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Attitude can make or break a player

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Jack Ross | 10:03 UK time, Monday, 19 April 2010

It is an important stage of the season as championships are decided and promotion and relegation issues are resolved.

For most apprentice footballers, it is an equally crucial time as they await decisions regarding their possible promotion to professional contracts.

The harsh reality is that for many these contracts won't be forthcoming and they will be forced to re-evaluate, and seek to progress as a player at another club or another level.

When these young players reflect upon why such a decision has been made, they will undoubtedly pose questions of themselves and perhaps ponder as to whether their attitude was strong enough to warrant the opportunity of joining a first team squad.

I say this because if I think back to my own apprenticeship, one of the reasons why perhaps I did not stay on at Dundee at that time was my mind-set.

jackross595.jpgI am not saying it was a poor attitude, in fact if pushed I would say it was good.

However, only good in the sense that I carried out my off-field duties well, trained and played in the proper manner and prepared in a disciplined way for games.

At that time I believed that this was sufficient, but as I matured I realised that there were aspects missing from my approach that could have made all the difference.

One was my willingness to push my own boundaries physically. This is interesting because as a footballer you can almost drift along at a certain level of fitness as your day-to-day training will ensure you of a decent base level.

However, to give yourself an advantage you must be prepared to take yourself out of your comfort zone and go through the painful parts of training.

My attitude with respect to this probably didn't change until I was back playing Junior football. I certainly was not a stand-out player at this level when I initially joined the ranks and indeed sometimes found myself warming the bench.

Eventually, I made a determined effort to change this and try to take myself to a better level and initially this change was simply getting a bench press for my bedroom and going road running at nights.

There was nothing scientific or ground-breaking in my new approach but it certainly gave me a much more solid platform from which to try and re-launch my career, and also a new stronger attitude and one that has continued to evolve for the better.

The correct outlook in football is therefore vital, and encompasses so many aspects of the game.

Another area particularly relevant to me at the moment is a player's attitude to injury.

There is no question that players find mid to long-term injury difficult to deal with as the solitude and monotony of rehabilitation is a world away from the excitement of playing.

In that sense players such as my own team-mate Tam Brighton and Jon Daly at Dundee United deserve huge credit for the attitude they have displayed in dealing successfully with such an injury.

While these players are to be admired, what about player's attitudes to less serious injury -does it change from player to player? In my own experience it certainly does as I have played with many who play and train with knocks and strains and others who miss out with the slightest problem.

Perhaps those who fall into the latter category are correct as they are only playing if 100% fit and thus in the optimum physical condition, but, for me, those who are willing to play while in some discomfort are to be lauded.

Throughout a season most players will suffer some forms of injury, and by this stage many will be playing with these niggles. Any visit to a dressing room pre-match would confirm this as players wear strappings, take anti inflammatory tablets and so on.

These players are prepared to play on because their attitude is strong enough, an attitude which has seen them get to the top flight and be successful.

For those young players about to learn their fate, perhaps the following quote from retired American Football coach Lou Holtz is appropriate.

"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."


  • Comment number 1.

    Top blog, great read! Mental strength is everything in top level sport and it seems to be sadly lacking in a lot of talented players who could otherwise take the step towards being real stars.

  • Comment number 2.

    Get writing Jack. Just with the injury of players, even though you are right about players attitude but I think a lot has to do with the club doctors/physio. A great example would be players like Rooney/Lampard. You know such players would like to play even of they are not 100% however give their importance to the club, they might not.

  • Comment number 3.

    Michael Owens is the perfect example of what not to do with injuries. Each case is different and you really need to evaluate whether an injury is one you can play through and one you're not. For young, developing bodies, this is even more important.

  • Comment number 4.

    American Football coach Lou Holtz is appropriate.

    "Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."

    This is a top drawer quote. I have seen it a lot young stars thinking they made it breaking into the first team and acting like jerks when they get home..... they usually dissappear into nothing....

  • Comment number 5.

    Great blog. Had I had a smidgin of talent I would have run through several brick walls to play for my home team Blackpool and run through fire doused in petrol to play for my country.

