We are top of the league! Performance management in practice…


Yes, it’s true. Belmont Academicals are top of the league.

My Thursday night 5-a-side team has won its first two games of the new season, bagging us 6 points and placing us firmly at the top of the ‘Premiership’, the very pinnacle of all British 5-a-side football teams. Or at least, those playing in Turnham Green, London, on a Thursday night.

During our last spell in the Premiership we managed a miserable 3 points over 10 games, with an average of 2.3 goals per game.

Last night we scored 9 and conceded one.

So what has changed?

Actually, not much.

We have simply concentrate on doing one thing better. We mark up, close, and make it very difficult for the other team to play. Then we get a goal on the break. Then another. Pretty soon the other team are chasing the game, leaving gaps, which we exploit. 

If you come from a training background (as I do), the initial reaction to any problem tends to be to lay on more skills. But that isn’t always necessary or even a good idea.

Possibly we could do with some better close ball skills. Maybe some training would make a difference. A small difference.

But at the end of the day, what has made the difference to our performance is nothing to do with training, and everything to do with attitude. Together we decided that we were not going to suffer another terrible season, discussed the options and settled on marking up and keeping our shape as a team.

John Purcell’s adaption of the AMO model to performance is well known:


Performance is a function of Ability, Motivation and Opportunity. You have to be able to do the job, want to do the job and have an environment giving you the opportunity to do the job.

In this case we have good enough skills, and the opportunity is there. What we decided, as a team, was to really apply ourselves to doing one thing really well. One thing which we thought could make a difference to our game.

It turns out we were right – at least for the first two games of the new season.

And it also turns out that training is not always the answer to performance issues.

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