Introduction:- How I Work...,
Who Am I ?
My name is Sergio, but everyone calls me Slim. In the past I've worked with the likes of Bolo Zenden, Franck Queudreu and Massimo Maccarone during their time under Steve McClaren at Middlesbrough, and Chris Porter when he was at York City.
Unfortunately I can't tell you who my list of clients are at the moment as I work alone, behind the scenes, and without the clubs knowledge.
What Am I ?
This is a question which I get asked all the time, but I've yet to find a suitable answer. But I hope that this introduction will give you some insight as to what I do and the way I work. I'll go into exact details over the coming weeks and month’s.
Put simply. I'm a bit of a fix it man. Players call me when they feel they need help and after listening to them I fix the things that I deem need fixing. This is why I work alone, and without any interference from clubs, or other coach’s.
To achieve this I always adopt the same approach that ensured that Ferrari absolutely dominated every single aspect of formula 1 in recent years, winning 6 consecutive constructors titles, and 5 consecutive drivers titles. Ferrari's success lay in their never ending quest for higher and higher levels of performance through continuous self analysis at every level, right the way up to the big chief, Mr Montezzemolo himself.
In essence, the question that's always at the very forefront of absolutely anything and everything I do on a daily basis as a sports coach, is, how can I improve, what more can I do ?
During those years of absolute domination, Ferrari continuously took apart every single piece of the car and they'd simply not rest until they found an improvement, no matter how minutely small it was. Then, when they put it back together, all those minutely small improvements all came together as one to make the winning difference.
This is what I do. I analyse absolutely every single aspect of what one player does over a period of weeks, then I take everything they do apart and find any improvement no matter how small. Then I put it all back together and implement my own system that ensures that all the new modifications stick firmly in place in their heads forever.
“ True “ attention to detail is the key to obtaining this success, with emphasis on the word, " true ". True attention to detail means doing exactly what Ferrari did.
So let's start with some basic examples. Again, I'll go into every aspect of this analysis in precise detail in the weeks and months to come.
So, I'm in the stands watching one of my players. I'm only watching the one player that I'm working with because I only work with one player at a time. I write down every single thing he does. I do this, game, after game, after game until I'm happy that I've amassed all the information I need.
But what do I see ?
I see a player, who through force of habit, puts his hands on his hips all throughout the game. This indicates tiredness, which indicates weakness and so gives the advantage to the other side. So this has to stop.
I see a player who heads the ball, or tackles. He's got the technique and the ability, but he isn't exploding onto that one ball each and every single time. As a result he's lost the opportunity to define himself. He's lost the opportunity to stand out. So this has to change.
I see a player who's fouled, but who's not injured. The player wastes too much time checking to see if he's ok when he knows he is, or arguing with the referee because he knows he's made a mistake and wants to deflect attention away from this fact. This indicates both a lack of mental and physical strength. It indicates weakness that the opposition will simply exploit to their own advantage. Yet again,another opportunity of defining himself and standing out has been lost, and now he's in trouble. Why? Simple. This attitude can lead to frustration which in turn leads to a lack of concentration. Mistakes will be the natural result. So this too simply must change.
I see a player who misses the opportunity to score and as a result begins to lose confidence and starts to fall apart, instead of reacting, psyching himself up, and refocusing.
I see a player who warms up and is simply going through the usual motions. He's either watching the game or smiling to his friend in the crowd. There's no real attention to detail to what he's doing and there's no real mental preparation. I then see the player come on as a substitute and instead of focusing and psyching himself up he's laughing and joking with the third official. No. No. No. This is simply all wrong. This is not the way to do things. Possible injury and the usual up and down performance are the inevitable results. The list goes on and on and on.
Success is born in the mind and it comes from the heart. Every single thing this player does and says on that pitch, and how he does it and says it can have either a negative effect, or it can have a positive effect. It’s up to him to decide which road he wants to take. Give absolutely everything YOU'VE to give each and every single time and YOU stand out. YOU define who YOU are. Give it anything less andYOU simply blend in and become just another talented footballer.
Heart. Hunger. Desire. Passion. But not just for some of the game. No. For all of it. Not just for two or three games in a row, or just against the, " Big Clubs ". No. Heart. Hunger. Desire. Passion - Today. Tomorrow. ALWAYS. This is not sports psychology. This is a mentality. This is a philosophy. This is a way of life. It defines who we are as people in any walk of life. It’s what separates the true winners from everyone else.
" There's No I In TEAM ". Whoever dreamed this saying up really does need shooting and you must erase this rubbish from your memory as quickly as possible, as this is absolutely the wrong mentality, forcing you to think in wholly the wrong way. Without truly focusing on the, " I " there can never, never be a, " Team ". This is straight from the theory books and it simply has absolutely no place in the real world. Writing this rubbish on the walls of the dressing room isn't the way to inspire people to want to be all that they can be. This is not the way to make players dare to dream again.
The questions each and every player should be asking themselves on a daily basis are these. How can I improve ? What more can I do? What do I need to do in training today that I didn't do in training yesterday to ensure that I'm better than I was yesterday? How can I help those around me to do the same? How can I be better than I was yesterday ?
Ask any football player after a heavy loss the following question, and sadly, the answer's nearly always the same. " How Did You Play Today ? "..., " The Team Was Rubbish. " This answer clearly demonstrates the way footballers become entrenched into a never ending web of footballing thinking. I never asked him how the damn team played. I asked how he played. He could've still fought to the bitter end with the fighting, “ Spirit “ of Rocky Balboa. He could've still made sure that his passing, his tackling, his heading, his chasing back and his heart, hunger, desire and passion were all elevated to their absolute maximum, even if those around him hadn't. He could've chased that lost cause until the final whistle inspiring others to do the same. He could've tried to raise the crowd - the fabled 12th man. He could've made a real difference. But He Didn't. This is where the difference lies, and this is what, " Defines " people like Roy Keane, Vinny Jones, Gennaro Gattuso, Stuart Pearce, and Chris Porter of York City, and this is what makes them so very, very special.
You've either got it or you haven't, I hear you cry. Rubbish. When you focus the mind and truly believe in yourself with all your heart, even when those around you don't, absolutely anything becomes possible, absolutely anything.
If you'd have asked Boro fans when Massimo arrived at the club if Massimo had this fighting, " Spirit " of Rocky, they'd have laughed in your face, as he was your stereotypical falling over at the slightest touch Italian footballer. If you'd have asked them the very same question through the UEFA Cup and through the following seasons, then I’m sure that their answer would've be very much different.
Heart. Hunger. Desire. Passion. Today. Tomorrow. ALWAYS. Just words? No. Absolutely not. It’s a mentality. It’s a philosophy. It’s a way of life. It’s what drives the very best from deep within them, each and every single minute of the day. It’s what separates these people, the very best, from all the rest. Success is born in the mind and it comes from the heart. When YOU truly believe in YOURSELF with allYOUR heart, even when all those around YOU don’t, absolutely anything is possible, absolutely anything.
These are the things that need to be instilled into players.
Players need to be inspired and players need to dare to dream again if you want to bring out the very best in them. It’s up to the people coaching the players to make this happen. Remember. There's no such thing as a bad student. No. There are only bad teachers.
This is what I do.
It's not about money or the V.I.P. lifestyle and it never will be. It's only ever about YOU and the dreams that YOU carry in YOUR heart and it always will be. If YOU truly want it, YOU have to make it happen YOURSELF.
The race to the national team is long, but in the end, it's only ever a race against YOURSELF.
So, in closing, just ask yourself this one simple question.
What are YOU prepared to do to make YOUR dreams come true ?
Thank you for your time.