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Martin Hollands

Football Coach

Youth Coaching

- Feb. 13, 2024

The Art of Support: Revolutionising Football Through the Sidekick Way

In the world of football, as in many aspects of life, we've seen the hero paradigm dominate the narrative. This focus on individual brilliance, while inspiring, often overshadows the fundamental essence of team sports: unity, collaboration, and mutual support. The adage 'All the gear, but no idea' resonates deeply in this context, revealing a gap in our coaching and development philosophies. The frequent celebration of the 'hero' neglects the beauty and intricacy of teamwork, where each player's contributions, no matter how small or supportive, are vital to the collective success. It's time we shift our focus and celebrate the act of helping others, developing the 'Sidekick' rather than the 'Hero.' Drawing inspiration from varied sources like Ubuntu in sport, Servant Leadership by Robert K. Greenleaf, and Team Role Theories by Meredith Belbin has been enlightening. However, "The Book of Five Rings" by Miyamoto Musashi has offered a particularly profound framework for this shift. Musashi's work, while rooted in the art of kenjutsu, transcends its origins to offer timeless lessons in strategy, tactics, and the philosophy of support and adaptability lessons that are incredibly relevant to the modern football coach and player. One quote from Musashi's text strikingly mirrors the shift we aim to champion in football coaching: 'In this kind of Way of Strategy, both those teaching and those learning the way are concerned with colouring and showing off their technique, trying to hasten the bloom of the flower. They speak of "This Dojo" and "That Dojo." They are looking for profit. Someone once said, "Immature strategy is the cause of grief." That was a true saying.' This critique of the rush towards superficial mastery and recognition, over the natural, patient development of deep understanding and skill, resonates with the need to foster a coaching culture that values the collective effort and the unseen support—the 'Sidekick Way.' By reinterpreting these principles within the context of football, we can foster a culture that values and cultivates the 'Sidekick Way.' This approach doesn't just prepare players to win games; it prepares them to be better teammates and, ultimately, more rounded individuals. The 'hero' may make the highlight reel, but it's the collective effort, the unseen support, and the shared victories that forge a truly great team. The shift from lauding the individual to celebrating the team won't happen overnight, but with a concerted effort and a change in perspective, we can start to value the 90%+ of the game that's often overlooked. Let's champion the 'Sidekick Way' and, in doing so, elevate the essence of what it means to play, and win together. Now, being the sidekick doesn't mean teaching passing patterns, repeated movement patterns, etc. Taking 'The Book of Five Rings' as an example, - Ground: Movement - Water: Adaptability - Fire: Direct - Wind: Your Opponent - Void: Embracing the unknown. These five embrace a better sidekick and should be baked into training sessions. By focusing on the sidekick, heroes will naturally emerge, doing things that we did not know were possible. That's what made that FC Barcelona team successful. It wasn't the passing patterns or robotic play, it was the DNA of a sidekick, and what emerged from that? Messi?

Feb. 13, 2024
Martin Hollands Profile Photo
Martin Hollands

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