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- Helping you win the mental game
“The mental part is the hardest part, and I think that’s what separates the good players from the great players.” – Michael Jordan
Sport psychology and the mental game are essential in reaching peak performance in soccer. A strong mental game is something that a player can learn, grow, and improve on. Athletes must be able to maintain focus, confidence, and a positive mindset.
Below we preview the articles that we've pulled together to help you win the mental game.
Are you self-motivated? Do you take responsibility for your own training and performance? Ian McClurg, Founder of 1 v 1 Soccer, UEFA “A” licensed coach and former Toronto FC Academy staff coach, points out in his article, The Importance of Self –Motivation in Becoming a Top Player, that the self-motivated players are the ones that go on to play at the highest levels of the game.
A recent interview with Arsène Wenger, manager of the topflight English club Arsenal, outlined the importance of young players learning to be “consistently motivated” in order to play at the highest levels of the game.
In his typically thoughtful style, Wenger defined a motivated person as “someone who has the capacity to recruit the resources to complete a goal.” He then gave an example of how he got lost jogging in Japan. He explained how he was motivated to come back to the hotel but could not find his way back. He could have hailed a taxi but as a sportsman he was determined to find a solution himself and find his own way back. In summary, Wenger believes that when you look at people who are successful they are the ones who are consistently motivated and always willing to made sacrifices to achieve their goals.
Can you slow things down and control your concentration and composure while on the field? Coaches Training Room provides us with seven key steps that a soccer player can take to slow things down and think more clearly in order to make good decisions on the field.
Given the fast-paced nature of soccer, as well as the physical demands and emotional intensity of the game, it is very easy for players to become mentally distracted and speed the game up in their minds. When this happens, these players will be more anxious, are not paying attention to what is happening in the moment, and often make bad decisions. As a coach, it is important to teach players how to mentally slow the game down so that they can play with greater concentration and composure.
Do you know how to avoid a slump in play? Dan Abrahams in his article on Preventing a Slump in Form states, “I think self-talk is as important as first touch. By developing the ability to use your self-talk so you improve your capability of managing yourself on the pitch. By saying (self-talk) ‘What next?’ rather thanking thinking (thought) ‘What now?’ so you give yourself a chance to play proactively.”
Slumping players lack self-belief and performance confidence. They suffer from displaced or dispersed focus. And they experience the kind of emotions that are destructive to their game.
In Dan's article he gives a very quick and simple technique that can help you emerge from a slump, and even prevent you from getting into a slump in the first place.
Mastering these mental tactics will help you take your game to the next level.
We have all of this and lots more in this issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete magazine, including an interview with Amy LePeilbet, who retired in December leaving behind a remarkable career that included two National Women’s Soccer League titles with FC Kansas City and an Olympic Gold Medal in 2012 with the U.S. Women’s National Team.