Golf Tough.
So those are the four books that I've written.
[00:02:32] Phil: All right. Yeah. And I did notice the subtitles of the Soccer Tough books had football in the subtitle. So is that, is that confusion on the publisher's part or was that a battle in the, I imagine even the back rooms of the uh, publisher going okay.
It's football, but you know, we're writing to a lot of Americans, so we got to have soccer in there or is it just going, I mean, I was curious about that. So I had to ask.
[00:02:56] Dan: Yeah, no, absolutely. Look marketing probably shameless [00:03:00] marketing. There's there's no question that, I mean, we were just talking off the air why don't we, we met for the first time, a few weeks ago, the United soccer coaches convention, and we have nothing like that over here in, in the UK or in Europe for that matter.
And everybody thinks about Europe being, I suppose, that the center of the soccer or football in world, but over in America, I mean, your participation levels are through the roof and you've got more coaches than anywhere else. Look, to be honest with you, I want to influence everywhere globally. And it's been translated to a number of languages, which I'm very proud and humbled about.
But I we did feel that that's called it soccer tough, but that's put in that subtitle that the word football. So there was no confusion. I was asked this the other day, you know, do you like using the word soccer? And I, I just, for me, you have to meet people where they're at. And so, you know, when I come over to the states, one has to respect that football for so many people over there is what we would call American football or NFL.
That's fine. That's cool. You know, we're, [00:04:00] we're a global community, right. And we just got to meet other people's meet each other's language. So it's all good with me. I
[00:04:06] Phil: love that. I love that talks about that all the time. And I mean, soccer football is really the global language too. When we talk about meeting people with their language, it can connect any area.
We just talk about Uganda before we recorded. And you know, you go over there and you talk about football and, and they know what you're talking about. And you can use the analogies. You can talk about different things and yeah. You can connect with people like you can't really with anything else around the world, there's no, you know, I went to India.
That was the one place. Maybe you got to know cricket, but and so I learned cricket because I
[00:04:37] Dan: wanted to be able to communicate with the folks. Well, funnily enough felt just point carry on. I mean, I actually worked quite closely with the all Indian football Federation. So you absolutely have to know cricket over there because it is just, there's a billion Indians in India and it's an amazing country.
And cricket is their national sport. But soccer football is growing heavily. And if I would say, actually they are probably second to America in terms of volume of [00:05:00] coaches. There's drafts of coaches over there. So it's, it's getting bigger.
[00:05:04] Phil: Yeah. It's good to hear. It's good to hear. I just know that I get my in my hometown out here in California, there's these guys from India and they're all in the little, the football, you know, the little ice rinks that we are not the hockey rinks.
They're not ice rinks. They're roller hockey rinks, of course, California. And they were playing cricket in the, in the rink. And I'm just sitting there in the world. You guys play cricket. I know that these are massive fields with it. So I I'm, I'm learning, I'm learning. So, you know, I'm a lifelong learner, so I'm gonna, and if it's sports, it's easier for me to learn.
All right, so let's take a step back and go. All right. You're a pro. You know, you were a pro golfer and you're out on the masters, you know, the, the senior circuit, as far as I know.
[00:05:44] Dan: Sorry about
[00:05:45] Phil: that. Sorry about that. But how did you end up, how did you know, just share your story a bit with people who don't know who you are, and then I don't really know that story either. Just how did you end up going from golf to, you know, not just writing books, but really becoming a [00:06:00] go-to, you know, sports psychologist for a lot of people in the soccer world and, and how'd you get to be where you are today and really what excites you about where you are today?
[00:06:08] Dan: Yeah. So, look, I, I was a teenager playing golf. It was the sports I've actually specialized in. And I knew I wanted it in my future in some capacity. And I wasn't the most gifted at a game and I started to look holistically to improve and I was a teenager. Yeah, I think at 15, 16 years old, I was reading Timothy, always in the game of golf.
Right. I was my mother probably somewhat prudently bought me a theoretical sports psychology book when I was about that age and I think it was a kind of out of love for my interest in all things, sport and psychology and stuff like that, but also out of concern for, well, if you don't make it as a golfer, then here's a potential backup, which actually proved to be something that came true.
But I. I left school at 18. They announced my parents. So it's going to be the best golfer in the world realized pretty quickly I [00:07:00] wasn't going to compete for tiger woods. Or at least I could carry on trying to, but we'd continue to be living in a, kind of, with not a lot of money and eating out of a baked bean tin can essentially.
So I what did I do? I went into the pro shop at my, my club. I grew up and lived in London at the time. So it was a club in London, England, and I did my PGA qualifications. I started to coach the game. I was still playing a little bit on the side and I just continued to really be interested in sports psychology.
I saw sports psychologists as a player, as I said, I was reading books and I thought, you know what, I'm going to go to university. Cause I hadn't been to university. I went to university at my mid twenties. I did a first degree in psychology as I was coaching golf. So there's this wonderful combination of coaching sport.
And then golf you're you're coaching 40 hours a week. You know, you're a full-time coach. You, you know, you're doing that. And you're, you know, [00:08:00] you're, you're really honing your coaching skills and your communication skills. So I was doing that. Did my psychology degree, did my master's degree in sports psychology and came to a crossroads.
Was I going to carry on doing the golf and sort of have the sports psychology there as an additional thing, or wasn't going to leave golf behind. And go off and become a registered, qualified sports psychologist. And I chose to do the latter for several reasons, the intellectual challenge, not that coaching isn't intellectually challenging.
Absolutely. Yes. These days in the current climate, you're now getting coaches, who've got particularly the masters and PhDs and stuff, and maybe here in the UK. Now I might, ma'am made a different decision based on that, but I also wanted to work in Um, so I wanted to work in other sports and I wanted to work in the corporate environment and, and public sector and things like that.
So they interested me and I just was really interested in psychology and that sort of side of coaching and that [00:09:00] side of competing and participation and stuff. So that's what I did for 15, 16 years ago. I started coming to that. Full-time registered sports psychologist, left the golf behind me and I, I was always a golfer who kind of, I listened to sports, psychology, speak.
Now as a sports psychologist, you can work across all sports. Of course you can, and you should do. However, I was I was, when I, when I was a golfer, I kind of listened to some sports psychs, speak about golf. I see what you're saying, you're saying in a way that I'm not too sure. I want to come and speak to you more about this.
And I think I was a bit unfair about that because clearly now I've worked in lots of sports. Well, I'm definitely not an expert in that sport and I don't necessarily know their language. And I think sometimes actually that can be an advantage, you know, and that could be for the good for, for the player that they haven't got somebody who has been kind of clotted up with having a history in the gap.
So there's that, but that at time I thought, you know what, I really want to specialize. I [00:10:00] know golf at the back of my hand. What else can I really say that. English love football, love soccer. I was a super supportive growing up when, you know, when I predominantly grew up as a teenager in the nineties. So that was quite painful supporting spurs at that time.
And, and anyway, so I managed to attain. At a non-big site here in England, basically step six in the pyramid, in the huge pyramid that we have hap so step six and I just started to learn and learn and learn, learn the language, learn the specific challenges that players face work with. A lot of players would come down from premier league academy, championship English championship academies, and it kind of snowballed from there.
