Date:Sunday February 18 2007
After an excellent debate on the Vital Arsenal forum regarding the 'problems' Theo Walcott is currently encountering, Vital Arsenal's The Prof, gave his theories on what Walcott is going through.
I have to say I don't think there is a problem at all. You get two types of players - the thinking self reflective types and the instinctive no fear types - Theo is clever and will all always analyse and reflect on things, he is the thinking self reflective type. This is a good and a bad thing, good because he will always learn and make progress, bad because he will hit psychological brick walls, the equivalent to writers block, this doesn't mean he has any football problems, his ability remains the same, it just means he has to break through this wall.
It's tough, I'm a graphic artist and it happens to me all the time, I get a block and I suddenly can't draw or function at my usual level, it's annoying because technically nothing has changed it's just a battle within the mind that I have to overcome, experience has taught me to just battle through it because eventually I always reach the other side and I've also learnt that this creative block only emerges when your brain is trying to take you to the next level, suddenly your mind sets you a challenge and you have to leave your comfort zone, am I up for it? Yes because if I'm setting myself these psychological hurdles then I must subconsciously want and need improvement. On the other hand there are artists who do the same thing over and over again, never changing and forever remaining in their comfort zone, they hit a mediocre level and stay there for their entire career, it's easy but it's also crap. Someone like Stan Collymore is the perfect example of this, he had such ability but wasn't prepared to do the difficult things he wasn't prepared to challenge himself and so he never made any progress as a player or a person. Theo isn't like this, he's clever and he has high expectations and standards for himself so I'm confident he will overcome his creative block.
In fact we should be quite happy that he is hitting this psychological brick wall right now for two reasons.
1. The sooner this happens to a player the better because the quicker they recognize the mental challenges of football then the quicker they become mentally stronger.
2. This is the most important point - only good players hit this psychological wall because only good players feel the need to push themselves and reach a level which is mentally challenging, Theo's current scenario is a sign that he is willing to mentally go where all great players need to go, to challenge themselves and set themselves super high standards.
Even though Roger Federer is not a footballer he is a sportsman who perfectly represents Wenger's football philosophy and why players coming to Arsenal will have to mentally overcome their fears and doubts - Whilst one trick players were out on the tennis circuit winning tournaments Federer was practising in relative obscurity, he got beat by players like Roddick and looked mentally fragile. What people didn't realize is that Federer was not going for the Killer serve or the match winning forehand, he was going for it all, everything. This is a huge psychological hurdle, a person who is prepared to venture into areas of their game which are weak knows in advance that they are in for a hard time, but these type of players are prepared to take on greater challenges in order to make progress on a level that most players don't reach. Now Federer is obviously the best in the world and crucially he doesn't have a weak area of his game, the other players who only developed their strong points are now perplexed by Federers mental and technical ability.
So how does this compare to Walcott? Well Theo has ability, he has speed and good touch but before he came To Arsenal this was the only areas of his game which he worked on or was taught to work on, in other words Theo was encouraged to work on what he was already good at. Not Wenger's philosophy I'm afraid, Wenger wants complete players, Theo now has to work on everything, all the parts of his game that have been hidden away, all the difficult parts which were conveniently forgotten because of his blistering pace. This would be a psychological challenge to anyone but to a 17 year old who is suddenly surrounded by world class players it must be a bombshell of insecurity and doubt.
Luckily in Wenger he has one of the best if not the best manager at developing young talent, Wenger is a master at seeing the reality rather than the hysterical paranoia of emotional reactions, I think his time in Japan played a part in his calming observational abilities. Wenger knows that Theo is a better player now than he was when he first played for Arsenal and ironically put in better performances, he will know that Theo has not gone technically backward since playing with world class talent and he hasn't suddenly lost his ability overnight, basically Wenger knows that Theo is undergoing a psychological personal battle and that he will eventually emerge a better player for it. Wenger has been here many times before, in fact all players who come to Arsenal undergo a psychological transformation.
What doesn't help Walcott is people fusing over him, Henry hugging him, people worrying about him, this is something that only Walcott can sort out himself all he needs is his own mental strength and Wenger's reassuring words and presence.
Article submitted by Professor Calculus
Articles submitted by Vital Arsenal members are based on the opinion of the member and not necessarily the view's of the network itself
Date:Sunday February 18 2007
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