Discipline in Football
Discipline can mean different things to different people. Wether this is true or not, the word discipline (to me) derives from the word Disciple which means: “An adherent of the doctrines of another”. In the Army I was always told that to be a good leader you have to have been a good follower. In essence I saw myself as a disciple to my leader at the time. I saw my leader’s job as training me and others to act in accordance with a set of given rules.
Discipline comes in many forms. One needs to possess “Self Discipline” in order to fulfil certain tasks on a daily basis. E.g. get up and go to work every day and do things that one knows must be done regardless of how one feels about it. Then there is the discipline where punishment is inflicted by way of correction and training.
In the Army as a Sergeant-Major one bellows out orders and without question things get done, that is the Military way. Failure by soldiers to follow those orders resulted in punishment! In effect people were doing things because the HAD to as opposed to because they WANTED to.
In football, if one is a professional player earning a living from the game they follow the coach’s instructions or they suffer the consequences. I.e. get transferred. So they do things because they have to. Amateur players’ more often than not, outlay money just to play the game. What then becomes of discipline when many who pay to play may not be too conducive to a coach barking orders at them.
Having experienced cleaning football boots for senior players as an apprentice, and having been a “Disciple” and later a Military “Disciplinarian” I feel that discipline in football, and for that matter sport in general, is about setting realistic goals that are within the capabilities of ones charges. It is about being consistent with ones decisions. If at the start of the season a set of rules have been established then those rules must apply to everyone. Discipline is about being punctual; Discipline is about not letting your team mates down. Discipline is about following the match plan to the best of one’s ability. Discipline is being able to take the good with the bad even when you get asked to play in the reserves from time to time. Discipline is about showing respect to the referees even when you feel you have been hard done by. Discipline is when you know you have outplayed your opponent but your efforts were not reflected on the score board. Discipline is when you want to stick it to that same opponent upon whom you may have just got revenge upon but think the better of it. Discipline is about being a gracious loser and a humble winner. Discipline is the training effect of experience and adversity.
In my experience as a football coach discipline is very high on my priorities, but not to the extent that I stifle any natural talent that brings that something special to the team. Hard discipline is VITAL to success when it comes to playing systems and structures, but I encourage individual freedom within those systems and structures in an effort to let individual talent flow.
One way to test your discipline is to ask yourself, “Am I compromising my team mates”? Being part of a team is in itself a discipline. Together Everybody Achieves More!