Improve NOW Using The Kaizen Method


"We need to alter our approach and commit to small, continuous actions to build a solid foundation to achieve our bigger, long-term ambitions."

Most of us look at improvement and prefer the biggest transformation in the shortest amount of time. Unfortunately, lasting change does not function that way so we need to alter our approach and commit to small, continuous actions to build a solid foundation to achieve our bigger, long-term ambitions. These small steps (taken daily) compound over time to create a lasting habit, skill and/or change.  

From self-improvement gurus to Fortune 500 companies, the process of Kaizen has been adapted and implemented by millions. This Japanese principle roughly translates to "good change" and is a powerful device for improving performance. 

For us Footy lovers, we can apply this mindset to our everyday lives to make us better players, coaches and fans. To make Kaizen work effectively, you'll need to choose specific areas you wish to develop. The Kaizen method cultivates long-term growth through short-term, incremental developments and is most powerful when taken on by individuals to make the group better. Here are some actionable tips on how to integrate this principle into your life as a Footy player, coach, and/or fan. 

Players: The wonderful aspect of the Kaizen method is that constant improvement can be applied to all aspects of our game. Similar to the Childlike Mind, we can address each facet of our game with vigorous enthusiasm to improve it a little bit at a time. 

Footy Tip: You may choose to work on your tactical awareness in your position. For this illustration, we will use an outside back. Focus on one tactical situation of the position and concentrate your efforts on enhancing your knowledge, awareness and muscle memory each day. One specific example is when the ball is on the opposite side of the field. Can you create a habit of pinching inside with your Center Back while keeping your hips/shoulders open to the field so you can see the opposing striker on your right/left, the midfielders in front of you AND the attacking player behind you on the opposite side? This simple habit, performed over and over will produce a mental/physical pattern in your brain that will grow stronger over time. 

Coaches: Embracing the Kaizen principle means you are asking individuals AND the group to buy-in to short-term improvements with the eye on long-term goals. Getting your squad to acknowledge that a Championship is an important goal is not a difficult task. Getting them to understand the short-term growth process as a worthwhile objective is another issue altogether. 

Footy Tip: Set a specific purpose for each training session and/or drill. Explain to your players WHY and HOW you want the drill done. This may be a simple passing exercise but you must require detailed precision. For instance, a modest box passing drill (players are following their passes): Tell your players that you want everything game-like and at passes/movements performed at game speed. Basic points should be checking their shoulder AND checking off the cone before they receive the ball. If you have access to them, larger barriers such as mannequins, flags etc. work better than cones because they force players to make movements more honest than cones. Encourage your players to overhit passes and test the touch of the receiver. Now you have packed in 4-5 coaching points into a somewhat simple drill that will all translate into game situations. 

Fans: Fans play an enormous, influential role in any organization and great fans are determined to advance their knowledge of the game. You may be one of the most well-informed fans that you know but there is ALWAYS something else to learn. 

Footy Tip: Scour the internet for blog posts, professional articles or analysis that will increase your understanding of the game. Read rival team's reports to identify who their influential players are, where their weaknesses exist and how your team matches up best with them. In essence, you're developing into a coach in the stands and you will understand the game in a whole new way by slowly lifting the veil of naivety that most of us have but can't see. 

By concentrating your efforts each day on one/two unique aspects of your growth, you will begin to realize the compounding effects of your hard work. Rather than seeking to turn into the best player/coach/fan in the world overnight, commit to modest, incremental improvements day-to-day and your development will soar. 


Go influence the game