Is your head getting in the way of your game?
You can be a great player physically, have mad foot skills and perfect touch, be amazingly fast and well conditioned, BUT, if you get too nervous before or during your games, hang onto your mistakes, focus on the wrong things or can’t manage last minute negative thinking and doubts, then you’ll never reach your true potential as a soccer player!
To take your performance to the next level, you have to systematically work on the mental side of your game.
This means that you have to learn how to:
- Stay calm and composed under competitive pressure
- Avoid psych-outs and intimidation
- Control your emotions
- Quickly rebound from your mistakes and setbacks
- Concentrate on what’s important and let go of everything else
- Manage last minute negative thinking and self-doubts
- Play free and loose without getting distracted by your thoughts
- Mentally prepare for your big games
To play like a champion, you have to learn to control your focus of concentration
- Championship concentration means that you have to focus on what you’re DOING and not on what you’re THINKING.
- Keep your on-field focus on “seeing, reading and reacting” – seeing the field, ball and position of the players around you; instinctively “reading” your best move; and then just reacting without thinking.
- Focus in the NOW on the moment by moment flow of the game.
- Whenever your focus drifts to thinking about the future (winning or losing) or the past (a mistake), quickly “reset” and return your focus to the NOW.
- Leave your expectations for the game at home
Mastering these mental skills will help you more consistently play like a champion!
And you can’t master the mental side of soccer without becoming aware of the mental differences between good and bad games. Simply put, to correct the mental mistakes that you might be currently making, you have to first know exactly what you’re doing wrong!
For example, when I was working with the NCAA D-1 Men’s National Champion UConn Huskies in preparation for their first game in the College Cup, the Final Four in soccer, we talked about the need to be able to control your focus both before and during your games, and before and during your PKs. When a player focuses on what they’re DOING, on the ACTION in the moment, they will stay loose and composed and perform with confidence.
However, when a player allows their focus to go “internal,” to their thoughts – thoughts about outcome, how good the opponent may be, the possibility of messing up, what the coach may be thinking, or thoughts about a mistake they just made – they’ll get nervous, physically tighten up, lose their confidence and then play tentatively.
This also means that as a player, you need to know what the biggest concentration mistake is that soccer players make: FOCUSING ON THE UNCONTROLLABLES or UCs! (anything that is directly out of your control)
With the Huskies, I emphasized the importance of keeping your focus on only the things that you can directly control. The UC’s are: The match’s outcome, the coaches’ decisions, the past (like a mistake you just made), how others play, what others may think of you, or the refs. When you as a player focus on the UC’s, you’ll get nervous, lose your confidence and under-perform!
Instead, you need to learn to keep your focus on the moment by moment flow of the game and nothing else! When distracting thoughts pop up, your mental job is to let them go and refocus on the action.
With practice, you can develop and strengthen this mental skill so it’s there for you whenever you need it!
As a Sports Performance Consultant, Dr. G has worked with soccer teams at every level from professional right down to juniors. He was a consultant to the UConn Men’s soccer program and worked closely with the team when they won the 2000 NCAA National Championship. Dr. G has presented at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs as well as for the NSCAA, USYSA and AYSO national Conventions. Dr. G is the author of Playing Out Of Your Mind and the audio set Soccer With The Competitive Edge.
Using Your Head To Play Championship Soccer is a WINNER! It is easy to understand, my kids love it and I can see the key changes in their play since we have started working with it with our team! Thanks
Dr. G is one of the leading sports performance consultants in soccer. He has the knowledge, skills and experience to get players' heads on straight so they perform their best. His Developing Mentally Tough Soccer Players will help any coach build a mentally tough team!
Dr. G. Really Great Soccer CD set! Have been listening to it with my son in the car on the way to/from practice. It is very well done and incredibly helpful to us!
Since I started working with your CDs, I have finally gotten a handle on my pregame jitters and stopped the freezing that would always go on for me at the start of my games. My confidence is back and I am no longer afraid to use my skills to take players on!" I am having fun again- thanks!
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I coach a high level U-14 club team and I am using your CD's with my entire team. My son also plays for me and his headset has done a complete 180! When it mattered he'd hang on to mistakes and get tentative under pressure Now he's a completely different player!
There's nothing out there for coaches quite like your book, (Developing Mentally Tough Soccer Players). If you are serious about training kids to play mentally tough, then this is THE resource you need. It's like my mental toughness bible!
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I am a varsity coach and made your Playing Out Of Your Mind book mandatory reading for my entire team. We spent time each week going over the skill areas and my kids loved it. Better yet were the results- they stayed focused under pressure and played with poise and confidence!
This book (Playing Out of Your Mind) is the reason I made my ODP team. It's saved my game. It taught me how to leave my mistakes behind and how to play confidently. It's an important part of my game bag. I won't go to tournaments without it.
I have all your books and use your techniques as a professional soccer coach in England. I work with players of all ages and find that with adjustments to compensate for the difference in cognitive capabilities, your techniques have served me so well over the years!
I'm the starting keeper for a D-1 program and use to find myself worrying about making more mistakes or the coaches pulling me. I have been "working" with your products ever since! The difference in my mindset has been incredible. My confidence has grown and I am a better player!
Last season was the first time I worked with DMTS with my entire team. I have to say that to a man, they have gotten fully on board. At the end of the season we won the League Championship. My guys have continued to comment on the skills they learned from our sessions.
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I've coached club soccer for 25 years and this is probably the best mental toughness coaching guide for this sport I've ever seen. It's covers every aspect in developing a mentally tough team, and your sense of humor throughout makes reading it a pleasure. Now I have a "bible" to follow!
This book has totally changed my game! I used to get psyched out against certain teams and players. Then I'd play afraid. Plus when I made mistakes, they'd stay with me the rest of the half. Your book has taught me how to be mentally tough. I'm getting more playing time than ever!
I love Using Your Head to Play Championship Soccer. I saw myself on those pages and it opened my eyes! You've taught me how to keep my cool when things don't go the way I want them to. I don't get psyched out anymore and I can say I have never focused better under pressure!
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