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The importance of GRIT as a predictor of success in football (soccer) and in life

I am a strong advocate of the research work by Dr. Angela Duckworth who developed a 12 question study to measure GRIT. You can take the test here.

The research work by Angela Lee Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania confirmed that the most significant predictor of success in kids isn’t social intelligence, good looks, physical health or IQ.

“It’s about having stamina, sticking with your future – day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years – and working really hard to make that future a reality.” (Caroline Adams Miller)

Duckworth argues that the best way to build grit in kids is to develop a “growth mindset”. The growth mindset was developed by Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist. Growth mindset is the belief that the ability to learn can change with effort. When kids understand the brain grows in response to challenge, they’re more likely to persevere when they fail. They cultivate grit when they know the qualities they need for success can be developed through dedication and effort. Learn More

Grit is defined as passion and perseverance in pursuit of long-term goals and will determine who succeeds at school, in sports and in life in general. GRIT as a key predictor of future success! .

Many people assume that attributes like speed and technical ability are at the top of any scouts list when they are evaluating the potential of talent. But contrary to popular belief, attitude and the ability to learn are key factors. If you do have the correct attitude and the ability and willingness to learn it does not matter how talented you are.You simply will not be capable of playing at the higher levels of the game.

I have watched academy training sessions at professional clubs in Europe where the most talented players technically have not followed the assigned warm-up, only played at the level they are capable of in small bursts and moaned at teammates around them. It is these players that are quickly passed over. The manager and coaching staff, after all, are looking for players they can count on, game in and game out, over a long stretch of time and not just in bursts. I remember reading an interview in FourFourTwo magazine with Liam Brady, who for a long time masterminded Arsenal’s youth- development system. He admitted that Jermaine Pennant — who had an inconsistent, checkered career at best as a pro — was in fact the most talented player to come through the famed Arsenal youth program, but never had the discipline to make it with this legendary club.

Talk to many professional players and they will tell you that their path to play at the highest levels of the game was paved with obstacles, in the form of many players who were judged at some point to be more talented than they were. Many of these players eventually fell by the wayside. They stopped learning and the others around them elevated their level of play to move above them.

I firmly believe that the players who have a true love of the game have a greater chance to play it at the highest levels. Training is, after all, hard work! There will be inevitable set-backs along the way such as injury, loss of form or being rejected. Players like Jamie Vardy at Leicester spent the majority of his early career in the lower leagues of English football. He had to support his lower-league income by working in a factory. But he kept going, always kept believing in himself, and he’s been rewarded by winning the league with Leicester City, becoming one of league's best strikers and representing his country.

Players like Vardy have had to work very hard to get where they are and have a good work ethic to keep learning and stay at the top of their game. There are five key attributes

that I like to encourage young players to work on in order to maximize their potential:

  • Take responsibility for your own attitude at all times. Ensure you set high standards both on and off the field of play.

  • Develop the ability to handle the ball under pressure. To prepare to play at the very highest level — a high level of proficiency will be required in this area.

  • Improve your ability to learn. The training environment represents a school of football, on this basis, you must be able to take on board information and apply it in training and in games.

  • Formulate your own vision of the game. The very best players see “pictures” before anybody else.You will have to display a certain level of game intelligence.

  • Whether you are attacking or defending, winning or losing, playing well or poorly, regardless of opposition or playing surface, in wind, rain, sleet or snow, you must have a desire to play the game

Some of these may surprise you, because they don’t focus too much on the actual physical aspects of play. But regardless, if young players can develop these types of attributes they will get identified and noticed for higher levels of play!


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1 Comment

Very true, Half way through her book, great blog.

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