And I started to work with premier league players. I started to work quite a bit with Westham players at time without being employed by the club. And, and just really was traveling up and down the country, working with so many different players. So many different coaches wrote my book, wrote my next books.
Work started to work with teams, gained some contracts in premier league clubs built from there, and really, I suppose, diner the global [00:11:00] attention. You know, that's how you want to describe it without being too grandiose and over the top about it, but within the world of soccer, just because I just, I, I just really focused my efforts there and I was really passionate about trying to demystify this staff, make it as practical as possible, integrate psychology that the bio-psycho-social elements for coaches and, and yeah, that's, that's kind of how it's all built.
So that brings us up to speed, I
[00:11:26] Phil: think. Absolutely. And, and, you know, you've seen people not just care about it, but really are diving into it now. I mean, and so w what excites you about, you know, kind of when you started versus where we are today and really people understanding mindset and the importance of.
[00:11:43] Dan: Yeah. I suppose if we kind of relate this to soccer, then I would say when I started, I mean, jeez, I was like, sometimes I was in rooms with people that I was kind of pinching myself and it was like, I'm here with this [00:12:00] person. This person is listening to me. And these, this coach here, who's coached, who's managed England.
He wants to actually have a conversation with me and he's actually asking questions. And then with players, you're thinking, wow. So of course at the beginning there was that for me. And then pretty quickly as happens with us as human beings. We normalize those kinds of things pretty quickly. And now I can walk into it by enlarged there where I've seen very few people out there I'd go, oh, this is pretty cool right now.
But that normalize is pretty quickly, I think really. What's grown for me. And maybe if I may say, I mean, one thing I left off my biography, there was my own a podcast The Sports Psych Show. And I think over the years I started as a sports psychologist coming from that playing and coaching background.
And if you look at my early work, I would say my early work was very, very, was quite, I noticed that it's more lay person. The now, because I think it's important to translate it, [00:13:00] demystify it and keep it in a lay person. I'd like to think I do a good job now. I didn't really seek out much of a scientific underpinning back then.
I would say through my podcast, through my relationships with some of the leading academics global. Within sports psychology, perhaps where I've shifted from a demystification. What, what excites me and where has shifted from a demystification perspective is I want to take the work of the world's best sports, psychology, academics, coaching science, skill, acquisition science, take that and demystify that so that these fairly complex theories as best I can are simplified, but no simpler, you know, not, not completely getting and understanding complexity is going to be involved, but I suppose stripping away the complication as much as possible.
And I think that excites me more today than it did. 15 years ago, [00:14:00] 15 years ago, it was probably a bit more as science. Ah Kind of kind of now I'm like, yeah, this is really cool. I love this scientific theory. Right? What does this mean for a play? What does this mean for coach? How can we help them interpret this?
Why is this important? So that's probably where I'm at a bit more.
[00:14:18] Phil: I love it. Yeah. And I mean, and I actually had the sports psych show in the, in the thing. I'm glad you brought that up because that is something that folks, you know, I'll put that in the show notes as well. Check that out. If you're on this podcast, you like podcasts.
That's definitely a podcast. If you're listening to this, you want to be a part of, cause it goes a lot deeper than we're going to be able to go into this stuff today and you can go get as much of this as you want. And that's the beauty of the podcast is in the medium. And that's what I mean. I think you, you love as well is the ability and we actually met on clubhouse, you know?
And so it's like that, that medium of just being able to have conversations and get to the nuances of these things that. Black and white and a book. If you have a [00:15:00] question about something, you, you can't just go, Hey, what's the, what's the answer to this, but on a podcast, usually when you get into a conversation and we'll be able to hopefully do this a little bit today, we can ask that next question.
We can ask and go. I didn't quite understand it. Cause we all are. We all are bit by the curse of knowledge, right? I mean, we know what we know and we forget that everyone else doesn't know all the lingo, you know, as a recovering attorney, as I say I say a lot of things, that'd be, well, what are you talking about?
And I've, you know, 13 last 13 years since I practiced, I, I kind of have gotten a lot of that out of there, but you say things and you just forget that. Oh yeah. They don't know Latin, you know, and I'm using these words and whatever.
[00:15:39] Dan: It's it's funny you say that because I I've it, you know, when I sit down and I read academic sports, psychology texts, which is so important for me to do it is so challenging.
Now God just, it takes me so many reads. Not, I, I, I, I don't profess to be the most intelligent person on the planet, but I'm not the daftest or dumbest. And, and it does take me a lot of research because I [00:16:00] just think you get out of that habit. You know, if you stay in the world of academia, you just get used to, you read it, you read it, you're doing it all the time.
So you get used to that kind of language. And as you said, as a Tony, you're, you know, you you've built a catalog of, of language of words, sentences, and phrases that you're used to the others aren't. So it's a fascinating. Yeah,
[00:16:20] Phil: absolutely. And it's so important, like you said earlier to meet people where they are, but also not dumb things down, because then you talked about that complexity.
I mean, we need to make the complex simple to a certain extent, but you can't gut it from its meaning and help. Right. You know, and so, you know, we can talk about mind one versus mind two, instead of the, you know, whatever the, the scientific terminology is, and that's all fine, you know, and I, going back to the other mediums and other sports, you know, The Inner Game of Tennis is another book out there that has made its [00:17:00] waves and Pete Carroll and all this stuff, using it with USC team.
And, and as a Bruin fan, that's why I didn't want to ever read it. But but that's a, you know, but these are the things that we can go across and we can use these different tools and different sports that, you know, maybe someone that knows golf can read the golf book and it'd be able to. Then it makes sense.
Right. You know, to be able to say that. So go, going back to that, you know, that idea of, you know, you be in this golfer coming into the football world are these principles where you look at it and you go, golf is more of a mind game than, than football. You know, you hear that people saying, oh, golf is just all mental game.
Right. And you, and I both know. So it was football. Right. But I think, can you speak to that a bit when people say, oh yeah, we just go out and kick the ball around. It's no big deal versus golf where it's obvious a little bit more obvious. I think as far as the mental game on, on golf.
[00:17:54] Dan: Yeah. It feels more obvious doesn't it?
But the interesting thing about golf is you've got five laws of them, of [00:18:00] impact that you know, that you've got to adhere to. And and so mechanics and biomechanics technique does matter. You know, you can look at it, look at the world swings, and you can say they're a little bit different, but there's a lot of similarities to them.
And so, and so golf is to the technical game smothered with a great deal of mental challenges. No doubt about it. There's obviously there's a lot of time to think and golf it's a self-paced sports, but the interesting dynamic here is. Is that let's frame it this way. I do get a lot of people historically, who have said to me or Dan, how is, how is soccer a psychological sport?
You know, it's such a quick sports, you know, there's no time to think, and that's a complete misunderstanding of the way the brain and the nervous system is structured and how it functions. The interesting thing is that whilst. And you could say, you say basketball or soccer works in Millie in, in, in seconds.
Sorry, the brain and the nervous system work in milliseconds. They're throwing out thoughts and feelings [00:19:00] shaped as judgments all the time. So we've got this brain and nervous system work in milliseconds, where you have evolved as human beings to utilize these thoughts, feelings, emotions in milliseconds to judge what's going on around us.
We tend to scan for threats and problems, both externally, which is called exteroception and internally, which has good interoception. And so think about it now, you know, if you can picture, if you're listening in and you're a coach and you can picture your soccer players playing, consider the internal that is driving or influencing the external consider the brain and the nervous system constantly judging what's going on around.
