As soccer players, we train so hard physically -- on becoming a fast soccer player, building strength, agility, and improving technique. But are we neglecting to train our minds? The mind has the same power to be the margin of victory as the body does. Even for young players, it's important to train the mind to handle pressure, adversity, distraction, and failure so that nothing gets in the way of performance, execution, and development.
What does that mean?
Training your mind means building up your ability to focus; it means strengthening your confidence so that you can get back into the game quickly after mistakes or big wins; and it means training yourself to perform under pressure.
Have you ever noticed that you can do a skill perfectly until you ask someone to watch? That’s because that little bit of added pressure impacts your ability to perform! Training your mind will help you learn how to perform in all circumstances--whether it’s showing off for a parent or friend or taking the winning penalty against your rival team.
Here are some examples for each position on how the strength of the mind impacts your game:
- Attacker: As an attacking player, scoring a goal or having an assist is considered success. Because that happens so infrequently, you'll have many more game actions that do not result in success. It's important to be resilient and not to get discouraged, frustrated, or down on yourself.
- Midfielder: Being a midfielder takes bravery. You need to make yourself available and receive the ball under tight pressure very often. Your confidence is key to continue to do this, even after a mistake.
- Defender: Defending well takes extraordinary focus. As a defender, you don't have the luxury to shut off mentally which can lead to mistakes. Your ability to stay focused and confident is key.
- Goalkeeper: A goalkeeper may not be involved in much of the action and then be called upon in an extremely important moment. This is possibly the toughest position, mentally.
Tips for getting started with mental training
In the Techne app, players have access to a section on Mental Training. There are various audio recordings, some from top level pro players, all giving insight on the mental part of the game.
- Try it! Many players are just not familiar with what it means to train the mind. That's why we have some introductory material in the Techne App for you to try.
- Consider where you feel strong mentally and what areas you'd like to improve upon. Some possibilities to think about: Focus, Attention, Positivity, Confidence, Staying Relaxed, Handling Nerves, Pre-Play Preparation, Post-Play Reflection.
- Make it part of your weekly training plan. Like other types of training, consistency is key when it comes to Mental Training, too.
- Check out our list of specific recommendations on training your mind for soccer
We offer one week free for new players. Have you already used your free trial for Techne? Contact us and request an extension.
Try THIS mental exercise!
Find a quiet area and imagine yourself in a game. Pick a certain scenario and see yourself receiving the ball, executing a move, and flawlessly moving the ball forward. Are you an attacker? Imagine beating a defender and placing a shot into the corner of the goal. Use your imagination to make it as detailed as possible, and of course, successful. If you can do this, great work! This is how the top goal-scoring athletes visualize success in their games. You can recreate this type of visualization for any position or role on the field.
Trust and enjoy the process
"My mentality has gotten a lot stronger. The difference between players is so slim the higher you go that you need the 1% to separate yourself." — Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City)
"Just as we train in the gym or on the pitch to improve our technique and our tactical abilities, I believe the mind is something you also have to train." — Alvaro Morata (Juventus FC)