Betfred Sport

Go for goals: Close control

NLP expert Dan Collinson continues with his regular column aimed at improving focus and avoiding negativity as a way to enhance overall performance.

Practice, practice, practice

From an early age, it was instilled into me that by mastering my close control, I would naturally improve as a footballer.

As I got older, every manager and every coach for every team that I played in extolled the virtues of close control and how important it was that we all practiced and perfected our close control.

Trying to trap the ball and it bobbling off towards an opposition player or dribbling the ball and not having enough control, so that it shoots off five yards away into touch, were certainly not going to be good enough for career progression or for the success of the team, and so it is a skill that is worth perfecting.

But there is another key reason for having excellent close control, that doesn’t involve the physical side of the game and is more on the psychological side.

How often do you see players raising their arms in the air, blaming other players or hear a manager complaining that it was the officials, opposition tactics or the moon’s alignment with the sun that led to the unwanted result?

In this moment, what are they doing? They are finding excuses. Excuses for why things didn’t happen the way they were expected to.

Losing control 

And while they are raising their hands in the air or blaming the officials, they are removing themselves from the game and worst of all, they are losing control. They are losing the control to concentrate on improving their own game and their team’s performance.

There are going to be times that things don’t go your way and what is important is that you react in a positive way. Something I learned the hard (and expensive way, paying for yellow card fines!) is that officials aren’t going to change their minds.

When this finally registered with me, I found that my performance automatically improved and this was because my focus wasn’t on the supposed injustice, which meant that I could focus on what I should have been doing and this was helping my team to get the necessary result by playing to the best of my ability.

If you miss control the ball or receive a bad pass, instead of getting frustrated or momentarily giving up, take control of the situation and channel your energies into regaining the ball and working hard for your team.

If the opposition tactics are more effective, take control and look at your own tactics and see what you can alter, so that you can improve your own team’s effectiveness.

Control - Excuses

Complete the blanks for the following sentence, with a minimum of 3 aspects of your game that you are looking to improve:

The next time I am in the following situation ……… I will take control by ………

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own success, no-one will hand everything to you on a plate and so you are in control. In control of your destiny and what the end results are on the pitch.

All the best,


Dan is happy to hear from readers who are interested in the techniques he applies to help players raise their game. He can be contacted via email at:

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