Constantly tuning into how the body feels at any given moment. And so it is a highly in terms of what's happening on the field from an intra-personal perspective, it is heavily mental because that's how our brain and nervous system is designed. Also, one has to remember the [00:20:00] game is complicated.
You know, human beings are complex. The game is complicated. Yes. Let's come back to it. It's a quick spot. There's a lot of challenges going on at any given moment. The demand put the place a lot of minds on our cognitive system, our mental processes, if you like our perceptual abilities, our pattern recognition, we've got to do a lot all at the same time.
And so, and we've got to do that whilst we coordinate our muscles. So, it's for me from a mental and a cognitive perspective, it's highly psychological. And then outside of the interpersonal challenges, you've got any interpersonal challenges. It's like, I've got to deal with all of that. And I've got to be a great team mate, and I've got to try and influence which the best coaches want their players to be able to learn and develop and be.
You know, do during performance. [00:21:00] So it's heavily demanding interpersonal and interpersonal. Now I would actually say as a golfer, there's several things going on here as well. That make golf a little bit easier in many respects, from a psychological perspective. I don't have any teammates, right? Like I might, if I'm good and I'm at top level, I've got a caddy and I've got to communicate them.
And then off the cause, and on the practice ground, I have to learn how to communicate with my coach and foster relationships there. But I don't have any teammates that they've got to deal with. That that makes a big difference there from the, from the interpersonal demands. And then the other thing, the interesting dynamic at the very highest level is in golf.
Of course, you have to qualify for the tours that you want to play on, but by and large, when I turned pro I could just go and play on, you know, my, my, my local regional tours, professionally as a professional, you're always going to be able to find it find somebody to play it. And as a top amateur, you're going to be able to do that.
Now as a [00:22:00] soccer player, you ain't always going to be picked for the team. You're going to be benched quite often. You know, and there's a whole raft of psychology, psychological dynamic underneath that. There was every single day, every day, every week, I seem to be having a conversation with a play young and mid and sort of mid career and late in the career where players are dealing with the emotion around not being packed or clubs rejecting that.
And that feels that taps into the stress response, because a big part of stress is you know, the brain's propensity to look to what's control and it makes us feel out of control. You know, when we're not picked for a team, it makes us feel helpless. You don't get that in golf. So there's that interesting dynamic now, of course, coming back to golf, just three feet to finish off it.
Of course, it's a self-paced sport. There's more time to think. And you know, down the back nine on a Sunday and a major championship, you know, it is tough. It is hot, of course is, and you you've gotta be [00:23:00] responsible for yourself. It is challenging in that way. There's lots of similarities. There's lots of differences.
I just think every, probably every thing, but every sport is, is bio psycho-socially driven. If bio-psycho-social and the interaction between biology, psychology and social, the social environment is always there. It's always happening every second on the court, the course, the pitch, the field, the gym, the swimming pool, and we've got to find ways to intentionally become better at the bio-psycho-social side.
[00:23:34] Phil: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, like I said before, if this stuff is brand new to you, go grab the books because we're not even going to be able to go. I mean, I could go on for three and a half hours just with that answer to unpack it, but we're not going to, because you can find that elsewhere. And I, I will, I will, I'm going to continually point you to the sports psych show to these books because you can go [00:24:00] and learn more about this.
You know, BioSilk is psychosocial. If that is completely you're going, what in the world are you even talking about? You know, you break those down, biology, psychology, social sociology, right? So these different aspects of ourselves, of our games, of, of what we're doing and really it's life. Right. And it's not just sports and that's why we'd have this show, right?
I mean, how soccer explains life and leadership, right? I want to go to jump onto something that you talked about there though, that, that soccer. And when we talk about leadership and you have this concept, we discussed a little bit on clubhouse called teamship, right. And co can you talk about that a bit and why it's important, what it is and why it's important.
[00:24:39] Dan: Okay. Yeah. Cool. So, teamship I mean, I suppose it's, it's my term for the theory and practice of working, playing. Really, as simple as that, I mean, I think we had some fascinating conversations on clubhouse didn't we? And I kind of try to add as I have kind of a tendency to do so apologies for this [00:25:00] throw grenade into the room.
I think the, the room that you had was leadership and it was a fantastic room. Have you, have you still got that by the way?
[00:25:06] Phil: We were talking about starting it up again, but it's kind of the clubhouse scene in the soccer world has kind of died out a little bit, but we're, we're talking about maybe trying to get some people to get back on there, but I don't know.
[00:25:17] Dan: I came off it as well, because this has just tend to be dying a bit of a death. But I, I think I, your room was about leadership and I said, you know, what has fascinated me? Not just leadership potential because. That sometimes in my career, I've sat down with coaches and coaches that have said to me, Dan, Dan, we've got to work on, I want, I want more leaders.
I want more leaders. You know, I want, I've got, I think I've got about three and I want six or seven leaders. And when I sat down and I've just asked questions around that, I kind of always felt, not always, I've often felt that what they actually wanted were players who were better teammates as opposed to leaders or in [00:26:00] addition to leaders, you know, for me, leadership is more about asserting and guiding.
And you can have all kinds of personality, characteristics related to that, but it's more about certain guiding. Whereas for me, 10 ship is more about really fulfilling kind of formal and informal commitments that work towards team cohesion. And towards team objectives. So it's, it's about being a great teammate and really I, in my work, I divide that into four, you know, what, what comes underneath team ship?
And I think for me, it's, if we look from a cohesion perspective, it's social cohesion, which is essentially a sense of connectedness amongst teammates, then you've got task cohesion, which I think is often left out and that's basically basically the will and the ability to help each other achieve the task.
That you set out to strive to achieve. Then there's something there's two other things. Then for me, [00:27:00] there's creating shared mental models, which is basically knowing each other's role to achieve a task. So basically being able to look through the lens of your teammates and see the world through their eyes.
And then you've got something called social identity, which is basically group membership, you know, feeling a member of the group. So we've got social cohesion, task cohesion, shared mental model and social identity. And when I go into a team, if I get the opportunity to sit down with coaches and talk to them about, team-ship basically the practice of working in playing together as a team, those that are.
Themes or factors we're often talking about working around and looking at, well, what can we bring into activities and training sessions that is going to develop these things? What kind of communication and things do we have to do in and around the training ground and the clubhouse, et cetera, that are going to improve these things.
So that's really that's I, for me that would [00:28:00] be an overarching kind of summary of, of what I think about teams.
[00:28:03] Phil: Yeah, absolutely. And as you talk about the teamship with the teams, something else we've talked about, this is motivational climate of a team and what does that have to do with teams? And what does that have to do with culture?
We hear so much of the culture of the team, right? And I think too many coaches skip to, we just need to have a healthy culture without having the pieces of the puzzle in the foundation of that culture built up. And as you talked about you skip the task, you skipped. Teammates fighting for each other and wanting each other to succeed, which is a huge part of a team that you talked about is different from golf, right?
Where you, you have these extra things on top of it, where we should be. If you're having a healthy team and a healthy culture, you will be cheering each other on to succeed, not wishing each other's failures. So you get to play more. Right. That's that. So what does that look like? What is this idea of motivational culture?
How does that fit in? How does that all that fit in with.
