By Alicia Pryzsienak

Former Premier League manager Alan Pardew was a recent visitor to UCFB Wembley to speak to with students as part of UCFB’s Executive Guest Speaker Series.

Pardew’s career in management has included promotion, relegation and European qualification, along with FA Cup final defeats to Liverpool and Manchester United, respectively. Additionally, in 2012, he was named LMA Manager of the Year when he led Newcastle United to sixth place in the Premier League, securing Europa League qualification.

It’s these experiences that ensure LMA guest speakers can give UCFB students the best advice possible ahead of a career in the football and sports industry. In an exclusive interview with UCFB, Pardew stated: “To be a good coach, you have to understand how to get the best out of the group you’ve got.” This piece of advice really stuck with me. 

As a player it is important to have the right mind set and attitude, but as a coach it’s vital. To inspire others, you must create a positive environment, allowing you to develop confident players and setting the perfect tone for a successful team, supporting Pardew’s advice perfectly. 

Football techniques and tactics are not the only things you can learn from a coach; coaches have a great opportunity to guide you through life and teach life lessons you will never forget. The lives of players are often shaped by their coaches, and the traits they learn can serve them well in life beyond the football pitch.

Tony Robbins, an American author and philanthropist, emphasises just how important psychology is in achieving success. Robbins states that ‘success is 80% psychology and only 20% due to tactics and strategy’. Commenting on this theory, Pardew explained: “I see too many coaches putting on sessions which don’t do this and are making the players doing too much tactical work.” He added: “A good balance in personality is key.” 

Former West Ham boss Pardew spoke to students at UCFB Wembley

Taking on board Pardew’s outlook, combined with the analysis of other experienced coaches, I have derived five traits which every successful coach should possess in order to develop strong, confident and effective players. When a coach embodies these traits it’s likely that they will have an influence on the way their players think. How coaches respond to adversity and their willingness to embrace challenges truly sets the culture at their club. 

1)    Believe in your players

Every coach can say a player is talented, but believing in them and knowing they will be successful is key. If a coach has a growth mind-set, then they can empower a sense of belief among every player in their team. 

2)    Be persistent

With persistence comes discipline. Instilling players with a strong work ethic will ensure that they go into a game and every-day life possessing a ‘never give up’ mentality. Losses are opportunities to recognise what is wrong, which provide the coach and their players with areas to improve and come back stronger.

3)    Always implement the 80:20 rule in football

This rule is crucial in football. If you notice that one thing is working, then why don’t you spend more time on that one thing? Though it sounds simple, often coaches don’t recognise that the activities they choose to do have an impact on the results they yield. By recognising what is and isn’t working, 20% of activities can be amplified to help your team advance at a rapid pace. 

4)    Teamwork is key

Every coach should create an atmosphere where everyone is equal and place an emphasis of achieving goals together, not individually. No matter how important a single individual on the team may be, this should never detract from the team’s overall mission.

5)    You won’t get anywhere without positivity

As a coach, you must create a positive team atmosphere. Positivity is contagious and if players feel content about themselves and the team, then the environment will be full of optimism and enthusiasm. Follow the ‘five good things for every one criticism rule’ and you are sure to have a happy team. It’s not only the football side of things that matter, positivity must be prevalent in every aspect of your team’s life. Recently, Pardew has bemoaned the development of WhatsApp groups in football teams, suggesting they are breeding grounds for toxicity in clubs.