by Alex Poletti
Sitting at first place in the Premier League, Liverpool F.C. head coach Jürgen Klopp has pressed the need to continue improving. As a result, the esteemed coach has enrolled all players at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to improve their ability to fake injuries on the field.
Klopp, who is credited with the popularization of the Gegenpressing technique, is no stranger to fundamentally shifting the way people think about football. Enrolling his players in RADA’s rigorous acting program is a risky move, but one that could have incredible dividends.
“We are a good team, there is no doubt about that,” Klopp says. “But we are missing the one thing that really makes football football: the ability to feign injury.”
Faking injuries, or diving as it is known in the associated football world, is used to draw fouls, potentially even leading to referees doling out red cards to opposing players. While they are ranked second in goals scored, this added strategy could give Liverpool the edge against rival teams like Manchester United.
Despite the unorthodox methodology, staff at the Royal Academy has been completely supportive of the process.
“We think this is a great opportunity for the players,” RADA’s lead acting tutor John Beschizza says. “We’re starting them off with a heavy dose of Stanislavsky to really understand the fundamentals of acting. However, no acting training could be complete without some elementary textual analysis and sense memory work.”
Although the learning curve was difficult, the Liverpool team quickly picked up on the basics and continued to work hard outside of class.
“I carry ‘An Actor Prepares’ with me everywhere I go,” Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah says. “When I can, I try to read up on Uta, too. I really want to stay on top of my work and explore my emotional reasoning behind every choice I make on the field.”
While the program started just as a way to help make injuries more convincing, the techniques learned at the Academy have seeped into other aspects of the game.
“Every time a teammate passes me the ball, I ask myself ‘What do I want?’ and ‘What is my relationship to this ball and the person who passed it to me?’” midfielder Fabinho says.
After a few weeks of training, Klopp and Beschizza agreed to up the course load for players to allow for a more holistic approach to acting.
“I think improv is a vital part of their future as actors, and I’m glad they contacted me to help,” improvisation instructor Christopher Heimann says. “The last thing you want is when the referee comes over, for you to freeze when he asks you a question. When he asks if you are injured, you must respond with ‘yes and’ before continuing on with the scene.”