[00:28:58] Dan: Yeah, well, motivational [00:29:00] climate, I mean, certainly does have a relationship with teamship. Because if you've got some motivational climate in, in very simple, broad terms is the direction motivation is oriented towards, you know, what are we motivated by?
And again, stripped back motivational climate can go in one of two directions, essentially. And again, this is, this is, this is quite stripped back, but by and large, this is how motivational climate works. We can be ego and performance oriented, which is very much other referenced, which basically means want to win, want to win one.
Gotta beat others gotta be, I was got to play better than others. Got to play better than others. You know, so very endemic air at the elite in developing elite level, possibly the college level as well, so oriented and back youth sports as well. Probably much to the detriment of participation, possibly probably [00:30:00] the other way to orient motivation is toward mastery or task.
So those two names probably speak for themselves, mastering our skills. We are self-referenced, mastering our skills, putting in effort levels to mastery skills, going out and, and striving to complete controllable tasks and doing both of those things as individuals and as a group, as a team. And so needless to say that if we think of ego stroke, performance being red, and we think of task mastery being green, we probably, as a coach, want to help players orient more towards the green to task mastery.
If people can picture that being. Reference. If we can team around that, what do we want to achieve? What are our tasks here as individuals and as a team, can we team around that? Can we be, [00:31:00]can we, this is task cohesion. Can we focus on these things and help each other that with these things, now of course, let's go back to this word complexity.
It would be crazy to, as a sports psychologist to say, well, we must only be that we can only be in the green. What we know from research. And clearly what we know from practice are very good players. Do orient towards the red. You know, some very good players and, and, and people who find themselves motivated by I really want to win.
I want to beat this person or this other team I want to do. Of course, that's a motivator. Of course, that's a motivator, but what we know is it probably a healthier and safer, a healthier and safer culture or environment orient towards that green whilst not ignoring the red ego and performance. We might use that in our [00:32:00] communication from time to time, we might have some outcome and performance objectives, but mainly have task and process and mastery objectives.
It's it's where does that sweet spot lie? It is an art in, it's not an exact science and you can't get it right all the time. The final thing to say here is the problem with everybody being in the room. Is, you could argue that historically that while some of those, once we can point to, let me, let me be bold here.
And I might point to Manchester United for a period of time under Sir Alex Ferguson. Now I'm not going to dispute the brilliance of Sir Alex Ferguson and the brilliance of those players, but, you know, partaking in the industry over here and having a lot of, in a little bit of insider knowledge and, and speaking with that was a very challenging culture that they had that I do think.[00:33:00]
Participants within that culture look back and think that was, that was hard. That was stuff that wasn't necessarily very healthy or safe. Prime example in the last two weeks, Wayne Rooney coming out and talking about an alcohol problem, ha he had a problem with mental health challenge with mental health and being unable to be open and vulnerable, vulnerable about that.
So, and that may be, does extend from this ego stroke performance climate. And really we have to, for me, we have to strive strive to turn up the volume of how do we help create these healthier motivational climates, task mastery, process cohesion vulnerability, psychological safety, psychologically informed environments, where we have better conversations about who is in this environment.
How do we help them feel [00:34:00] included autonomy, supportive coaching as much or more so than controlled coaching right away through to how we deliver the practices on the field. It's all interconnected. And that's what makes it complex.
[00:34:14] Phil: Absolutely. And that goes back to just the simple principles of both and rather than either, or right.
And it is a both, and it has to be a both/and, right. It's not one or the other now I will say. And I think you hit on this early on in the answer. And I, I don't, I don't want to put words in your mouth. I'm just gonna ask the question. Do you think that going, you know, the red, the, the ego and that, that driver others being your motivator rather than the internal, do you see that in that coaching and those environments foster burnout much more than the other?
[00:34:54] Dan: I would suggest that research would suggest that that can be the [00:35:00] case. And my experience is I've been blessed to work in Premier League soccer for the last 15, 16 years. And I've seen and been in a lot of environments that aren't healthy or safe, in my opinion, in terms of they're not happy places, they're not places happiness is possibly the wrong word.
They're not places where I felt that human beings are thriving and flourishing both professionally and personally. And especially personally, they can be quite unhappy places and you look, of course, there's, we're human beings and we have to go to work and, and, and of course there's going to be inherent stresses in that. Life isn't all sunshine and flowers as Rocky would say. But there's it there's we probably would [00:36:00] like to create environments that are going to be as healthy and as safe as possible. And, and I would say the research also suggests that in those kinds of environment, And I think I briefly read something on who just won the NFL, who just won the Super Bowl.
Um, Right. My understanding is that you can only extract a certain amount of truth if that's the right term from an article, but seemingly positive psychology in the work of Martin Seligman and colleagues has played a part there that seems to be quite an adaptive culture. There's always going to be different stories coming out about these things.
And then the performance is always multidimensionally underpinned, but what we can pretty much suggest is that these kinds of healthy and safe cultures aren't necessarily to the detriment of performance. We can perform and have healthy and safe environments. We've just got to be smart about it.
We don't have to get [00:37:00] up at four in the morning, every single day and grind, right. Training doesn't have to be joyless and one dimensional. There is always a time for effort for a practice deliberate practice that isn't always fun, but we can have more enjoyable performing and playing and engaging environment.
The last thing to say here is I do think whether you take motivational climate, whether you look at the motivational stuff around self-determination intrinsic extrinsic motivation for me, it's really about helping individual players. A range across the continuum, a range of motivational markers across the intrinsic extrinsic continuum.
There's nothing wrong with a player saying I really want to win this game and that's driving me this week, but I would also want to challenge that player, [00:38:00] or massage that player towards having also intrinsic motivation as well as Wes, as well as lesser extrinsic motivation around identity and values, but also interest in enjoyment.
I've worked with Premier League players who simply have to go out. One of them had to have what I call a game face of mates, football, mates, soccer. He had to imagine he was going out there playing with his mates because that helped him see the game through his creative eyes, through joyful eyes that actually paradoxically helps him to work harder.
Put more effort in, have a better attitude. Motivation is an art and it's very, very common.
[00:38:42] Phil: Absolutely. And I look at just my two of my kids, my two youngest kids, my 10-year-old, very people focused. He's a, he's just wired where he's just, he loves people. He needs his friends. He needs always wanting to be with his buddies.
And I talked to them actually just last night we were driving home from his soccer practice and he goes, dad, how do you, [00:39:00] like if he's he's really fixated on what it takes to be a pro, you know, and he's 10, right. So I said, well, just enjoy the game right now. But he goes, but dad, but what does it take? And I go, well, it takes a lot, a lot, a lot of work, you know?
And, and you know, like when the other day when you were on your hoverboard, just goofing around, like a lot of the guys would be out at the park juggling or whatever. Right. But you're a kid, so don't worry about it. But and he goes, what could I do with my. And I said, well, you know, yeah, of course I go.
But you know, whether it's one, one woman that I know that she went out and hit the ball thousand times from the same spot, you know, I'm gonna hit that spot. I'm gonna hit that spot. And she did, she was able to do that right on her own. He goes, I need to get my friend to go out with me. He and I, and everything was, I need someone with me.
