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Pulse Blogger Football and the art of productivity

It's vital for coaches to build competitiveness into their teams and when all is stripped away, that's what distinguishes the successful coaches from the mediocre ones.

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Arsene Wenger and Gabriel Paulista play Arsene Wenger and Gabriel Paulista (AFP)

It was my hope that Arsene Wenger would win the Champions League this year and retire with some added dignity, but the first leg of the match against Bayern Munich was appalling and showed a lack of character.

The competitive spirit was lacking in the team and they clearly weren't fighting for anything.

It's vital for coaches to build competitiveness into their teams and when all is stripped away, that's what distinguishes the successful coaches from the mediocre ones.

Arsene Wenger play Arsene Wenger (AFP)


The most successful coaches built a habit of competitiveness into their teams but they did it by making competitiveness intrinsic first before making it extrinsic.

Methods of extrinsic motivation included aiming for titles season after season, which we must do too, and making players compete against one another for starting shirts thereby engendering healthy competition in the dressing room.

Of greater consequence however, was making competitiveness intrinsic by encouraging the individual player to compete against himself, to do better than he did before and successful coaches could demand this of the players because they demanded the same of themselves too.

One of Sir Alex's team members at United was the psychologist, Bill Beswick. He joined the team after Ferguson's treble winning season and was hired on the spot when his reply to Sir Alex's "How do I keep my team number 1?" was "Train, play and behave like you're number 2".

Sir Alex Ferguson play Alex Ferguson (Manchester United)


When one of United's treble winning players showed up and started handing out baseball bats with "Treble Winners" written on them, Sir Alex collected all the bats, threw in a bin and said, "That was last season, boys. That's all done now.

This is this season". In a nutshell, that's what the "Winning mentality" really is. It's about consistently winning the battle in the mind to improve because the mind is where all our actions originate. It's about habitually fighting yourself to become a better you.

The roots of a winning, competitive, excellent spirit are deeper and stronger when they come from a place of intrinsic motivation - a place where we're challenged to create, learn and grow; a place of purpose to better our world and the world. It is a mindset and never a destination, and demands effort, grit and deliberate practice.

It is a mindset to apply to anything we do because in doing anything to the best of our abilities, we do everything to the best of our abilities. Just like "Chase every ball" was a winning Leicester City mantra last season, we must passionately do the same.

The way we do anything, even the simplest things, should be the way we do everything. We must daily compete against our best selves, even in the small things, and make being our best a lifestyle.

That's how we'll be Champions.

Isimeme Ikikhueme is a former artist manager and self confessed book thief. He's currently the Chief Ideas Merchant & Creative Director at Radioactiiv Projects (Twitter - @i_Isi)

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