Before I start this post, lets get the harsh reality out of the way first. Let me tell you why this post will not help you or any other post I’ve made under the title “soccer psychology”. The biggest mistake coaches and athletes make with mental training is they fail
- to practice it.
- and they fail to practice it properly.
Everybody hears about techniques that help you think like a champion, a winner or stay calm under pressure situations, but they fail to practice these techniques. How many “self help” books have you read? How much of this information have you actually put in use or practiced. Just as I thought, none. If you read my posts without taking the time to work on the exercises, you will benefit from the ideas and your game will definitely lift, but you will not reach immortality. You, your child or your team will be clustered with the other millions playing the sport. Do you want to reach the next level?
If you are really serious about becoming a champion, or coaching champions or parenting champions and taking your game to the next level, then you must take the time to develop these skills. Mental skills are no different than ball handling skills in that you must practice both in order to excel. If you never practice controlling the ball, how do you expect to stop and control the ball during a match. Similarly, if you never practice mental toughness, how do you expect to block out the crowds and distractions in the grandstands?
Mental development, such as concentration and visualisation need to be practiced in a stress free environment before you can depend on them in match situations. So how do we practice? How much time do we spend on this mental practice? Proper practice means that you must spend time with these mental skills on a regular basis. If you just spent 10 to 30 minutes a day on mental skills, your game would improve ten-fold without training or even playing the game. I can hear you laughing through the monitor, but its true and also scientifically proven.
The most important trait is patience. Give yourself enough time with each of these skills to learn and master them. If you rush through these exercises or get frustrated because they do not work right away you will be robbing yourself,your child or your team of the chance to truly develop as players. The best players and coaches in the world actively use their mental skills to dominate play. They even pay top dollar and hire sports psychologists to train them in this area. Would the big clubs of Europe spend money on something that didn’t work? I don’t think so!
After all is said and done, your wondering what are these exercises? How do i develop mental toughness? Like i said before, patience is the most important aspect of this, that’s why ill be revealing these exercises one at a time in future posts. Stay tuned and start using your head.