I need someone with me. I need someone with me, my daughter, on the other hand, she's very, she is very intrinsically motivated. I mean, she, they have this online training with her Olympic Development team and she just she's going out and doing it. She was leading the whatever leaderboard that they had. And they, you know, going back to the instruments like intrinsic extrinsic, [00:40:00] and some people be motivated by the leaderboard.
She didn't really care. She was just going out and doing that. The coaches then said, so she was she's one who will go out and she's out on her own doing her own thing, dialed into that. And whether her friends are there or not, doesn't matter, but just not as she loves friends and she loves having them, but it's not, that's not what is motivating her.
But interestingly, the code. That had this, this online thing was really struggling getting the Mo a lot of the girls to do it understandably so because a lot of them prior wired like my son, right. They just want to go out and play and with their friends and that's their driver, which is nothing wrong with that.
This coach says, all right, we're going to have swag awards for the top performers now. And it's going to be interesting for me to see, will that motivate more people to do it? Maybe. What do you think of that with that extrinsic motivator coming in? Is that a short-term thing that may have long-term impact that's unintended consequences or whether what's the research on that?
[00:40:57] Dan: Yeah. Well, when you said swag, [00:41:00] I, I mentioned you thought the thought of the work of Amanda and her brilliant work around research on why kids participate in sports. And I think I'm going to butcher this here, but her research basically came up with, you know, kids who are asked, why you plan to give them multiple choice of choices, 40 your choices.
And they came up with why they play their top five reasons. And one of which, which I think. Certainly from far higher than winning, which came very low down. But with swag I don't know, top 10 or something. So I immediately thought of that. It is a reward, right? It is a reward and that's, that is the the least.
So we go back to the work of Dessi and Ryan who've been studying motivation for 50 years and they really pioneered, but they changed the landscape of motivation from purely motivation being reward and punishment towards a continuum. And at the far end is reward and punishment. You know, if you don't, you know, you will receive this if, if you're [00:42:00] successful, you know, strive to do this, to, to, to receive this.
And obviously punishment is the is the other side of that, right? Then steady extrinsic, but slightly of better quality is guilt. Doing it for, if I don't do it, I feel guilty. If I do it, I feel pride. Then, then, then it goes on to I, I entity, I want to say here I identify with this so it's to do with identification and then still extrinsic is values.
I value this, I value this and then intrinsic motivation because intrinsic motivation is quite small and it's purely about interest and enjoyment. So what Dessi and Ryan rhino saying, it's not the extrinsic. Motivation is bad. It's just a lesser quality. It can still motivate you. It's just a lesser quality.
And so what you might, the reason I'm answering it this way, my always very long winded ways. You might find it clearly. That is going to motivate. People depend some kids, depending on whether they find that [00:43:00] motivating. However, the duration and the intensity and the duration of that intensity of motivation will possibly dwindle.
And that's what the research is based on is that they might be motivated to win that swag straight away, but over time that motivation will possibly dissipate. So the highest form of motivation is I do this because I'm interested in it. I do this because I enjoy it. And so really for me, when I work with coaches, I'm saying, well, how can we, how do we tap into player interest?
What, what is it about the game that interests them? What, what parts of the game interests them? What are the, what parts of the game do they enjoy? They're clearly, if you're functioning at the very highest level, there are always going to be parts that don't interest them and they don't enjoy. And that's just the reality of it, but still working on values and identity and things like that.
That's, that's still, that's extrinsic motivation, but those are still better quality forms of motivation than than, than reward and punishment. So I, I say [00:44:00] it can work for some, it might just be fleeting. That's all. And that's that's yeah, that's the dynamic of it.
[00:44:08] Phil: It's kind of that idea of a, one of my favorite quotes, CS Lewis duty is a substitute for love, right?
This idea of, you know, the have to versus get to mentality. I just talk with somebody about that. And he worked with John wooden for a decade or so, and he talked, that was one of his big things. I talk about that all the time, that idea of the have to versus the, get to write that guilt versus the, you get to.
Right. I mean, it's, it's even just saying those words helps people be motivated better. I get to do this today. I get to do this today rather than I have to go to work. I get to go to work.
[00:44:41] Dan: And I think there's some really interesting things that I love, that I love that CS Lewis quote, and I loved the conversation you had with that person there.
And I think they get to feels more. Can be, can be healthy and safe, safer can tap into curiosity. And there's more [00:45:00] in the last 20 years. There's more and more research coming out, say more and more. It's still early around having open goals. What is called open goals rather than sort of fixed outcome or performance goals, open goals being, I'm just going to see how this goes here.
Yeah. I'm going to engage in this and I'm just going to see how it goes and actually what you're doing, that that feels quite fluffy, but you're just, you're you're. You're just exploring, you're exploring it. I'm not saying that's right for everybody and it's not right for this might be right for some people.
Some of the time in some domains is right for me in some things and not right for me in other things. So it reminds me of what you're saying now, open costs. And then the converse of that is with the, have to, I have to do this, I've set these objects. I have to do it. It can, that can be useful because that can focus your attention.
You can, it can motivate you and focus yourself, but equally that can be a source of stress and anxiety. And that could actually create burnout. Take you away from your sport [00:46:00] means that you become avoidant or you self handicap. So you feign injury and stuff like that. You see that all the time in pro sport.
Or you just, you experienced anxiety around it, so you drop out as well. So it's, it's that this is where it becomes complex. Yeah,
[00:46:18] Phil: absolutely. Well, that's, it reminds me too, of the idea of pre failing. Right? You just talked about that, right? Where you, you, you a lot. And I saw this a lot with my daughter where she would quit something when it became really hard, because if she decided to do it, then that was her decision.
But if she didn't make the team, then that was failure. Right. So this idea of pre failure, I don't know if there's some, there's probably some more, a scientific name for it, but is that something that you've seen you see a lot of and I mean, what does that look like at the different levels?
[00:46:51] Dan: Yeah, I look, I perhaps in the moment struggling to think that the science underpins that I'll kick myself off this, but I, I, [00:47:00] you know, immediately, immediately makes me think of, you know, the cognitive scripts as a bit of science for you, the cognitive, the narrative, the inner story people and players have in and around the activities that they, that they engage in.
And, you know, the definitions that have, what is success? What is failure? You know? Yes. Why am I doing this? But what is success and what is failure? And really as a sports psychologist, I'm trying to broaden the definition of success. Look, Hey, I mean, it comes back to yeah. As a relation to motivational climate is goal orientation.
So what are your goals? What are you objectives here? Right. And, and, and maybe, maybe presumption here, but if your daughter, if she's just, just defining successes, I've got to be in the team. And Dan, I've got to be the best player. And then I've got to score goals and keep clean sheets. And I, and again, we come back to piling on anxiety here, what I do with counseling, even, even, even, even the premier league client, even the best players who, people [00:48:00] who might be construed as the best players in the world, I'm trying to broaden their narrative around outcome and performance and say, you know, less acts more tolerant on performance, maybe tougher on mindset.
Maybe tougher on tasks, controllable tasks, maybe tougher and mastery, but rarely, really a more tolerant on performance because we're so socialized, especially at the adult elite level, we're so socialized into and got up and got up and got a phone. Why am I doing this to get better? Why am I doing this to, you know, and that's the problem with the early professionalization or the early specialization or, you know, the narrative around that, which is what is sport for.
