The Mental Game of Soccer
Soccer: The Mental Game
You've heard it before—soccer is a much more mental game than a physical one. You can be the best player out there but if you feel like there are aspects of your mental game stopping you, you should turn to strategies that can get you to engage the majority of your skills and use them.
- Don’t Analyze Every Mistake: While you're playing, the last thing you should be doing is stopping mid-play and letting an error, a bad pass, a missed tackle, get in the way of playing your game. Once you let one play get the best of you, you won’t be able to push through to the next. Mistakes are definitely part of the game so if you are not good with making them, maybe soccer isn't the best sport for you.
- Tune In: The term “get your head in the game” isn't just something shouted out by parents or coaches to players if they seem a little out of it. When you begin playing, you literally have to make a mental transition that helps you leave everything else that doesn't have to do with soccer—all your concerns and worries about family, school, social, etc.—off the field. If you can, before you begin practice or a game, try and finish whatever activity you were doing beforehand with enough time to transition on to the next.
- Don’t Think Too Much: Even though that might sound counter-productive because soccer is dubbed as a mental game, ultimately, if you've trained enough, your body will know what to do. Throwing yourself into the game or training physically can help your brain and muscle memory get tapped into, letting you rely on your body for movement and technique. You will no longer feel like you're overthinking everything.
- Stay Humble and Focused: Even if you've gotten to the international or professional level, you should never let your guard down or your ego in the way. Regardless if your opponent is much weaker than you or your team, regardless if you've reached a high level, regardless of everything, the cocky attitude will get you nowhere and have a reverse effect on your mental game—actually getting you to play much, much below your level. Since that competitiveness isn't being tapped into, you'll be more likely to not concentrate as much or commit errors that you would otherwise never be caught doing.
- It’s Just A Game: On the other hand, if the opponent is bigger or better than you, perhaps older than you, you have to be prepared for all outcomes. Maybe you have to be ready to not win every match or you have to re-think your strategy to defend against a better or bigger team. Even if you lose 0-10, the main thing to remember here is: It’s Just A Game—a beautiful one—but a game.