5 Ways to Master the Mental Side of Defending
In order to be a player that is hard to beat, you need to have a strong mentality. Good defending always starts with a good mindset.
Here are five ways you can master the mental side of defending:
1. Focus on the task at hand
Your mind should be laser-focused on the next play and then the next play and then the next play.
As a defender you have to be thinking three steps ahead, but playing present. It’s a hard balance. Remember to be proactive, not reactive as a defender.
2. Visualize successes
Picture yourself winning the ball out of the air while you’re defending a corner kick, and then actually go win it.
Visualizing success before it ever happens will go a long way towards boosting your confidence, and in turn, helping you play better on the field.
3. Realize your skill set
Know that you’re good enough to be where you are, and play like it. You got to where you are because of the skills or the work ethic you possess, always keep that in mind.
It’s important to play to your strengths on defense.
4. Be Relentless
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. There are infinite chances to mentally beat your opponent throughout the game. Don’t let them get to you if they are talking smack. And don’t get down on yourself because that will likely make you play worse.
If you make a mistake – go win it back, redeem yourself, and get on with the game. Your opponent will know if they get into your head and they will try to throw you off your game as much as possible.
5. Show some gamesmanship
Be aware of everything that is going on. If your team is awarded a free kick and the opponents are all retreating with their backs facing you, play the ball quickly when they aren’t ready.
When the ball goes out of bounds for a throw-in, run and grab the ball – this sometimes influences which team the referee decides the throw-in is actually for.
Understand the speed of the game, and be aware of how much time is left. If there is no visible clock, ask the referee. Then you can figure out if you need to slow the game down to give your team a chance to catch their breath.
Awareness and gamesmanship can give you an edge on your competitors.