Wow. It's, you know, it's, it's. You dates to get good at this? Well, the problem there is what if I'm not getting good at it? And what if I'm not improving? Well, that's broadened out the definitions here. Now we can work as hard as, as we can that as coaches, but ultimately there's always going to be individual differences.
So your daughter, [00:49:00] for example, As a, as a, as a thought here, you know, could have a great coach who constantly reinforces the notion of participation and having an enjoying and tries to help her set task goals and is very much a motivational climate around mastery and task. And still, it just might be the nature of your daughter, who, where she, she has a little bit of perfect perfectionist streak.
So the personality characteristic of conscientiousness and very high conscientiousness can lead to a maladaptive relationship with, you know, activities that she's trying to be. Perfection is perfection, but got a, got to do a, got to do, got to, got to succeed. That sort of type as a type, a personality. You go back to the work from 1950s.
Can't remember who it was now. So, you know, We can do all that we can as coaches, but we've still got to cope with individual differences and that's challenging. And then we've got to get in there and help, you know, help people to [00:50:00] change their narratives a little bit so that they can enjoy themselves.
[00:50:03] Phil: Absolutely. And, and now I'm gonna take a step way back from the players and from the, how we coach the team and go to the, you know, something, we were launching a coaching, the bigger game program coming up, basically coaching the people's side of the game for coaches on the big picture on the, the, the, what we're talking about today is, is a part of it.
We're only gonna hit at high levels, all the different aspects of it. But the first thing we focus on is self-leadership how much do you see a lot of these issues and mindset of these issues of unhealthy cultures stem from the coach, him or her. Being unhealthy themselves,
[00:50:42] Dan: unhealthy for themselves as
[00:50:44] Phil: well, just unhealthy from a mindset unhealthy from a, you know, in their, in who the, how they're wired, that they don't really see how people perceive them.
They don't even understand what their, why is. They don't understand who they are really. And, and how they're, how they [00:51:00] are being perceived by their team.
[00:51:03] Dan: I think that, let me, let me frame frame this in terms of preferred to come to accusatory yet. No. Yeah. And I'm not saying name. No, no, but I think, I think it's so important to recognize coating is tough.
It's hot. 99% of coaches are either volunteer or they're. You know, that there's more opportunities in America to, to, to, to certainly coach soccer full time, the any other country in the world. So I say, as recognizing that for some coaches, there's less excused, they should be developing themselves better in my opinion, without yeah, very respectfully.
I but that start will understand that coaching is, is one of the toughest hobbies or professionals that you can engage it. So, so there's that I think that we in psychology is coach developers and it's kinda acquisition have to continue to get better at what we do continue to be able to communicate our [00:52:00] message better to help coaches understand people, understand players and P people as in the participant. Players is in the learner. Performers and the competitor we have.
Coaches understand those landscapes. I think so saying that where I think most maladaptive unhelpfulness lives is really embedded in the stuff that we've spoken about so far, that there is that coaches will get involved in coaching because perhaps their definition of it or that lens of it is through the eyes of Phil Jackson or bill Belichick or pep Guardiola.
And that's kind of how they perceive this and I'm kind of character caricature in this, but that that's, [00:53:00] they look at the adult league game, which in America, there's a lot of entertainment around this, right. That the coach charging up a downer. But that's not to say that doesn't happen in Europe. It happens a lot in soccer, but I wonder if that happened. I also, as I said earlier, socialized into outcome and performance and communication around those things and a lot of the nuance and the complexity around the things that we've spoken about, psychologically informed environments, motivational, clumps, et cetera, et cetera, all those things, autonomy, supportive, coaching, learning, how people learn, how to deliver direct instruction, instruction.
Game-based approaches teaching games for understanding a lot of this literature just, it's just not there for coaches. Yeah. And that, that, that that's. So we kind of got to forgive them, but we got to find a way to help them. And I think that that's where a lot of the ML adaptiveness comes from, I think kind of alluding to you, alluded to what I would categorize as self [00:54:00] skills, you know, that self-awareness piece.
And almost wonder sometimes if that. You know, rife through the world of coaching is a slight, not lack of professionalism, but really when we almost need better educational routes that help coaches become almost a charted coaches. So they're more organized and they have those self skills in place.
And when I say self skews, if I think about the self-awareness piece, I'm not just talking, you know, I'm talking about domain specific knowledge, you know, one of my coaching beliefs organizing that, what, what what do I want to achieve? What do we want to achieve organizing that, but also self skills around personality characteristics. You know, having a roadmap for yourself as a coach. Being self-aware around behaviors and stuff like the stuff you said.
It's often a missing piece, [00:55:00] as well as the stuff that I've spoken about, but isn't that quite endemic across everybody, you know, it's like self skills are, they're hard. They're tough. They're I've got to be self-aware and I've got to be able to self control and I've got to self-reflect and I've got to self-develop those sort of four main self skills that I would write about and that that's, that's a skill in and of itself.
There's some personality science out there to suggest that actually some people possibly won't become self-aware that it can get some shift, but not loads of shift. And that's to do. The hormones that we release chemicals in a way our brain is structured in w wired into our DNA. That's the personality characteristic of, of openness.
So yeah, I, I think it's a complex, it's a tough [00:56:00] landscape that one, but I do think it's part of training. We need to develop selves. We need to give coaches the opportunity to develop self skills. We need to give them the opportunity to develop those bio-psycho-social things around their practice related to the stuff we've spoken about already.
And we need to be better at helping them do that. Find platforms to help them and deliver it in a manner that is understandable for them, which pans up, maybe even in the last hour at times I haven't done very well. So it's, it's, we're all trying to get better at that.
[00:56:31] Phil: Yeah, absolutely. All right. I know we we could go on for hours and hours and hours.
I've covered a few more questions I want to ask and a couple ask everybody, but the first is going back basically on this, on this idea, but what, what is your personal, why, what is your, what is your purpose that you have and how I'd imagine you're living it out by doing what you're doing, but what does that look like for you?
[00:56:55] Dan: I would say that I'm, it's interesting, you know, not in sports [00:57:00] psychology. We often talk about the importance of writing things down and having a plan. And I'm not a big writer. I'm not a big writer of sort of having that plan. And this is what I, what I'm trying to do. But I think if I was to try to articulate that, I would just say, I'm just trying to be as curious.
I'm curious about how good I can possibly be at what I do. I'm trying to do that in as healthy and safe a way as I possibly can for myself and for my family. I think that's how I would, you know, it's several, I think it's three parts. It's how curious about how good I can be. Not necessarily saying I have to get here.
I have to be there. I have to work with this team because there's just so much of that is out of your control and in the eye of the beholder. How good do I feel like how good can I become an app is in my, I have a whole, it's my perception of that. How healthy and safe can I do that? [00:58:00] And because I, well more, I'm understanding that high performance requires a balance.
Sometimes you gotta be working your backside off because that's, you got to bring home the bread bread. Right. And you know, sometimes I don't like the word grind, but you've got to put long hours and I do. This is my life. This is a massive part of it, but we've also got to have time for other things and family where, where we can.
So I think that's for me that the healthy and safe part of it healthy and safe for me and family. So that's how I would as possibly what I would say to that. Right.
[00:58:38] Phil: All right. Okay. You you've had this quote for me and I just want you to, in as quickly as you can, this is kind of a speed round. So we're going to, we're going to do the, the Dan Abrahams speed round, which may not be as speedy as is.
