NO GOALS says Coach Paul Riley – WIPING OFF THE PRESSURE OF GOAL SETTING
#NoFinishLine — Without setting goals, Head Coach Paul Riley has had a record-breaking season. Riley created an environment empowering his NC Courage players to excel — and let the first rate results come naturally.
Soccer News: Head Coach Paul Riley did not want his players to set goals.
It was that simple.
The team that was on top of the NWSL standings for the 2018 season and won the NWSL Championship, beating Portland Thorns 3-was not focused on outcomes but on the stellar effort of its players.
Being brave: A team not concerned with outcomes but totally immersed in the process of getting better.
Without setting goals, Head Coach Paul Riley‘s North Carolina Courage has thrilled soccer fans with one commanding performance after another. Breaking several records on their way to capturing their second consecutive NWSL Shield and staying on top of the league standings, NC Courage is also the 2018 Women’s ICC Champions. The team epitomizes the best of women’s soccer.
Last year, Riley earned the 2017 NWSL Coach of the Year after NC Courage won the NWSL season title only two points ahead of the Portland Thorns. This year, Riley’s team is 15 points ahead of the Thorns with an amazing 57 points and holds the outstanding record of 17-1-6.
Riley is a players’ coach, and one with a long record of accomplishments.
Soccer fans will remember that he coached the WNY Flash in 2016 and the New York Fury which played in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). A former pro himself, Riley is nationally acclaimed as a world-class coach.
This year, Riley’s NC Courage has raised the bar in women’s soccer. With sheer determination and a highly professional work ethic, the NC Courage players have created a powerful showcase of entertaining soccer — and the fans have responded with enthusiasm and eagerness, leading to high attendance records. With Riley’s leadership and unique approach to empowerment, he has built a club identity that rivals any in the world.
As a coach, Riley believes in using adversity for growth and insisting on stellar effort, not stellar results. The focus — a single-minded emphasis on preparation and team empowerment.
Players don’t decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.
Our Interview with NC Courage Head Coach Paul Riley
Diane Scavuzzo: Congratulations on your spectacular season and being atop of the NWSL standings.
Paul Riley: It’s been quite an amazing season. I don’t think we expected to be 15 points clear, and we’ve been clear most of the season. I think we hit the top early on, and the schedule was kind to us early in the season, but I think its that the team has grown enormously as the season’s gone on.
We don’t really talk about our scores. We don’t look at the standings too much.
I’m so proud of the players and their improvements — how much they’ve developed and matured. I use the word maturity a lot because I feel like that it has been a key ingredient of the last two, three years — and also our culture.
Diane Scavuzzo: What has this season been like?
Paul Riley: We were unbeaten away from home this year, which I thought was really huge because winning it is always difficult.
When you travel, you experience different climates, different fields with different grass, rainy weather, high altitudes — you name it, we played in it. And, to go through all that, and win, well it is a credit to the players.
Diane Scavuzzo: Anything special your team does on the road?
Paul Riley: We made a few changes on the road this year too and we’ve come to the conclusion that that Panera and pancakes is the way to go.
Diane Scavuzzo: Pardon me, what’s the way to go?
Paul Riley: Panera and pancakes.
That’s our pregame meal — Panera and pancakes.
We’re convinced that since we started doing this — we haven’t lost a game away from home so, we get pancakes from IHOP and bring them to Panera and eat in Panera. That’s our pregame, every away game, and we haven’t lost a game.
Diane Scavuzzo: I’m not so sure all the latest sports science nutrition data is going to agree with all that, but I think it’s wonderful. I love it.
Paul Riley: It might not, but what the hell, sometimes you got to do what you go to do.
We trust they make the right nutritional choices their body requires for peak performance.
The reason we went to this was we felt at home games we didn’t control the players’ menu, and after collaborating with the players, we felt the pre-game meal should be individualized — and, in all fairness, it has worked really well for our group.
Diane Scavuzzo: You have seven national team players on your NC Courage roster this season ….
Paul Riley: You know, people say, if you have national team players, you’re just going win games. But, as you know, three years ago when we started, we had zero national team players, so I think it’s a credit to our players and the work they’ve done, and how they’ve addressed themselves as professionals.
It is also important to me the that all the players on the roster are treated equally.
Diane Scavuzzo: This is their 3rd season with you. Did you expect, when you first started with this team, that they would be able to evolve into such a tight-knit group that would produce such amazing results?
Paul Riley: No, absolutely.
I think the first week I called my wife about 18 times to say oh my goodness, I wasn’t even sure we’re going win a game.
At that point, I didn’t realize the work ethic that they had.
It blows my mind to see them, I think it’s just amazing how they’ve developed. It’s the same group almost. We’ve added a player here or there, but everybody’s expectation is the same.
There’s no problems, there’s no drama.
It’s really a fun time with this group. All our players live in the same apartment building and spend a lot of time together. They enjoy being together.
I give them a lot of credit because it’s not easy to be a professional, and they’re great professionals and they put up with everything you could ask every day.
They’re just an amazing group to go to battle with, that’s for sure, any day of the week, any place.
Diane Scavuzzo: What about goal setting?
Paul Riley: We talk about being fearless, being bold, and being brave.
Diane Scavuzzo: You told me you had thrown out the concept of setting goals, could you explain that a little further?
Paul Riley: We wanted the players to come to practice every day and wipe off the pressure of goals.
I told them we’re not going to set any goals.
I won’t worry about stellar results, I’ll worry about stellar effort. We didn’t get set any goals, not one.
We can’t control goals but we can control our mentality, work ethic and willpower.
Diane Scavuzzo: Do you think the pressure of goal setting can have a negative impact?
Paul Riley: When a talented player only scores 2 goals but had set a goal of more, this puts a lot of pressure on the player. Players want to score and they will when they can.
I feel it’s a really important part of our success that we don’t set goals. For me, it is always all about the work ethic.
Photo Credit: Andy Mead – ISI Photos
Related Links: Paul Riley’s Soccer School
Republished – original pub date was 9/10/18