The best players in the world make mistakes, miss penalties and get sent off. The most gifted players have a strong grip on the fundamentals of soccer and possess super human skills. But all this counts for nothing if they cannot handle pressure. If they have mental, emotional and lifestyle issues these will inevitably cripple a soccer player and send him on a downward spiral towards the bench.
To perform at your peak you need to be physically strong, have a high level of fitness, be flexible and be conditioned for 90 minutes of battle. So that covers half the requirements of Soccer, what is the other half? Soccer is just as much a mental game as it is a physical game. Don’t underestimate the power of soccer psychology.
Players consistently deal with high and lows. The roller coaster ride of life influences everyone not just soccer players. It’s how quickly you pick yourself back up that makes all the difference. Poor performance, a lack of form or injuries are enough to break any player. If you want to get ahead of the game and surpass the many other players that have stumbled at conquering soccer, you should spend as much time training your mind as you do your body.
The great players in the world have learnt to manage stress, anxiety, fear and other psychological aspects of the game. Learn how to harness the power of the mind and you will excel faster than your team mates who just focus on the mechanics of soccer.
Players that dream of playing professionally train with the ball every day. But how many of these players imagine this or visualise themselves playing for a big club? How many players use mental imagery to sharpen their game and to improve their skills. It would be a safe bet to assume that less than 5% actually do this consistently. Out of the millions of kids playing soccer each year, only 6% will continue playing into their teens. Further research suggests that only 3% actually fulfill their dreams of playing soccer professionally. Could soccer psychology be the missing link?
This might sound far fetched, but the use of mental imagery has more importance than soccer training itself. Don’t get me wrong, both are extremely important and both go hand in hand. But the difference is that every player trains with their clubs and some even train on their own, but how many kids, players are using visualisation.
Visualisation can be carried out in 2 ways. External visualisation is when you watch yourself playing, like on TV or as a supporter sitting in the stands. Internal visualisation is when you imagine yourself playing and doing it yourself. You are actually on the ground and breathing heavy, sweating and chasing your opponent. These techniques help you familiarise yourself with the tasks at hand. So when you actually experience these situations, you could successfully complete your tasks in your sleep or with both your hands tied behind your back. Mentally you have completed these tasks a million times in your head. Everyone knows what they say about repetition and practice.
Big clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus and Milan employ soccer psychologists. Why do you think they do this? Do they just want to add another person to the pay roll, I don’t think so. They employ these professionals because sports psychology works and is the difference between good clubs and clubs that win the league and champions league.
Soccer academies that specialise in Kids Soccer, have witnessed kids with inconsistent technique utilize visualization to become more dependable players. Soccer psychologists help you discipline your mind to perform at your potential. Its not a magic potion, but it gives you every chance to play at your maximum, at your potential and gives you every chance to succeed.
Before The Game
Every player gets nervous before a game. This is very common but if it leads to anxiety than you are going to encounter problems. Anxiety effects your thinking and leads to negativity. Controlling your anxiety will allow you to become confident and will allow you to perform to your potential. Allow yourself some time to relax before a game and you will find yourself being less stressed
How many kids do you see at training with great technical ability only to look like a baby learning to walk on match day? They get so worked up during match day and make mistakes when the pressure is on. They resemble someone suffering from anxiety with all the indecision and hesitation. With the use of visualization this tension can be released and the energy saved can be used to perform on match day.
Start the path to Immortality
Soccer psychologists also emphasis the use of goals. You must set yourself short term and long term goals. This will give you the added motivation needed to excel. If you don’t have any goals, its easy to get discouraged and consider quitting.
Do not set impossible goals. But challenge yourself and force yourself out of your comfort zone. Challenging yourself is the only way to consistently improve. We see it time and time again, kids with goals advance more quickly then their team mates who are lacking in goals and motivation.
Use the Force
Its very easy to get distracted during a soccer match. To become a great player you need to concentrate and focus on whats happening within the chalked lines. If you master the mental game of soccer, half the battle is won. You can reduce anxiety, stress, negativity and make soccer a more enjoyable experience.
Mental training and visualisation are extremely important. By practicing these methods you have nothing to lose but everything to gain. This could be the difference between you being a “has been” or you gracing every newspaper in the world. Its your choice.
I’ll finish up with a quote from Master Yoda
Do or do not, there is no try. That is why you fail.