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At The Football Association, we encourage coaches to consider 4 corners of player development: technical, physical, psychological and social. Whilst it is likely that several ‘corners’ interact and combine together contributing to player (and coach) development, there is value in exploring some detail around each corner. From a psychological perspective The FA has adopted a ‘Five C’s’ Model that asks coaches to consider the psychological skills: commitment, communication, confidence, control and concentration.


For the purpose of this piece of writing, I would like the reader to think about commitment and in doing so consider how the following areas influence and contribute to a player's commitment to improve.


a. Personality b. Perseverance and Perceptiveness c. Performance Goals vs Learning Goals d. Practices


Personality There has been (and continues to be) much debate about nature vs nurture. Perhaps nature vs. nurture is dead and is ready to be replaced by nature shaped by nurture? Jeff McCrae proposed that our personality is comprised of five dimensions, pictured below, upon which people’s personality vary.


It has been proposed that 40-50% of the variation from person to person within a typical population is the effect of differences in genes (nature). It has been suggested that the traits on the right hand side are the most useful, however this view may have some flaws.


No doubt a player's commitment to improve may be greater if they are more open to new experiences but extroversion isn’t necessarily possessing of greater value than introversion. Nor being agreeable prized over being disagreeable.


Some research by Jeremy Kagan suggested that 20% of the population, genetically, are extreme introverts who find new and novel situations very stressful. On the flip side, it was also suggested that they demonstrated greater capacity to listen, had enhanced emotional intelligence and a greater conscientiousness/commitment in completing tasks – in the words of Susan Cain ‘quiet leadership is not an oxymoron’.


Furthermore, on the element of agreeableness, social and professional environments can frown upon disagreeableness yet new and transformational thinking is unlikely to progress without a desire to challenge convention. As George Bernard Shaw said “The reasonable person adapts themselves to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to themselves. Therefore all progress depends upon the unreasonable person.”


The challenge is perhaps for coaches to recognise the varying personalities in their squad, understand that some of this may be affected by genetics and that some of the personality traits we intuitively feel are unhelpful may actually bring value.


Jeff McCrae's Five Dimensions of Personality


Close-Minded Disorganised Introverted Disagreeable


Nervous/High-Strung


Open to new Experiences Conscientious Extraverted Agreeable Calm/Relaxed


*Example personality profile


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