Interested in going to college for soccer? Or maybe you just want to earn the captain spot next season? Read on for tips you should be trying in order to improve your mental game–which will directly affect your overall play.
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1. Set Goals
Setting goals does not mean picking a task out of thin air. It requires deep thought to define both long and short-term goals that are realistic, measurable and have a set achievement date. Be aware of your current level of performance, know what specific goals to set that address your weaknesses, and have a detailed plan to reach that goal. Try formally writing down goals, it can help give a visual reminder of what you plan to achieve.
2. Commit to Your Sport
Do not just be physically committed to your sport, but mentally committed as well. Think about your sport outside of just games and practice. An elite athlete gives their sport utmost importance, which translates into determination and commitment for achieving an athlete’s goals.
3. Be Confident
Athletes that have high self-confidence choose to have and maintain a positive attitude. Spend time developing your skills on a set goal, and be confident that you can achieve the expected outcome. If you fail, your high self-confidence will help come to a realistic explanation as to why. Take that reason and refuse to let it affect your confidence in a dramatic way.
Acknowledge that concentration is a key factor in being the best you can be. Focus on maintaining concentration in both practice and competition, and avoid internal and external distractions. If concentration is broken, regain focus on the “here are now” rather than past or future events.
5. Maintain Composure
This skill is all about maintaining physical and mental control. This is particularly helpful in moments of stress and anxiety. Recognize your emotions and use them to improve your athletic performance.
6. Cope with Tough Situations
Do not simply maintain composure in trying situations, cope with them as well. Handling unexpected events in a positive manner is vital to your success. A poor performance, injury, or other unforeseen circumstances can hinder your mindset and get in the way of reaching your goals. Maintain a positive attitude and outlook on any situation.
7. View Challenges as Opportunities
Elite athletes should view a challenge as an opportunity, rather than a setback. Actively seek them out, and cope with problems along the way. Do not perceive challenges as problems or threats, this will not allow room for improvement.
Visualization is a valuable technique of using one’s imagination to think positively about upcoming events. Try imagining outcomes on the field, and think about exactly what you’d do in that situation. Visualizing yourself in action will prepare you for the real deal.
Staying calm is not always easy to do, especially in sports where there are a lot of high stress situations. Practice relaxation techniques to help regain a clear head and allow you to think rationally under competitive stress. Visualization, listening to calming music, and breathing exercises all can be effective relaxation tools.
10. Deal Effectively with People
In order to succeed in any sport, you have to be aware of the fact that you are just a small part of a larger community. Teammates, coaches and even parents all play a role in your success. The ability to effectively communicate thoughts, feelings, and emotions while dealing with conflicts is all part of the package of total athletic success.
[Bonus] 11. Attend an EXACT Sports Elite Prospect Camp
You now know the tools you can be using, but maybe aren't sure exactly how to execute them, or why they will help you go to the next level. At our Elite Prospect Camps, we teach these skills, along with field sessions run by college coaches who put mental training highly on their practice list. Learn first hand from college soccer coaches how they use mental training with their programs and you surely will be convinced that it is something you need to incorporate into your game in order to become an even better athlete.
Disclaimer: These ten mental training tips are not the only tools an athlete can use in order to up their game, and there’s no saying that every technique will work for every athlete. What’s most important is for athletes to try to incorporate a few techniques into their workout and find what works best for them.