Football players and Peak Performance


You’d never think of competing without first preparing physically…so why leave your mental toughness preparation to chance!

A few years back I worked with a Division III college football program that had lost 15 games in a row. Their losing streak threatened to go into a third season unless they could quickly figure out a way to turn their bad play around. What really frustrated the coaching staff was that this year’s squad had the talent to win, but consistently found a way to steal defeat from the jaws of victory. The problem: The players expected to lose. They had stopped believing in themselves and each other. Even when they were ahead late in a game, just one bad break would get them thinking, “here we go again…we always blow it. I knew this was going to happen.” This line of thinking would erode their confidence, kill their intensity and tighten them up so they’d lose once again. They were finally able to snap that losing streak by putting into play some of the peak performance and mental toughness techniques I made available to them.

While you need speed, strength and endurance to play good football, you also have to have your head on straight as well. That is, you have to be mentally tough. This means that you have to have the abilities to:

  • Concentrate on what’s important, one down at a time and block out everything else (the crowd, your opponents, the coaches, media, weather, etc.)
  • Quickly bounce back from bad calls, mistakes and bad breaks
  • Think like a winner and maintain a positive attitude
  • Manage stress by staying calm and loose under pressure
  • Maintain self-confidence
  • Avoid getting psyched-out or intimidated 
  • Keep your motivation & intensity up until the very end

You can’t play good football by trying too hard! To be at your best you have to be loose, relaxed and let the game come to you. 

Want to know the biggest cause of choking in football? Would you like to have the competitive edge over your competition? Then learn to avoid the biggest mental trap that football players and teams regularly fall into: focusing on uncontrollables, the “UC’s”. There are many things that are directly out of your control when you play football. UC’s are the field and playing conditions; the temperature; your opponent’s size, strength and skill level; the crowd; your teammates and how well they play; the coaches and how much playing time you get; your mistakes and anything in the past; the game’s outcome and anything in the future; sickness or injury, etc.

When you focus on an uncontrollable you’ll get uptight, lose your confidence and play way below your potential. If you want to play mentally tough football, then you need to learn to recognize the UC’s and quickly shift your focus away from them to those elements that you can control.

If you truly want to lift the level of your football you need to get smart! Start to work on your mind. Use peak performance tools to help you get there. Don’t leave such an important part of performance to chance. The Mental Toughness Training Package for Football Players (on sale now!) would be a great introduction for all these key concepts!

Dr. Goldberg was the Sports Performance and mental toughness consultant for the UConn Huskies football program and has worked with a number of college and high school football teams and hundreds of individual athletes on both sides of the ball. He specializes in helping athletes bust out of performance slumps and overcome blocks and perform to their potential. He is the author of the revolutionary new book, "This Is Your Brain On Sports."