Book review: One Goal – The mindset of winning soccer teams

One Goal

The mindset of winning soccer teams

Bill Beswick

Human Kinetics, 2016, p. 222

What I liked more in the book titled “One goal” by Bill Beswick is the great passion and competence that he shows in every chapter. The goal of this book is to describe why/how a psychologist has to be committed in this kind of job. The answer is that there are a lots of things to do, but only if you are passionate. This means that what you read inside, you cannot in any other book concerning performance psychology, because is coming from the application of the expertise and passion to a specific context. The second reason to read this book comes from the several professional examples that Beswick provides in each chapter. This approach is relevant because the young professional has to know that the consultant job with a team needs these skills. It means that our knowledge science-based need to be translated in terms to be useful in the everyday job with the team, the players and the head coach and probably with the team managers too. The book goes around a main focus based on two interrelated concepts: the positive environment supports the fighter mentality. Therefore the team has to share a unifying identity and culture and it must be very well clarified that the positive results come from this homogenous mindset and the viceversa is never true. So the team culture is based on common: effort, enthusiasm, execution and endurance. First the attitude, than any other specific competence (strength or focus or game schema).  At this regard, Beswick say:

“Arguably, the most successful team in international sport, the New Zealand All-Blacks rugby team, clean their own locker-room after the game, showing the humility that is common to many great teams.”

Another relevant topic concerns how the coach teach individual and collective responsibility, in the first part of the book there many ideas that a coach can use to work on it, to reach this important goal. In the second part the main topic is presented in the chapter titled “Fostering coachability.” It’s a key attitude to develop a winning career. The players’ progresses depends on their coachability, that is the relatively stable position to be involved in the process of continuous improvement independently from the current skills, performance level and roles. Another important point is related to the players’ personal accountability and I agree with the Beswick’s  Ten key elements of the accountability cycle (goals and standards, reminders, culture, learning environment, accepting justified criticism, regular feedback, thunderbolts, internal challenge, can’t do or won’t do?, accountability without blame). If the team and the coach will respect these rules they will show an higher threshold for alibis, becoming more accountable and successful.  As Michael Jordan said:

“the better players learn to say «I played bad but tomorrow I’ll play better». A lot of younger players are afraid to admit they have bad nights but everybody has bad nights and it’s how you rebound from those bad nights that dictates what kind of player you are going to be.”

The third part of the book is about competition and the key words are competing cohesively, the momentum, pressure, overcoming adversity, repeat success. Also in this section Beswick shows how to apply the psychologist’s professional skills to work with a constructive approach in the most competitiveness situations, because “pressure is nothing more that the shadow of a great opportunity.”

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