“they must first build a familiarity and trust between player and coach that transcends football”

Mark Upton
Oct 17, 2015

“The director discussed at length the coaching practices he felt to the be the most relevant in the success of the current FC Barcelona and Catalan national coaching models. He went on to explain that before a Catalan coach can make a real impact on the player’s technical ability, they must first build a familiarity and trust between player and coach that transcends football. Scaffolding this relationship through positive reinforcement, emotional warmth, honest communication, trust and enlightenment proved to play an instrumental part in the depth of talent that was being developed in the region. It seemed that connecting with the person, improved the coaches chances of developing the player.”


I came across the above during one of my “random walks” across the world wide web. It triggered a couple of reflections. One being around the link with our pillars of “Engage” and “Connect”. Combined with “Aspire”, we see these as key interactions shaping the developmental journey of a young person.


The other reflection concerned a session I facilitated with an English Football Academy where this idea (connecting with the young person) was discussed and a percentage of the group were not sold on the importance. This says a lot about the state of affairs that have emerged from the business-driven dynamics of the academy system. However the scope for positive impact is significant IF accompanied by an appetite for exploring different approaches….

Now, it is far from our style to suggest “copying and pasting” methods from one region/culture to another. However in this case, perhaps connecting and relating transcend contextual nuances – instead representing a fundamental requirement in creating the conditions for human flourishing (Deci & Ryan, 2000). We certainly believe this to be the case, which is why it is included in our framework for helping players, coaches and organisations be their best.


Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). “The ‘what’ and ‘why’ of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior.” Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.

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