PLAYER ID – “You vs Yourself” Mentality

A post specifically for players aged 15+

Player ID is a model of self audit for footballers. I developed this model back in 2015 when working at Liverpool FC as u21 manager

Often in sport, we speak to young people around taking ”ownership” of their personal development.

The player ID model gives clarity to the word ownership and allows players to self audit and manage their development via 5 simple stages

1. Self Awareness “Identity”

2 Self Management “Daily Rituals”

3 Awareness of others “Within the collective”

4 Relationship Management “Perception”

5 Ownership “Take control”

Constant “Learning, developing, improving” are words that all successful people use when describing their climb to success. They will also use the words “hard work” and “dedication“.

Although – we hear these words on a regular basis,

What does this actually look like in practice?  –  and how can you adopt it this for your own career as a player?

You vs Yourself

Taking on a mentality of “YOU vs YOURSELF” as a model for your self improvement is a very effective way to work.

The first step is – Self Awareness – of your current level and also, the player that you would like to become in the future.

  • What is your football identity?
  • How do you positively impact the game?
  • What are you strong points?
  • What are your action areas?
  • What are you “obsessed” with improving?

The above are some of the questions that you must ask yourself.

Providing yourself with honest feedback and answers will enable you to understand your “Identity” and the areas that you would like to improve.

Identity = Football Personality and is unique for each player.

A trusted coach, can help the process of self-awareness by acting as guide for the player and asking open questions. The coach can also assist with advice on the level that needs to be achieved.

Now – you understand your “football personality”

You can begin the process of “self management” of your daily training, diet, lifestyle and mindset in order to enhance your current levels.


(1) Self awareness– What is your football identity/personality?

(2) Self management– What are your “daily rituals” to maintain and enhance your identity as a player?

  • How can you maintain and improve your key strengths? (very important)
  • What areas would you like to improve?
  • What help – or whose help – do you require?
  • How are you going to monitor improvement?
  • What is the level of your competition? (inside and outside the club)

The last question to ask yourself is – Which one is most important now? as this is the area that you need to be “obsessed” with.

Little and often

If you take advice on learning a language, then you will often be given feedback to study “little and often“.

The process of learning a language requires patience and exactly this advice – of studying for a small amount of time each day.

Seeing the improvement made each day, will give you confidence and motivation to continue with learning the language.

So adding structure to your learning is very important.

Also – you will never lose anything for a lesson/session completed. It is all invested into your learning and “money in the bank” towards improving yourself.

In addition, by working to a daily structure, you will begin to form powerful and positive habits in your behaviour that are hard to lose.

So– how can we use this as a scenario in football?

Well– often we will say to a young player “work on your weaker foot” to become more balanced or two footed.

But– that is a very broad statement to give a young player. Also – where is the end point? what does it look like?

Therefore– we can break it down and encourage a player to work on (1) receiving with their weak foot (2) the ability dribble the ball (3) the ability to turn and (4) the ability to pass the ball accurately over short distances.

“Break your learning into small “bit sized chunks” and allow yourself time to process information. Using a simple format will enhance your focus and ability to improve”

Now– the player can progress and see improvement. The improvement will lead to confidence and greater motivation.

“Keep exercises simple”

“Work to a simple process – with high focus” 

A session within a session

On average, a player will train for 3 or 4 days towards each game.

In each training session, there is a team focus for you to work on and develop.

However, you must also have a strong focus on your personal development in each session.

Within the session, certain practices will natural develop areas of your game that you would like to improve. These things will come naturally in the games and practices that your coaches devise.

For example- a 7v7 training game is used by the coach to work on possession of the ball. You are taking onboard this team focus and working to improve this aspect of your game.

But– you are a defender and you are also working on your 1v1 defending as a “personal” development area. Therefore, you focus strongly on this aspect of your development within the same 7v7 game.

In short – you are training smart.

If you can take on this mentality to each exercise – within the full session/practice – then you will be training with high focus and concentration.

When stopping for a drink – between exercises – you can refocus your thoughts and prepare yourself for the next practice.

“You can create the perfect training week/session for yourself by combining the team practices with your individual development areas”

“You can give yourself the right mix of individual practices (unopposed or opposed) and team practices in order to maximise your development”

“But – first you must understand what you want/need to develop and then you can structure your personal training to these areas”

“This also works in all aspects of your development – including gym work, recovery strategies, nutrition, sleep etc……”

In the right way – you must see training as a development of YOU and try to take each day as a personal step to improve.

Then in games – you play for the TEAM.

Improving yourself each day – will improve your level and have a positive effect on the team.

Never look sideways

The moment that a player looks sideways and stops the journey of “YOU vs YOURSELF” you can fall into a dangerous trap of comparing and becoming disgruntled about somebody else’s progress.

You cannot control this – you can only control your personal focus and development.

“Never look sideways to compare, only for inspiration”

Stage 3 – Awareness of others

Self Awareness and Self Management of your football identity are personal to you.

However, football is a TEAM sport and therefore, you need to use your identity to enhance the collective team.

So – stage 3 is to be aware of others and how you interact (communicate & combine) with your team mates in order to make your talent “shine within the team” and help your team to be successful.

Things that you need to consider at this stage are

  • How do i combine with my team mates to make the team perform?
  • What are my key strengths that help the team to win?
  • What is my role in the team defensively?
  • Which players do i “serve” in the team? (are you a wide player who serves a centre forward?)
  • Which players serve me? (A wide player who requires service from a full back or centre midfield)
  • How do i work inside the team with my team mates both in and out of possession?

In team sports, the team is the vehicle to both individual and collective success.


Stage 4 – Relationship Management

This stage is how you perceive other people and how people perceive you

  • Would your team mates select you in their team?
  • Why or why not?
  • Are you a good team mate?
  • How do you interact on and off the pitch within the team?
  • How do you interact with the coaches?

For young professional players, social media, the way to conduct yourself in person, clothes you wear and car you drive are all becoming important factors in how you are perceived as a footballer and person.

During the recruitment process, professional clubs spend a huge amount of time and focus on the above aspects to ensure they are recruiting both the right player, but also the right personality into their club environment. Therefore, young players have to be aware that recruitment staff, managers, coaches, directors and owners are now actively doing a 360 review of a player in order to determine whether they are the right fit for their club.

Stage 5 – Taking ownership/Responsibility

The final stage is to take Responsibility for managing those four stages on a daily basis in order to maximise development – ultimately it comes back to YOU vs YOURSELF every day.

The ability to take responsibility, self motivate, audit, chase feedback and have daily rituals comes back to the individual person/player.

Having a quick and simple model/method for this process is therefore, hugely beneficial to taking OWNERSHIP of both short and long term development.

1 Comment

  1. Just the normal class from Michael.
    You can keep going back to Michael’s blogs and you always learn more.


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