An article by guest blogger,Vinicius Dos Santos. Vinicius is the author of our best selling book and DVD, the Brazilian Box Midfield.
Speaking from the heart to US Soccer on how to win the World Cup
The joy of the task of playing the game of soccer is its own reward. The performance of
the task is sufﬁcient to provide intrinsic reward itself. It is simply gratifying the act of
playing the game, with no need of external rewards for motivation purposes.
My concern with the youth is on the excessive emphasis on the assumption that
success is only possible thru external rewards. Modern studies about motivation and
drive, consider this approach outdated and much of what we used to believe about what
motivates us it isnʼt so anymore.
The operating system of youth soccer still believes that to improve performance and
generate excellence it is necessary to keep rewarding the good and punishing the bad -
all manipulated thru external-control. It may work for a short term boost but it sure does
harm long term performance by creating short term thinking, crush creativity, creates
dependency, creates possibility for unethical behavior (cheating), and expresses
someone elseʼs desires but the playerʼs one.
The reality is that soccer is much more a player driven sport than coach driven one. We
just keep denying the fact, in which intrinsic motivation has to be factor number one
when playing the game. So as it is everything in life.
For achievement of success and personal fulﬁllment the appropriate focus for younger
ages should concern less with external rewards that soccer brings (standings, records,
tournaments, State Cup, Regional and National competition) and more with the inherent
satisfaction by the simple act of playing the game. To play the game and beneﬁt from its
excitement, thrills and enjoyment results will come as consequence of quality time spent
with the game.
What matters is the desire to do things because they matter, we like it, because they are
part of something important. Player engagement is crucial to elevate performance. But if
they do not see soccer as passionate as we are discussing here, then the level of
commitment and performance will be lower.
So there is no need to hire a foreigner to coach the US National Team, send players to
play in the EPL to learn passion, copy Brazil, learn state-of-the-art tactics – in order to
dream of winning the World Cup.
In fact, for now forget WC results – it is not going to happen until this focus is shifted -
STOP THE DENIAL!
There is no foundation for that, when the existent foundation only focus on controlling
coaching from very young ages; external structure/organization; severe result driven
developmental programs and youth club curriculums; youth soccer clubs non proﬁt but
proﬁt organizations – along with low player engagement and low player autonomy.
True quality happens thru autonomous kids with the ball feeling direct connection from
their hearts to the game. That brings mastery, the desire to get better and better
because it matters.
Perhaps soccer authorities and renowned coaches already spot my view point, but canʼt
ﬁgure out how to do it. Maybe is too late to undo the way it is, since too many other
interests are involved.
The secret of high performance is that unseen intrinsic drive.
The drive to do something for the own sake of doing it, the drive to do things because
they are meaningful.
Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success!
VINICIUS DOS SANTOS
author of the best seller “The Brazilian Box Midﬁeld”