One more letter from the DOC…

Liverpool v Newcastle United: 3-0. That could be the end of Newcastle in the Premier League for the time being. I know at least one person in the EGU office that will find it hard to come to grips with. West Bromwich Albion are in a similar position to Newcastle, losing to Tottenham over the weekend and there is probably only one way they will go as well. That makes at least another two EGU related people mourn over a lost season, where they have to look forward to a not so interesting next one. Relegation is a scary word and in this day and age a very, very costly thing.
 
Having said that though I would think that trying to stay clear of relegation is almost as motivational as trying to win the league or make it to the Champions League. But it works in a different way. It is common knowledge that trying hard not to think about something is not a very good idea. Have you ever tried not to hit the ball in the water hazard on the right, or to not miss the green on the left as there is a big hollow and the pin is on the left side of the green? Where does that usually get you? When studying for my driver’s license I remember a piece of advice about driving in the dark; don’t look at the lights of the car you are meeting (in other words don’t try and NOT crash into the car you are passing) but look far ahead on the side of the road on which you are driving (right in Sweden but make sure it is the left lane in the UK!). Of course that means you will easily steer clear of the meeting car and keep steady on the road.

The psychology of trying to get or to avoid something is quite interesting. I wonder what things would be like if relegation did not exist in the Premier League? Most teams would still try to win the league but the ones at the lower end would certainly not have much to play for. In some ways I know that is how countries set up their National Squads in golf. Quite often you hear things like ‘once players are in there is no way out’. When I worked in Sweden we came up with the phrase “National team coma” to describe a player that had made it into the National Squad but then got a bit lazy and started to take a very laid back approach. It was as if the player was thinking ‘I have made it into the squad. I am a good player’.
 
I’m not sure if that is how Newcastle or West Brom have been thinking this year but I am pretty sure that relegation will get them to refocus and start working very hard towards getting back in the top league. I am also quite sure that the same applies to golfers and that being moved out of a squad for many is not a bad thing. Problems only occur when players, and football teams, start thinking about NOT wanting to be moved out. This is where the coaching comes in. Whoever wrote that book I read for my driver’s license understood that type of coaching!

At the other end of the spectrum you could wonder what would happen if there was not a Champions League in football. If there was not a next step after the Premier League is won. I have a feeling that winning teams soon would start thinking about avoiding to NOT win instead of constantly trying to get better in order to move on to the next level.  That is probably where National Team coma sets in again for some players because when you are one of the best in the league you are playing in, it is difficult to understand what the next step will be. Especially if you don’t focus on the right (or left…) side of the road and know where you want to be going.

Wishing you lots of one putts,
Peter

“What is right is often forgotten by what is convenient.”
– Bodie Thoene

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