    Not too late yet I'm only 47....

  • Comment number 6.

    a player should never play with an injury .
    one of the replies mentioned rooney , fantastic attitude and a player i would definately pay to watch play the game . he played on after aggravating his ankle for over half an hour and didn't want to come off , that decision should have been made by the manager right away .
    to play football at any level and to carry and injury only adds work load to the rest of the team ,especially at the highest level not to mention the guys on the bench who are fit having to stomache the managers decision to keep a player on the field who is clearly injured . i wonder how long berbatov will stay at united now .
    nothing wrong with the attitude to play on with an injury but the manager always takes a huge risk playing a player who is cleary not fit .

    another point on attitude , i watched an intersting situation yesterday , a golfer called a penalty on himself and handed a golf tournament to his competitor in the play off in america , sportsmanship at it's best, applauded on every continent , when do you think football will catch on , is there any sportsmanship left in the spl at all .

  • Comment number 7.

    Ironic that the week you post the attitude blog is the week where St. Mirren cosign themselves to a really tight relegation battle! Last week we went down, rather poorly to a poor Falkirk team - and to be honest we never looked like we wanted to win there.

    Then we travel up to Perth in one of the hardest games in the split.. and go 2-0 up with only ten minutes remaining. What does it say about the players attitude that in a stage where points are vital, against a team who have nothing to play for, that we can't hold onto a two goal lead? I hope that I am wrong about the team's attitude and we prove that against Killie - probably the worst team in the split - at home.

    Anyway, the blog was a great read! Not sure how to post this, but a group of four of us have decided that beginning next season we'll try our feet in the amateur game - we've never really played for anyone before. I'm not sure how I'll cope technically with the players already playing the game - although I don't imagine they are that good. Where I hope to win many head-to-head battles with teammates in terms of playing, and opposition when it counts is physically and mentally! Here's hoping I can take something from the blog and maybe make it as a rather low-profile footballer!



  • Comment number 8.

    Thanks as always for all the comments.

    Comment 2- Although there will definetely be a desire at all clubs to protect their greatest assets, I would say that the decision to play will always come down to the manager and player. There will be advice offered by the medical staff but they will very rarely be the main decision maker.

    Comment 3- This a good point, as there are many examples of players playing through injury for the sake of a few games but doing long term damage, and sometimes putting their future career at risk. However, the very short term nature of football means this is difficult for a player to evaluate at times.

    Comment 6- Something which is worth considering, and a decision which a manager will sometimes face is do you play one of your star players while 80 per cent fit or leave him out for a player of lesser ability, and who you have less trust in, who is 100 per cent? A lot of the time I think managers would go for the former!

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Jack

    Great Blog as usual.

    Obviously the latter part of your blog can be referred to yourself. You played with an injury and it has not worked out for you. Not knowing the full details of the injury, if you had rested iniatially and gone through a rehab programme, could you have been able to play in the post split games?

    In hindsight, would you do the same again?

  • Comment number 10.

    Jolewis, thank you for your reply. There was a certain element of risk by returning so quickly, but there was as much chance of me being able to keep playing as there was of suffering more damage and missing the final games.

    If I had taken a longer period of recovery I most probably would have been ok for the post split games, equally I would have missed a number of pre split games. At that time it was impossible to know what games would be more vital. Therefore in hindsight, I would do the same again, as I would always want to play if it was physically possible to do so, even though the decision has made it so disapointing to miss the final matches.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hi Jack

    Thank you for your honest answer. Good luck for you recovery and all the best to the buddies for the season.

    Look forward to your forthcoming blogs

  • Comment number 12.

    Great post. To be a truly great one, you need to have still plus the right amount of attitute and passion. We have all seen players who have performed magical in flashes for a couple of years (eg Ronaldinho), but he could't take it further.

    Attitude is one reason why I think Ronaldo will never be considered as good as Messi, because at least a significant number of people think he is a crybaby footballer. He is the perfect 21st century player, but not as good as the imperfect Messi - just because of his loser attutude.


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