But um, You said, I don't think I don't think you coach difficult players. You teach them to coach themselves by asking great questions. And this goes into that [00:59:00] idea, this idea of motivational interviewing as well. So what is the, you know, three, four minute version of how you would expand on that?
You don't coach difficult as you teach them to coach themselves by asking great questions,
[00:59:13] Dan: depending on what the difficulty is. But I think a big part of difficult players can tend to be if difficult is the right word. It can't can tend to be pledged who does lie, who know their own mind. They're quite lower Greer book, agreeableness, psychology personality, they're quite low agreeableness.
Often they know their own mind. And so that's great, fine, because I get a lot of coaches say to me, well, how do I coach this player? And I'd say, well, don't. Do this in a very non or do this. If, if, if you're going to coach do it in a non-directive manner. So for instance, sit in front of film, set in front of video with them and ask them what they're looking at, their, what they're thinking about and why they're doing what they're doing and what their schematic schematic of the game in the world is right there.
And then ask for their [01:00:00] permission to make some suggestions. And you can do this in a very light way, you know, just, Hey I've noticed this, obviously our principals are playing our game model is Dez. You know, that's why, you know, we think that this could be a better movement here or a better action or a better thing to execute.
What's your thoughts on that? So really you're start with giving them the opportunity. Tell you their world and what they think and go along with a lot of that. Great, fine, fantastic. Then start to make suggestions. Don't insist because you're assessed and they, of all people will resist. What do you think of these?
You know, I love those ideas. I understand what you're saying. I see this a, we see this as a coaching staff, the reason why we see it, it's because of these principles that plays in game model. So back it up with evidence and then come with, do you have permission? What do you think of that? Do you give [01:01:00] me permission to work on this with you to include into the staff that you know is best for you.
I think that's good. Non-directive coaching and that's where you need to start. And that's, I think how you build trust with players who tend to be disagreeable around being coached to finish off here. I think I'm doing this under four minutes. I would say that one of the things that winds me up the most, there are absolutely players who are so disagreeable that could be construed as uncoachable.
I, I, I, that probably does exist, but what winds me up is on Twitter, this notion of, oh, you got to be coachable, you've got to be coachable. You've got to be coachable or you can't be uncoachable. And it's just like, no, man. Sometimes you want to have players who push back cause they make. Better. They make you go out and find out more knowledge and or they make you go out and find better coaching processes.
Like I've talked about that help you to coach them. Don't just want players to be coachable because that's the easy [01:02:00] way out. And it will never exist that everybody is coachable. That's not the way human beings function. And I could go into personality sites there, but I won't, because I know you want this in under 14 minute, four minutes, so we're done.
[01:02:11] Phil: Wow. I, you know, I, I love personality stuff as well. I mean, we'd, we train all, you know, it was in the disc and, you know, it's cause it's simple. But you know, that, that idea, I mean, that's. I've talked with the coach, my coach who gone disc is a high C he's very task. He's just driven task. He's reserved.
He's not. And he struggles a lot with it. So we, we did disc and I, he continually is coming. This is high school girls, as I say, if it can work with high school girls that can work with anybody. Right. And and we, we talk about it and he comes to me, he says, I helped me understand this person because you know, he's not a people person.
And so he does struggle with that more and more. And so, but he's trying, and he's like you said, it's helping him be a better coach having these, you know, what for him is very [01:03:00] difficult is not as difficult for me because I get it more. Right. So that's interesting too, is that depending on your personality as a coach, it may be that difficult means different things than at then the other coach.
Right? Cause that outgoing goofball for me, I connect with and it drives him crazy. Right. And the super intense doesn't talk a whole lot person. I'm like, I don't get you. I don't understand how do you, and he's like, he's dialed in. Right. And so, I mean, I dunno, give a couple more minutes on that. Why do you think?
[01:03:35] Dan: Yeah, I, I th I think that, I think that it comes under the banner of psychologically informed environments, psychologically informed environment, a pie pie. So of course, looking for an environment is one that takes into account the thoughts, emotions, personalities, past experiences, and cultures of the players of the [01:04:00] people in.
In your team and your club in your organization. I think you've got to do that. I think you've got to, you've got to do that with reference to yourself as a person, as a as a coach. So I think that's absolutely vital. It's being a student of yourself and a student of, of the people in your team, in your club, in your organization.
And ultimately what we know from personality science is that you know, if I was to take the big five and that's openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism you know, obviously personality development is a little bit more complex than that, but if you take those five traits, then there can be a clash.
I'm quite high agreeable more often than not there's times when I can be low agreeable, but I can quite high agreeable. And I find very low agreeable Platt people and players when I come across them challenging it taps into my neuroticism. So I it's, it creates a bit of anxiety and I can withdraw neuroticism is about withdrawing going away from or going towards, you know, so I [01:05:00] can withdraw.
So, having a, you know, what, w w what I heard you say really is having an understanding a reasonable understanding of yourself and have a reasonable understanding of the people in your team. Organization have some kind of vehicle to do that. Whether it's some form of tasks like you're talking about and, or at least have conversations with those people and or with your fellow coaching staff, if you have the luxury, the resources of having for that coaching stuff and try to have something that underpins that conversation that you know, that you use DISC.
And I might use Entyvio or something else, just something where, where we can have more informed conversation, but you, it, if we don't have that, then we constantly just think about task and outcome and performance and, you know, we're missing the person. So I think psychologically informed environment where we [01:06:00] take into account the person underpinning the player and the performer is really important.
[01:06:05] Phil: Absolutely. Now. I love that. I love that. And I, and it takes time. Right. And, and I do think going back to the both, and it's not just do an assessment and say, okay, now I know, you know, of course not. That's, that's the beginning of relationship, which is what it's going to take, but you got, again, you got to know yourself, how you're wired, how you're perceived, you got to know them, which takes, it takes time to know self.
It takes time to know the other. And if you have, you know, 20 or so kids on a team, it takes time to get to know them individually before you can really fully understand how you can make them a great team together. So, you know, and, and that takes time and it takes energy. It takes resources. And we too often skip to, let's just be a great team.
And, and that typically is a shortcut that, that has detrimental effect. So again, we don't have time to go [01:07:00] as deep into that as I'd like to, maybe we can get you on some other time. We can talk about it. But one question, if this is longer than a quick answer then, which, which it probably is, but is there in your professional opinion, is it possible to recreate the stress and pressure of a penalty kick in a training environment?
[01:07:21] Dan: Not a hundred percent. Well, I th th this is the challenge you want, because it just depends on how one defines the emotional load that you can put on somebody as a, as a result of say a consequence. So I think look, how, how can you, if we practice penalties, we can just practice a penalty. We can practice a penalty.
With a routine, let's say so as a sports psychologist, I might help her penalty take or a penalty taker, develop a routine that helps them you know, manage concentration and commitment and confidence and stuff and all those kind of psychological [01:08:00] skills. And then what you can do is add a consequence to that penalty in practice.
So that consequence is designed to try to create an emotional load at a sense of anxiety, maybe a doubt, maybe a worry. So the kind of unhelpful emotions that one might experience when one's actually taking a penalty on the field of play for real, whether in the game or it's a penalty shooter. And so what can those consequences look like?
