Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, historian and philosopher Will Durant delivered this widely accepted interpretation of Aristotle:
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
As coaches, we are in the habit-building business. We accept that practice does not make perfect, but that perfect practice makes perfect. Excellent effort and excellent practice produce excellent performance. To that end, we commit our time to develop technical skills, tactical insight, physical prowess, and psychological strength through repetition. We construct the environment to maximize successful repetitions. We hope that this repetition results in high quality of play on match day. Yet we do not rely on hope; we invest in preparation and believe that quality performance is earned. We know that it is impossible to achieve excellence on match day without the pursuit of excellence in training as well as persistently on match day. Excellent soccer is intentional. Excellent soccer is the residue of right repetition.
Sheer folly it is to suggest excellent soccer may be achieved by a sole focus on technique, or tactics, or physical abilities, or psychological fitness. If we believe that excellent soccer in an individual or a team is the result of the holistic approach to the coaching and learning of the beautiful game, then it follows that developing the highest standards of ethics and sportsmanship is a critical aspect of achieving excellent soccer. Psychological strength is imperative, its foundation revealed through good character and integrity. Therefore, we must train this dimension intentionally. We must develop the whole player and the whole team. Excellence does not exist in a vacuum. To attain excellence in any endeavor at any time requires the habit of persistent pursuit of excellence in all endeavors.
If we believe there is no shortcut to achieving excellent play, then we must accept no shortcuts in achieving psychological strength. The most important ingredient in the recipe of excellent teams is trust. This sacred bond is not built through talent, technique, tactics, or physical ability. Trust is built through character and integrity. Trust results when each player willfully puts forth his best mental, emotional, and physical effort each day while knowing his teammates are doing so as well. Abiding by the spirit and letter of the laws and rules of the game, while enthusiastically embracing the concept of fundamental fair play, amidst the staunchest challenges in the heat of competition provides a terrific test of character. When the individual players and the team learn to pass this test with flying colors, trust builds and the quality of play multiplies. A team tethered together upon a foundation of values, character, integrity, and trust is as formidable as can be, as excellent as can be.
While excellence is a full-time job, off-the-job time needs to provide ample opportunity for all athletes at all ages and levels to relax, refresh, and recharge to pursue excellence with optimum mental, emotional, and physical effort.
We do not have far to go to see the price we pay as a society for unethical conduct. We must accept the responsibility to teach the value of a life of virtue to reduce such costs. The soccer fields are not exempt from this obligation and duty to society and the individual. United Soccer Coaches are invited to pursue excellence on the field by the teaching and coaching of ethical, sportsmanlike habits on and off the field. The world needs excellent spouses, parents, friends, employees, employers, and citizens.
First and foremost, we coach people. We are obligated to coach the whole person, striving to assist our charges on their quest to be people of character and integrity. Inculcating the habit of exhibiting the highest standards of ethics and sportsmanship into our players and teams achieves that objective, while also maximizing their capacity to compete, to produce excellence on the field and throughout life.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
United Soccer Coaches President
Member Since 1981