3 Tips to Help Players Build Mental Toughness
Do you think soccer is all about physical abilities and natural talent only? How important is the mental side of your game?
Being a great soccer player also requires focus, concentration, mental endurance, communication, and the ability to mentally bounce back from setbacks. This is a side of the game that also requires constant attention and training.
Here are three tips that will help you.
Control what you as a player can control. There are only three areas that an athlete has absolute control over during training and games: Attitude, body language, and work ethic.
Attitude is the internal thoughts and confidence held by an individual or team. Keeping a positive attitude will help you and your team stay focused and have fun. Body language is the external behaviors by a player or by the team that can be seen by competitors. If your body language is negative, that will feed to your teammates and bring them down. And work ethic, which is giving 100% of whatever you’ve got on that day. If you are always giving it your all. That will help drive your teammates.
I have a saying I like to use with my teams; “Competition breeds success.”
During a course of a practice, game, season that are not in a player’s or team’s control. Players may get injured, teams, they endure slumps, referees make bad calls, sometimes you’re just plain “unlucky.”
The most successful teams and players are able to handle these ups and downs and rather than focusing on the negative occurrences they look at the aspects they can control and continue to fight and move forward.
Soccer seasons are long and can be daunting with too many ups and downs, maintaining consistency tends to be the most difficult part of developing soccer mental toughness. Often teams and players take games or practices off making it difficult to maintain a certain level of play.
Remembering why you play soccer (internal motivation) may help develop this component. If you have to miss for any various reason, do your best to put in extra time when there isn’t a scheduled training or game. Call some friends and go kick it around. Every little bit helps and it’s also fun and rewarding.
Within the above three categories, mental skills can be developed to help increase soccer mental toughness.
Confidence, managing behaviors, especially when a referee makes a bad call, focus and concentration, motivation, positive self-talk, letting go of mistakes, etc. are all skills that can be taught to a player and a team.