Defining a holistic approach.

  1. characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.

When different people analyse a goal, defensive blunder, or any other sort of footballing action, they come to different conclusions as to the cause. Some will say the striker scored because he was in form or confident, some will say it’s because of his impeccable technique, some will say it’s because Arsenal can’t defend. All of these people may be right, as football is such a complex interaction of physical, technical, mental, and tactical elements.


The FAs four corner model includes these, but divides mental into psychological and social. However, the visualisation separates these aspects into four distinct areas, where I believe they blend together, and a technical problem becomes a psychological problem which becomes a social problem so quickly that it’s hard to react in time if you view them as distinct areas. Imagine you have a player who is struggling with a technique, maybe their crossing. They might feel pressured by all the players in the box waiting for them, and that pressure may cause them to tense up and make further mistakes. They might bear the brunt of jokes after training, and lose confidence. The response to this negative cycle is often to avoid situations where they might have to use the technique they struggle with. This approach eventually cements avoidance as a reasonable coping strategy, which can lead to dropping out of the team or sport entirely.


How do you stop this cycle? You need to read your players. It’s a holistic view, and a humanistic one. Happy, confident players play better. You need to integrate elements of sports psychology into your training, as well as knowing the limits of your players’ physical, technical, and tactical abilities. What appears to be a lack of fitness may be depression, what appears to be a player abandoning his position may be one who is confused about his role, what appears to be a wound up player may actually be struggling to strike the ball where he wants it. Players should be treated as individuals, as players will interpret coaching behaviours differently. That’s why there’s no step-by-step guide to coaching!

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