What is experience and what is it worth?
A lot of coaches talk about the importance of having players with experience.
So what is this so-called phenomenon experience?
Experience on the surface is a really easy thing, it’s if you have been in a situation before. Then you have the experience of that situation. In football experience often gets connected with age and/or the number of games a player has played. Often this tipping point is the age of 30, players then get labelled as experienced. This is logical because by the age of 30 a player has been through 1000s of the same situations on a football pitch. Compared to a young player, who has maybe only played one season on the senior level, these experiences are of a lot of value, if used in the right way. You see some players doing better and better after the age of 30 (Buffon, Ronaldo, Chiellini, Pirlo). But some players make the same mistakes over and over even though they’re experienced. I think the difference between these players is how they use experience.
Hear me out, I think an experience is most valuable if you can reflect on what happened, why it happened, and how it happened. That’s why some players get better and better with experience. They can process the situations they’ve been in their head and can reflect on what went right or wrong. Next time they’re in the situation their brain recalls it and can do better. Now, this might not happen after one time, but after 100s of situations this might happen, and that’s what experience is to me. Some players are not able to make these connections themselves and are in a way stuck.
That’s why I think every player should have an individual tactical coach because this coach can help you get experience faster. By actively reflecting on game situations, players can recognize situations faster. Because of this, they will build experience in these situations faster, because they’re conscious about what happens, why it happens, and how it should be.
Think for example about Arjen Robbens signature move, coming inside and shooting. This is something he has developed after doing it thousands of times. Only first at Bayern Munchen, this became his signature move. If I compare this to one of my players, Cody Gakpo, he’s made incredible progress on this move, just by watching himself and video clips of Arjen Robben. Cody Gakpo is not on Arjen Robbens level yet, but he’s on a pretty good level if you look at this specific action.
So I think you can accelerate the part of valuable experience enormously, by being conscious of what you want to gain experience in. If you then proceed to focus on this a lot you can gain a lot of experience in a short time.
What is experience for you?