Becoming a Soccer Optimist

The following article is an excerpt from Amplified Soccer Athlete magazine and is also available in the Amplified Soccer Training Center. Content contributions come from some of the top professional training, nutrition, mental-game and fitness leaders in the industry. We know you’ll enjoy your experience. Subscribe Today


By Dan Abrahams, a global sport psychologist helping people to high perform. Get more from Dan at www.danabrahams.com

There is an enormous amount of scientific evidence to suggest that being an optimist in sport is a healthy, happy and optimal way to become the very best you can be.

Optimism has been linked to all kinds of exciting factors including better performance, an ability to overcome adversity, maintaining motivation, reduced chances of burnout and more wins.

In contrast, pessimism has been equated with a greater chance of depression when things go wrong, underachievement, poor responses in stressful situations, and under performance during pressure moments.

So there you have it. The science says ‘learn to be optimistic’. And I must admit, that over the past 15 years of consulting with some of the very best soccer players on the planet I agree with the science. I find players who are able to engage in a half-full philosophy when it comes to their soccer are better equipped for the highly charged and pressured world of global football.

But how do you develop an ability to look at your soccer world through those rose tinted glasses? I hope my “4C Guide to Optimism” may help. 

Cope

There will be tough times. You will make mistakes. The referee will make outrageous decisions against you. You will lose matches. You will likely be dropped. You will probably start on the bench. Bad stuff is going to happen. And you’ve got to accept it and be ready for it.

Optimism is mediated by your ability to cope, which in turn is influenced by your acceptance of tough times. These might be micro tough times – those moments during matches when things go wrong or go against you. And they might be macro tough times when you sustain an injury, a slump in form or a period out of the team.

Accepting that tough times will happen helps your brain and body prepare for them. It doesn’t mean they will happen, but it does mean you’ll be energized to deal with them if they do arise. You will cope. 

“I can cope if we go a goal down. I can cope if I make a couple of mistakes. I can cope if I’m dropped. I can cope no matter what happens on and off the pitch”.

This is a great inner voice to have. An optimistic inner voice.

The other 3C's are Control, Can-Do, and Commitment. Get the rest of this article in the September Issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete. This issue includes an article from former North Carolina Tarheel National Champion, Yael Averbuch, on her championship experience; interviews with Becky Burleigh and star players from the University of Florida; an article on the differences between college and pro training with legendary coaches, Schellas Hyndman and Randy Waldrum; and articles on making the transition to college soccer and what an injured player can do to support the team. These articles along with many more await you. Subscribe Today.


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Dan Abrahams

Dan Abrahams is a global sport psychologist who works alongside some of the leading players, teams, coaches and organisations in the world. He is known for his passion and ability to de-mystify sport psychology, as well as his talent for creating easy to understand and simple to use techniques and performance philosophies. A former professional golfer and PGA golf coach Dan has a First Class Honours degree in psychology and Masters degree in sport psychology. Academically he is visiting lecturer at several universities and he holds registration with the HCPC (meaning he is legally safe to practice as a psychologist). Dan works in all sport but specialises in football/soccer and golf. He is Lead Psychologist for England Golf and he works with players from leading amateur through to Tour players. In football/soccer psychology he is regarded as a leader in the field. He has some of the leading turnaround case studies in Premier League history and he has written two international bestselling books. One of these books, Soccer Tough, has been heralded one of the most important books in football. He currently works with players, teams and organisations across 'Planet Football.' Dan also works in the Corporate Sector delivering his sport psychology techniques and philosophies to individuals and groups.