It can be, look, it could be something like, if you missed, then you've got to wash your coach's car, which I think has got something like that is quite cool because it's, it's not monetary it's, which tends to be the go-to thing. And it's not so much that it will make you nervous. It's just a pain in the backside when you mess.[01:09:00]
So I quite like that kind of thing. I've seen it done whereby a consequence was. To be able to give up if you know, the play who messes gives up their phone and teammates can text one person from the phone book, which I think that's, that's be clear ethically one. Wouldn't do that with very young players.
And I've even had somebody coach at the elite level, shout back at me and say, I am not embarrassing some of the best players in the world. So it was like, okay, then we won't do that. So, so, so, so you, you, and so it's finding useful consequences that you can put into a game where you're doing penalties amongst teammates, and of course, historically consequences, often being punishment and rewards punish, you know, go, go for a run, but that's not really creating much of an an emotional load and I'm getting around to completely answering your.[01:10:00]
In the way I tend to slowly, because I think ultimately if I said to you, fel let's have a penalty, let's practice your penalties. And then, you know, what, if you miss you're going to pay me 10,000 pounds or $10,000. Now, you know, depending on one's wealth, let's call it a hundred thousand. It's called a half a mil.
You know, you're gonna, you can create an emotional load with that kind of money, but you can't really play about with that kind of money. That would be maybe the only comparison one might say that's still subjective. What I would say is the accurate answer to your question is no, you can't. But you can still do things that are going to represent the kind of behaviors that you want to execute in that pressured environment.
And you can still turn up the volume of pressure so you can make [01:11:00] it as representative more or more representative and more of an AF what we call it, affective learning, design effect, being, feeling. Those are the two things, make it representative by making sure the players have to go through the behaviors that they'll have to go through in the game.
And as effective as an add a consequence. Yeah, of course, historically, we've talked about adding the crowd noise or things like that. How much difference that makes maybe, I don't know, but those would be the two things. I want players to practice penalties with a routine and then some kind of emotional load, but that emotional load will probably not be the same as on game day.
[01:11:43] Phil: No, I just, I just remember the world cup when the Dutch team stepped up and hit side net five times in a row without even looking at the keeper and I just go, how did they get there? Because clearly
[01:11:56] Dan: I'm an Englishman, I'm an Englishman. So we don't know [01:12:00] where the words we're better now because Gareth and Dr.
Ian Mitchell are they're great at what they do, but,
[01:12:06] Phil: but we won't talk about the last, the last one. All right. Last two questions. We ask everybody, what, what a lesson have you learned? What is the one lesson that they learned directly from the game? It can be soccer. It could be, I'll speak golf since you were pro golfer, but directly from the game that you use in your in your family that you use in the relationships there
[01:12:28] Dan: probably self-awareness and patience, probably those two, just, just, those would be the biggest ones.
Just be aware of myself, my behaviors. Yeah, especially from a metacognition. That's the science to metacognition, you know, thinking about my thinking, thinking about my behavior to reflecting on those being self, self reflecting. So I improve my, build my self awareness self. Hey, I'm making this up as I go along self skills.
So [01:13:00] all of those things, and so to self-awareness is designed to w w Y the reason human beings have self-awareness is for self-control. And so to be self-aware of myself, to be able to engage in self-control, to be able to have the best possible relationship I can have with my family. It really is. As simple as that, I would say that, that I think would be the main thing.
[01:13:23] Phil: Absolutely. Alrighty. Last question. What have you read, watched or listened to that has informed your thinking on how soccer or other sports or golf, whatever explains life and leadership.
[01:13:34] Dan: Oh, that's it. That's your heart? You left the hardest one to the last what am I read, watched or listened to.
You know what
I don't know if I'm answering your question habit. Just really everything to do with my own podcast and I'm not shamelessly plugging that, but just, just, okay. So I think that before I did my podcast, I [01:14:00] was probably a little bit that me who this comes across in the right way, I felt, I knew quite a lot about quite a lot of things related to what I do.
And then I do my podcast and I realize, I, I know a bit, but I don't know that much. And so that's really helped me. Helped shape how I see my job today in soccer and other sports, and probably explains life and leadership in as much as we know a bit, but we don't know that much. And we're always cliche to say, but we're always learning and striving to improve.
It's okay. If we don't always improve there's don't care if we don't always learn. But I think that would be at, is being humble enough to know that, you know, a bit, but not that much. And there's lots of people out there who can help you understand things that you might lots of lenses and lots of viewpoints.
I think that would be the number one thing. And, and just, if I may number two things thing [01:15:00]would be that healthy and safe scenario that, that, that balance where possible, I think we can be greedy. I will sum it up by saying, I think we can be greedy for performance and well-being. I think that that's possible. And I think on both sides of the Atlantic in the Western world, I think that we think that we can't have both and that success is predicated purely on a will to perform.
But I think that we can have both together.
[01:15:41] Phil: All right. Good stuff. Good stuff. All right. No, and I love what you said there. I mean, we go back to leaders are learners right. Absolutely. What you talked about there. And I get it because I've done my podcasts or for the last six years or so, this podcast is been going for the last year and a half.
And I did one in the orphan care world where [01:16:00] now that's my, it's my day job. And like you said, been able to learn from incredibly brilliant people in these areas and, and, and this for leaders out there, one and coaches like, know what you don't know. That's a really important thing to do is to say, I don't know, is a, is a very healthy, good thing to do because then it helps you remember that you don't know, and you can go and learn and find the people who know more than you.
And that's what we talk about in team where we are better together. Yeah. That's a cliche and it's kind of cheesy, but it's true. Right. And if we, if we don't believe that and we don't go out and seek that, then we're going to miss so much. And I love what you said. It's like, yeah. I mean, people do come to you and you do know.
You've been probably more than 99% of the people, 99.9% of the people in the world on this stuff. But there's still that 0.1 that we can learn from. Right. And even in what we are masters in, like if you say as a soccer player, I'm the best in the worlds. I don't need to train. Well, it doesn't [01:17:00] work that way.
Right. You can always get better, you can always learn. And so I love that. Absolutely love that. And all right, well, thank you so much, Dan, for for being a part of this show. Thank you for what you're doing. Thank you for just, you know, coming on and having this good conversation. I appreciate.
[01:17:15] Dan: I was honored and delighted to do it.
Thank you so much for the invite, Phil.
[01:17:18] Phil: Absolutely. All right, folks. Well, thanks again for for being a part of this, the conversation I, if you have any questions, I encourage you to say email me, Phil@howsoccerexplainsleadership.com. Check out the Facebook group and ask questions there as well. We do have the Coaching the Bigger Game program.
If you're interested, coachingthebiggergame.com, check that out. We'll have all the links for Dan's information, his books, his, his podcast, and his website on the show notes. If you're interested in warrior way, which Paul Jobson my co-host is doing with his wife, Marci, you can check that out at jobsonsoccer.com and as always, I just hope that you're taking what you're learning from this show, and you're using it to help you be a better [01:18:00] spouse, a better parent, a better leader, better just in everything that you're doing in your friendships.
And you do use it to help remind you that soccer does explain life and leadership. Thanks a lot. Have a great week.
In Episode 62, we are capping off 2021 and ringing in 2022 with 20 great leadership lessons (plus a couple bonus nuggets) from our interviews over the past year. There is so much more wisdom in the full interviews, which …