Are you playing to your potential?
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 closing 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.
Concentration is the key to football excellence
- Concentrate on what’s important, one down at a time and let go of everything else (the crowd, your opponents, the coaches, media, weather, etc.)
- Remind yourself of “RED!” “Ready Every Down” as if THIS play will determine the game’s outcome!
- Quickly leave your mistakes and upsets and bad calls in the past where they belong!
- When your focus leaves the NOW, quickly bring yourself back.
- Keep your focus on YOU. On YOUR job and what YOU are doing.
- If your focus drifts to others, the opponents or what you think others are thinking of you, “reset.”
- When you focus on playing YOUR game, you will avoid getting psyched out!
To be at your best, you have to be loose, relaxed, and properly focused, letting the game come to you, rather then trying to force things. If you make mental mistakes before or during your game, it won’t matter how fast, strong or talented you are! You will always under-achieve! Simply put, you have to have your head on straight. You have to be mentally tough. And this doesn’t just miraculously happen by telling yourself that!
What you concentrate on before and during the game will affect your self-confidence, how calm or nervous you are and ultimately, how well you play. When you stay focused on YOU and just one down at a time, you will stay calm and loose, have access to your confidence and as a result, play to your potential!
Dealing with the “uncontrollables"
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 totally 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; and/or sickness or injury.
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 as well as your body. Use these peak performance tools to help you get there. Don’t leave such an important part of your game to chance.
Dr. Goldberg was the Sports Performance Consultant for the UConn Huskies football program and has worked with a number of college and high school football teams. 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 book, This Is Your Brain On Sports.
I play high school football and I get too nervous before the big games and important plays. I read, (Using Your Head...Football) and my coaches can see the difference already. I don't psych myself out anymore and have gotten really good at letting my mistakes go. Thanks so much!
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OVERCOMING PERFORMANCE FEARS AND BLOCKS Are you struggling with a seemingly mysterious performance problem? Have you or your athlete suddenly lost BASIC abilities? FINALLY understand where this FRUSTRATING problem comes from and what you can do about it!
THE MENTAL SIDE OF ATHLETIC INJURIES The mental pain caused by your injury and the temporary or permanent loss of your sport can be far more devastating than the strained or torn ligaments, pulled muscles, ripped cartilage or broken bones. Unless this type of pain is directly addressed and “treated”, your overall recovery will be slow and incomplete.