Paul Roos and the psychology of football

I love the way Paul Roos addresses the psychology of football. He must be one of the smartest coaches going around.

I just heard him on the radio talking about how difficult it is for young footballers to maintain the intensity required in AFL week in, week out, for what is a very long and demanding season.

This is such a clever and compassionate thing to do. In any field of endeavour, if you are facing it alone, the world can feel like a very unfriendly place. To have a senior colleague, such as your coach, acknowledging the difficulty of what you are attempting, while at the same time expressing faith in you, must give those young footballers a real lift. They know they are not alone, they know that somebody believes in them as they struggle to maintain the highest possible standards on a daily basis.

A few weeks ago Caroline Wilson criticised Roos for sounding detached – talking about ‘them’ rather than ‘us’. I thought that, while this was in itself a fascinating observation, it was very tough and, in point of fact, probably wrong.

Roos is walking a knife edge at Melbourne. He needs to retain a degree of detachment from the club, or else it is likely to swallow him up in the same black hole that so many previous coaches have disappeared into. On the other hand, if he takes it too far he will cop flak – as he has indeed already done.

To top it all off, he is probably very unsure himself exactly how much and for long he wants to commit himself to the club.

The early results are very promising – much more so than any long term Demon supporter ever had any right to expect.

Roos knows full well that modern football is as much about brain as brawn – probably a lot more so. It would appear that he is an absolute master at knowing what goes on inside the brain of the average footballer, especially the young ones, and how to bring out the best in them.

More power to him!

About Stephen Whiteside

Stephen Whiteside is primarily a writer of rhyming verse. He has been writing for over thirty years, and writes for both adults and children. Many of his poems have been published in magazines and anthologies, both in Australia and overseas, or won awards. His collection of rhyming verse for children, "'The Billy That Died With Its Boots On' and Other Australian Verse", was published by Walker Books in May 2014. Stephen performs regularly at folk festivals around the country - mostly in Victoria. He is also a great fan of the Australian poet C. J. Dennis. He is a foundation member of the C. J. Dennis Society, and is closely involved in the organisation of the annual Toolangi C. J. Dennis Poetry Festival. Stephen is a long-suffering Melbourne supporter.

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