Football Psychology: Artur Boruc – Pictures!

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Football PsychologistIt’s the first half of the Premier League encounter between Arsenal and Southampton. The Saints are keeping their hosts at bay, when keeper Artur Boruc receives a innocuous back-pass.

Under instruction from his manager to control possesison and play the ball out, Borus tries to bring the ball under control, looking for a pass to a team-mate. But he can’t find an easy ball to play, so dithers.

Under pressure from Olivier Giroud, the keeper tries to dribble to ball away from the striker, but he panics and loses possesion to concede the ultimate in soft goals.

It’s a mistake that belongs to the modern era. Keepers now form a key part of the modern managers need to control possession. Hoofing the ball downfield is not a priority, which means top keepers now need both control and passing skills. And the ability to have clear ictures in their heads of the next pass.

Boruc’s mistake was that he lost his picture. In other words he had no Plan B. When he couldn’t play the first pass out that he saw, he didn’t have an option in his head. Reluctant to put his foot through the ball, he then tried to play for time. But it was the wrong option. Doubt and uncertainty lead to panic. All caused by the absence of pictures!

Having a clear picture of the next pass in your head, is the sure-fire way to stay calm on the ball. The picture informs you of what you are going to do next. If you don’t have a picture, then you have to hold a Plan B option. In other words, if I can’t do what I want to do, what is the next safest option?

For Boruc this would have been to launch the ball downfield, or simply put the ball out of play. But no. He got his roles and responsibilities muddled. He perhaps imagined that he had the skill and technique to dribble out of the situation. Saw himself as a ball-playing keeper, that could take on a Premier League striker. Backed his ability to get out of trouble. Which is fine if you have planned and prepared for it. But the Southampton custodian clearly hadn’t!

He hadn’t thought through match scenarios, to create a Personal Game Management Plan. A plan that gives insurance in dealing with ‘what-if’ scenarios. It’s a mistake he won’t forget in a hurry. And it’s a valuable lesson for any player to learn from.