TIME TO FOCUS
Nerves, doubt, the thought of a post-match pint – all sorts of things run through the mind before kick-off, so nestling together before the whistle will retune focus. “The pre-match huddle centres players’ minds on the important first few minutes of the game,” explains performance coach Richard Nugent.
ALL FOR ONE, ONE FOR ALL
Sure, you’ll get on each other’s backs when it all starts going wrong, but join together before kick-off and send out a clear message. “At Arsenal we gather in the centre circle and gee each other up for the match,” says the Gunners’ Spanish midfield maestro, Santi Cazorla. “It shows we’re a united group, on the same path, with the same goal.”
More after the break
KEEP IT SHORT AND TO THE POINT
Al Pacino’s epic locker room speech from Any Given Sunday works on the silver screen, not on Hackney Marshes. “Huddles should be short and snappy. Say too much and the key messages will get lost, so keep it punchy and potent,” advises Nugent.
Don’t leave your subs on the sidelines like the last picks in the playground. “At the World Cup, Vincent Kompany got everyone together for a pre-match huddle, even the subs,” reveals Belgium and Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen. “It made everyone feel like they were part of the team.”
SAY THE RIGHT THING
Thumping your chest and shouting “Let’s ’ave it!” won’t cut it. “Pre-match huddles work if they’re done well,” explains Vertonghen. “Kompany doesn’t just talk; he motivates you by saying different things – tactical instructions and intelligent messages.”
Richard Nugent is the MD of Success in Football and author of Secrets of Confident People