Monday, 14 July 2014

3 big lessons from the 2014 World Cup Final

I know I promised top be back in the autumn and I just couldn't resist writing about some of the lessons that the 2014 World Cup taught us about performance in sport:

1. It takes time
Half of Germany's winning team last night played together in the victorius U21 team from Euro 2009. And even more were together in the squad that made the World Cup semi final in South Africa 4 years ago. And the pattern is repeated by the successful Spanish and Dutch teams in recent years. They came through the age group tournaments in groups and have a deep understanding of how to play together.

Much has been made of Spain being a Barca/Real composite team with Germany being essentially a Bayern/Dortmund composite and Netherlands being an Ajax/Feyenoord team. Selecting players who learnt their football in a small number of clubs re-inforces their familiarity even when the styles of those clubs are quite different. And these players also keep on improving - there is a strong desire to become ever better players backed up with a work ethic and learning mindset. Just how good Germany can be in 2 years time is frightening.

Takeout - it takes years to build a successful organisation, whether in sport or business.

2. Body language and mentality
Shortly after Germany scored the camera panned to Lionel Messi and the picture was one of resignation. His head and shoulders were down, the message he was giving off was 'we are beaten, no way back'. This may or may not be what was in his head (i'm no mind reader) but certainly that will be the signal his team mates will have picked up. We know that mind and body are so intertwined that with a physiology like that it beccomes harder to perform skills to a high level - try it yourself if in doubt.

So it was no surprise that with a minute to go and a nicely positioned free kick outside the German box Messi completely duffed it and sent the ball high over the bar. Compare that to the mentality of the Germans and Dutch earlier in the tournament - they kept going, always believing that they would get one more chance. Manchester United made a habit out of this - scoring in 'Fergie time' to win games.

Then towards the end as some German players started to get rattled by the hard Argentinian challenges Joachim Low was a picture of calm on the bench, keeping his men focused. We wouldn't like him in England - not 'passionate' enough. But just what a team needs when the pressure is building.

Takeout - Look and behave like you can and you probably will.

3. Tactical flexibility
The Dutch and the Germans showed immense tactical flexibility to exploit the weaknesses of opponents and nullify their strengths. Whether it was the Dutch with 5 at the back early on or Germany with Lahm holding in midfield in the early games then reverting to right back to provide more attacking threat the flexibility was exceptional. Indeed in the final the Germans were organised to play with Khedira in Midfield but had to adapt when Kramer had to start in his place and then changed it again when Kramer was replaced by Schürrle and Kroos dropped back. Even Argentina changed their attacking formation several times as Aguero came on, then Higuain went off. This sort of tactical flexibility in sport only comes with players who have an outstanding command of their skills and a deep trust in each other.

Takeout - whether you are driving a racing car, running a marathon or playing a World Cup Final you need to have supreme control of skills and focus on your job if you are going to have tactical flexibility that wins competitions.

1 comment:

Kacy said...

POwerful stuff Adrian, self mastery is crucial.
Personal Coaching