Finding Your Why

Simon Sinek has a really good book called Start With Why – How great leaders inspire everyone to take action. It’s a phenomenal read, full of great anecdotes to illustrate his points. If you don’t fancy reading the book but have 18 minutes to spare, this is the TedTalk for it.


In the summary of the book, one paragraph reads:


‘Any person or organization can explain what they do; some can explain how they are different or better; but very few can clearly articulate whyWHY is not about money or profit – those are results. WHY is the thing that inspires us and inspires those around us.’



I wanted to share a little bit of my Why today and how to find and define yours…if you haven’t already.


Firstly, I was a good youth player. In training, in the playground, in the park I’d be brilliant (if I’m allowed to say so myself!). But in games I wasn’t. It took me until about 14 years old to start to figure out why.


In those less structured environments I’d put myself exactly where I wanted to be – in central midfield, running all day long, dribbling, passing, tackling and constantly being in the middle of the action. In matches from 8-14 years old, I was played every single position on the pitch, including Goalkeeper…except for central midfield!


I eventually realised exactly why this was. And it was because I was smaller – both in height and width! – than other players and the view was you needed to be big and robust to play in central midfield. A typical late August birthday – a victim of Relative Age Effect and a late developer!


All through childhood I never had a good coach who recognised the qualities in me and was brave enough to put me in central midfield. I dragged myself from being deemed not worthy of playing central midfield at 13-14 to captain of an England Schoolboys team at U19 – as a central midfielder.


Then I went playing semi-professionally in England. I was 18 years old and 9 stone (126lbs for the Americans in the room…57kg for the Europeans!) going from playing against boys to playing against men. It wasn’t an easy transition going from the sheltered life of schoolboy football to men’s First Team and coaches were quick to cast you aside. It didn’t help that I’d show to receive from the backline and then watch the ball sail over my head and then have to chase up-field to go and win second balls!


After breaking my jaw and knee-cap in the same season, at 20, my playing career was pretty much done as I decided I wanted to be a coach where I could:

1. Dictate the style of play that I’d grown up on – Hard Work. Brave and assertive on the Ball. Possession based.

2. Give players the positive coach, mentor and coaching that I’d never had


That is my WHY as a coach.




My WHY as a Coaching Mentor & Educator is because of the following:



In January I was watching a couple of coaches take a session. It was an U10 boys team with about 12 kids split into 2 lines. The boys would do a quick-feet slalom through the 5 cones, 2 foot hop over the next 2 and then receive the ball thrown from the coach, to control and pass back into his hands.


Aside from the aerial control and volleyed pass being a little outside of their ability level, the activity levels were painfully low. So I decided to time it. The cycle, ie when each boy would enter the slalom, get his 2 touches, wait in line and then re-enter the slalom, took about 3 minutes.


I cringed a little at that and really wanted to go over and show the coach how playing 9 Lives combined with Foundation Moves, Hospital Tag, Marbles, Body Brakes, 1v1 games etc would absolutely blow this out of the water, but I didn’t feel it was really my place, and even then, it still wasn’t enough to motivate me to set up my Coach Mentoring Programme. What happened next was though.


One boy, who was a big boy and clearly bored – and rightly so! – slalomed through the cones, arrived at the coach and thought ‘I’m going to spice this up a bit’ and duly proceeded to volley the ball as far away as he could, not even bothering with his second touch.

I was amused by this.


The coach though, was not. Clearly annoyed, he told him to go and stand with his mum.


So this kid, who wanted to be playing football rather than dancing through cones, was being deprived of it because the coach didn’t have the resources or the guidance to tap into what made this kid (and all the other kids!) really tick.


This was the interaction that motivated me to start putting myself out to coaches as a Mentor.


I started working with this club’s coaches to show them better practice; practice that makes use of kids’ natural enthusiasm and love of play to increase enjoyment and participation, makes efficient use of your time with them and most importantly, develops players’ love of football.


In the 75 minute sessions I did with them, I’d educate about 10 coaches, which would impact around 120 players. This online system is about educating even more coaches and scaling that 120 players to potentially thousands.


Hopefully people believe in my WHY and the Mentorship Programme, which you can read more about here will continue to grow.



Now to help YOU find your WHY


It’s actually really simple.


Take whatever team or kids you are coaching now and just project yourself 1, 2, 5 or 10 years down the line, whenever you might have taken them as far as you can go.

depositphotos_195841696-stock-photo-cute-little-child-dreaming-becoming image

Imagine what you want those kids to say about the impact you’ve had on them. What skills have they developed that you planted the seed for and helped mature? What life path did you help steer them towards?



Is it a love of hard work? A love of football? Was it simply to give all players a place to play sport? Was it lifelong friends they made as a result of playing on your team? To leave no player behind and develop everyone to the potential of their physical abilities? To provide an opportunity for everyone regardless of ability?



If this is still a struggle for you then you can try this…


Ask your players. Ask the parents.


Ask them either:


What do you like most about being coached by me?


What do you want most from a coach?


Or both!


As you read the replies, there’ll be some that:

Make you smile;

Make you feel proud;

And ones that make you feel goosebumps


These are the ones that will be your WHY.


This is a great exercise even if you feel like you know your Why already!

Give it a go and see what feedback you get.



I know this was a long one but thanks for reading and as always feel free to pass this email along to coaches you know will be interested!



Enjoy your day,