Ifantidis Achilles | Psychology
The transition of an athlete from the academies to the first team is a dynamic journey full of challenges with the aim of achieving ideal efficiency and the best possible adaptation to the new, very demanding and stressful environment.
In the course of this process, it is not simply - as we usually assume - that the athletic performance and its fruitful adaptation to the new data are tested. The levels of competence of the child-athlete in terms of social interaction, psychological management, organizational arrangement, environmental understanding and effective orientation in the new conditions are tested.
The child-athlete is not simply required to be able to cope technically and regularly in the first team, nor of course is he required to maintain a high level of physical condition in order to be able to follow the increasing rhythms of training and competition obligations.
At a high level the child athlete is called upon to dramatically update and improve a range of perceptions and beliefs, which catalyze the way of thinking, the analysis and the experience of emotions and consequently the way, the time and the productivity of action both within as well as off-field.
The transition of the child-athlete to the first team creates demands for a more mature personality, with the possibility of critical thinking for the recognition of the new way of playing, the positive and negative points of oneself within this framework, the rapid identification and correction of mistakes, the effect that this pressure has on the decision-making process, the building of a fighter mentality, which can manage both victory and defeat, both the predictable and the unpredictable, both right and wrong.
An athlete child who should build a personality based on discipline, cooperation, responsibility, method, endurance, perseverance, patience, dedication, focus, humility, and most importantly, adaptability.
That is, its ability to be receptive to new experiences, to decode the data, the rules and the relationships of people in each new environment but also to use in its favor every condition, every new stimulus and every new data, without impulses, without inflating it, but also without easy frustrations that lead to setbacks, disincentives and resignation.
Each transition process, which depending on the child - athlete can last up to 5 years, is divided into 4 phases. Preparation, orientation, adaptation and stabilization. Throughout this process, the child-athlete is in dire need of a supportive coaching and parenting environment, which will leave the channels of communication wide open, will not be limited to sterile criticism but instead will inform, analyze, direct, guide, it will calm down, inspire, instruct whenever needed and restrain whenever necessary.
The child-athlete at each step in the first team must know:
• What are the new requirements that coaches have from it, what roles does it have, what is the appropriate way to work for the good of the team
• What is the context, the history, the philosophy, the dynamics, the brand name of the team in which it has joined
• What is the appropriate way to train him to improve individual handicaps, both technically and physically, mentally and emotionally?
• What does it mean for him and his team, his indifference, lack of attention, complacency in his talent, arrogance and arrogance for his selection in the first team
• How important is the role of good communication for the optimization of interpersonal relationships within the group context but also for the fastest and most effective confrontation of any environmental obstacles that are raised, any individual fears, dilemmas, deadlocks
• What is the right way to claim, to challenge, to compete, to seek acceptance, recognition and even respect for one's efforts and dreams?
• What is the right way to resist the sirens of publicity, the traps of social media
In any case, it is good for all of us to remember something essential. That no effective transition from the academy to the first team will take place smoothly without ensuring conditions of healthy competition of the child - athlete. The child-athlete in order to take advantage of opportunities, must take opportunities. He has to fight, to feel an active and integral member of the team, to feel that he has a remarkable role in it.
Statistics from the United Kingdom, moreover, show that only 1 in 200 children who sign up to the Academies eventually find their way to professional football and less than 1% of those who do.