I came across an article in GoalNation about a sports psychologist who works with players and clubs in the English Premier League. He describes the following three key attributes of a top-performing player’s state of mind:
I want every player, no matter their level, no matter their age, to play with fun.
Excellence starts with fun. A man-of-the-match performance starts with a fun mindset. Being determined and being disciplined starts with a mind attuned to having fun on the pitch. So aim to go have fun.
Fun is a building block to playing with freedom – without tension, worry and doubt.
What does playing with freedom look like to you? What does it feel like?
I hope your coach gives you permission to play with freedom – when I say freedom I mean two things.
Firstly, I mean being on your toes, being ready for the next play, being sharp, alert, alive and lively. I mean not weighed down by the burden of fear.
Secondly, I mean being given permission to make mistakes. All soccer players make mistakes – even Ronaldo, even Messi.
If your coach hasn’t mentioned this then I ask you to give yourself permission to make mistakes. Because when you do (and it’s a case of when rather than if), you will have a mindset to simply carry on.
Free players carry on no matter what happens. They don’t dwell on a past mistake. They don’t dwell on going a goal down. They play with fun and freedom.
Of course you need to be focused as well. A great competitor is focused on each play at hand. Having fun and being free gives you a great platform to play with focus.
I want you to pick one or two things you can focus on accomplishing during the game. Make these things controllable. For example, “complete my passes” isn’t controllable. “keeping great body language no matter what” is controllable.