Winning “Ugly” in Soccer

by Ivan Bobanovic | Last updated

There’s an age old adage that suggests winning ugly is still winning.  However, many teams and athletes alike are obsessed with this idea of winning perfectly.  Why is this?

Because athletes try too hard to be perfect in games/competitions, they ultimately sabotage their own success.  Rather than perform to win, they’re worried about the illusion of a perfect win.  The internal battle – the mental battle – that arises as a result of trying to be perfect rather than functional can ruin talent and success.

In soccer this translates into trying to score a beautiful goal.  Rather than take the open opportunity to shoot from 20 yards away, players will make extra passes and try to basically walk into the net with the ball.  Another example is players who are obsessed with this idea of turning a defender inside out with his/her moves rather than making the play that will progress the team forward.

This isn’t a Hollywood movie where you can rely on a script to make the play look perfect.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like or what people are saying, rely on what works.

There shouldn’t be this preconceived notion that you should score a certain amount of goals or even score those goals a certain way.  You practice a whole bunch throughout the year working on different facets of the game that will help you win.  You work on crossing, shooting and scoring.  You don’t work on cool moves, impossible passes and ridiculous attempts at goal.  Don’t get away from what you practice and, ultimately, from what works.

Lastly, don’t spin this idea of doing whatever it takes to in into a negative context.  I am certainly not an advocate of cheating and unethical behaviour.  Winning ugly means that you take on a functional mindset and not one of a perfectionist.

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