Youth Soccer Players, as well as Adult and Professional Soccer Players, need Colossal Confidence to Play Their Best in Any Big Game
Global sports psychologist and author specializing in soccer, Dan Abrahams is based in England and has helped hundreds of professional soccer players – many of them who play in the English Premier League (EPL). Players from Crystal Palace, QPR, Fulham, and West Ham United among other clubs have benefited from Abrahams insights and advice.
As a regular columnist for SoccerToday, Abrahams wants to help youth soccer coaches and players reach their highest levels of development. Abrahams also wants to help soccer parents understand what it takes to be successful at every level of this highly competitive field of dreams.
The Soccer Opportunity
Do you have a big game coming up? A trial? A must-win match? A Cup final? An opportunity to shine in front of scouts or College coaches?
If you do, I’d like you to play with confidence. I’d like you to play on the front foot rather than the back foot.
I’d like you to play with freedom and not fear.
But to do this you need to have techniques to build colossal confidence. You need to train your brain for the big occasion. And you know what? It’s simple. It’s so, so simple. Everyone makes such a big fuss about confidence, but in many respects, it’s so simple to play with confidence. And I’m going to show you how:
Imagination – Firstly, I want you to use your imagination. This is what we’re going to do. I want you to power up your time machine. We’re going into the future.
I want you to envision the big game you’re about to play. And I want you to create a very important movie in your mind. And when I say ‘create’ I mean ‘really create’. Don’t hold back. Be strong with your inner images. Create a powerful, dynamic, supercharged movie.
Make that movie not just how you want to play, how you want to compete, but how you want your mindset to be.
Make your inner movie big and bold and bright. Make it explode in your mind. Make it loud and noisy.
What does an 8/10 game look like? What does 10/10 look and feel like? What about 12/10? 15/10?
You’re Neuer or Busquiets or Pique or Di Maria. What does this look like? What does this feel like? What will others see when you play like this?
Busy like Kane. Head up and on your toes. Always looking for that gap, always scanning for space.
Gazing like Griezmann, cunning like Kante, rapid with thought like Ramos, relentless like Kroos.
What does this look like? What does this feel like?
What emotions are running through your body? Where is your focus? What do your eyes see?
In your mind play hard, play fast. Be unstoppable, uncatchable. Relentlessly busy. Strong and determined.
Now come out of your time machine and clear your mind. Start to bring your attention back to the present moment and to yourself. You need to develop the ability to focus on you…
Focus on you – fix your mind tightly on you. And only you. Determine that nothing and no one else will impact your game. Nothing and no one. Nothing and no one.
Because that is what champions do. They stick like super glue to what they can control – and they know that the only thing they can control is themselves.
They can’t control the opposition, they can’t control their teammates.
Now there’s a bit of flexibility in this philosophy. When I say ‘focus on you’
I mean focus on what you can do to be the very best individual you can be and the very best teammate you can be. So of course, this will require an appreciation of what the opposition bring to the game, as well as a focus on the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates. But always, always bring things back to you. Because your job, your sole job, is to respond to the opposition and your teammates in the most positive way you possibly can.
If the opposition is playing great, then that’s fantastic for you … you’re going to respond on your toes, sharp, alert and alive.
You’re going to be the player who breaks their momentum. If your teammates are having a shocking game that’s even better news for you. You’re going to stand out – you’re going to help them raise their game.
You’re going to dominate by demanding they keep incredible body language – that they stay relentless despite mistakes, that they keep speaking to themselves positively in spite of being one or two goals down.
Because that is what confidence looks like. This is what champion soccer players do.
Related Articles: Dan Abrahams on SoccerToday