4 Ideas for Becoming a Mentally Tough Defender
If you're going to be a defender that can stand up to the rigors and intensity of high level competitive soccer, developing and cultivating mental toughness is just as important as building up your physical and technical abilities. If the brain isn't properly trained and nurtured, the physical qualities of your game will only take you so far.
The beautiful game is a thinking person's game, a game that requires cognitive prowess, quality decision making, and game intelligence.
Here are four ideas for bulking up your brainpower:
1. Train Your Brain
Learning to become a mentally tough defender requires practice and routine just like any other physical attribute you are working to develop, so start to train your brain to react positively to even the most unsettling conditions.
This might mean drawing inspiration from troubling times outside of the game, recalling past challenges, and how you were able to overcome them, or learning about family history, trials and tribulations, that can inspire.
Train your brain to recall the times when things weren't going well, remembering how you or someone you know got out of a bottomless hole, and use those memories to trigger a response to trying moments when your team loses the plot on the pitch.
2. Never Give Up Mentality
If you're truly going to become a lynchpin at the back for your squad, you've got to develop a never say die mentality, a resilient sense of character that helps urge your teammates on, out of the depths of despair, and into the realm of comeback and resiliency.
To become a leader who never backs down, you've got to carry yourself with confidence and calm intensity, willing others along towards greatness by displaying pride for the badge, unfaltering commitment to your teammates, and the enthusiasm to show your peers that no matter how awful things look, you will not go quietly into the night.
3. Learn to Take it Over The Line
Almost all defenders have been there, you've been defending a slim lead for what seems like an eternity, your legs are heavy, your brow covered in perspiration, and every second seems to take an eternity to pass on the scoreboard.
These are the moments when mentally tough defenders know that they have to help their team take the game over the line, they know that conceding is not an option, that holding strong, and sticking together, is the only way to finish like a champion.
Developing the mentality to take the game over the line is the sign of the unrelenting competitor, and can only be achieved if you're willing to sacrifice everything for the sport you love.
4. Make Others Better
Mentally strong defenders make others around them better, they encourage rather than discourage, they demand excellence in training and during a match, and they exude special qualities that their peers become infected with and inspired by.
Strong-willed players can sense when others around them lack confidence, are growing frustrated, or are seemingly distracted, and they take it upon themselves to recenter their teammates, and get them focused on the task at hand.