Thursday 19 September 2019

Dr. Dave unlocks key to performing under big pressure

'The Pressure Principle', by world-renowned coach Dr. Dave Alred
'The Pressure Principle', by world-renowned coach Dr. Dave Alred

Book review - Jason Goodison

Pressure. It's for tyres, right? 

The date is May 25, 2005. The venue: Istanbul, Turkey. The Ataturk Stadium.

It's a well-known story. AC Milan, coasting 3-0 at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final, have crumbled. Underdogs Liverpool, emerging from the half-time team-talk with renewed belief, have fought back and forced the game to penalties.

The penalty shoot-out, sport's biggest pressure cooker, with the added pressure of the biggest prize in club football on the line.

With eight penalties taken, Liverpool leading 3-2, the weight of the world falls on the shoulders of two men. One is Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, who has been ridiculed all season as a calamity. The other is Milan's Andriy Shevchenko, the world's most lethal striker.

One appears to thrive on the pressure, as he throws himself around the goal, waving his arms and shaking his legs, born for this one moment. The other looks nervous, and as he walks up he is not in the vital 'command' posture, avoiding eye contact as he agitatedly glances around - searching for someone to rescue him.

The kick flies tamely and unassured down the middle of the goal, a hand reaches out and bats it away. The unthinkable has just happened.

'The Pressure Principle', by world-renowned coach Dr. Dave Alred, is all about these moments. More specifically, it is about becoming a Dudek. Shining under pressure - in your sport, career or even in your social life.

With this in mind, Alred opens up his book to just about everybody. The target audience is anyone who can feel pressure - and with some 7.4 billion people on earth likely to admit to even the occasional bout of pressure in their lives, he has given his creation the best chance of being a best seller.

He often uses stories and anecdotes to get his message across, stories which the reader will find all too relatable. Yet, he does this to be inclusive, to cover all the bases for every possible reader. To stress, this book is written by the figure in sport, but produced for the masses.

Alred, a former coach of Jonny Wilkinson and Pádraig Harrington (to name just a few), says that dealing with pressure can be divided into eight different strands and to each of these he devotes one chapter.

While there is an abundance of useful information in these chapters, you can't help but feel that he gets away from his main aim of informing the reader on how to perform better under pressure.

Instead of detailing the effective use of language or how to best manage your learning, perhaps Alred should have focused more on the promises he makes in his introduction, rather than filling pages with somewhat unrelated information.

For those thinking of making the purchase (for a coach or manager I believe it's a must have), it's not a book you read all at once. It's one of those where you read a small section (three or four pages) and then try to implement Alred's teachings. 

Once you've mastered these few pages, then try moving onto something new. If you're the type who reads a whole book in a day, you will struggle to process all of the relevant information and maybe it's not a book for you. 

It is certainly a book I will read again, as it is extremely relevant to my aspirations of being a football coach/manager.

Maybe too, it is a production that Andriy Shevchenko could have a gander at, or could have really benefited from had it been released eleven years earlier.

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