‘It is a soccer player’s ability to manage his mindset that separates him/her from your peers.’
Of all the mindset qualities one can think of – it is self-belief and confidence that tend to be the most talked about, the most sought after, and the most elusive.
It doesn’t take ownership of a psychologist’s couch to know that the possession of self-belief is a sportsman’s must have acquisition. Its presence is where excellence begins. Yet few soccer players know or understand how to build and maintain self-belief. Some deem it impossible to control, while others have never thought of exercising its management. Similarly most allow it to come and go like their weekly fixture list. This abandonment is not an indication that they care little about self-belief, more that they just don’t know how to develop it.
All too often a soccer coach will point to the training ground as a path to self-belief. Many coaches preach the simple equation ‘building skill leads to belief’ but as we explore – that simplistic viewpoint is incomplete and less powerful a drink than adding mindset into the mix.
Self-Belief and Confidence
Self-Belief and confidence are closely related. To me, self-belief in sport refers to the bigger picture; how you feel about yourself as a competitor. In contrast confidence in sport is how you feel about achieving success in a given moment – such as training or in a match, or while executing a skill such as heading or tackling.
Self-belief fuels confidence. It is impossible to be confident on match day if you have no self-belief. It is possible to be confident on match day some of the time if you have some self-belief. But if you ooze self-belief, if self-belief is flowing around your body and through every pore, then you have a great chance of playing with consistent confidence. And high self- belief delivers bullet-proof confidence. Have a bad game and high self-belief means you won’t be as susceptible to a slump in form.
Self-belief is to confidence what foundations are to a house or an engine to a car. My job is to give soccer players ideas and techniques to build a strong foundation, or if we’re using the car comparison, then a top class engine. In fact, I’m trying to pimp out their ride by increasing its power!
‘Self-belief to confidence is what an engine is to a car. A soccer player without techniques to improve his/her self-belief won’t move forward’
Of course if you play soccer you have an image of you as a soccer player. This is your soccer image. Your soccer image refers to the pictures and movies you have in your mind related to your soccer.
‘Every soccer player has a soccer image – an image housed in their mind related to how they see themselves as players’
When you think about your soccer game what do you see??? Take a few minutes to allow your mind to build a small picture book or short you tube video. What images does your mind settle on? Do you see crisp, sharp movement or lethargic, slow actions/ Does your brain direct you toward confident completed passes or anxious mis-directed balls?
So, now try this yourself. Try nourishing your soccer image. Start to remember your very best game from the past couple of seasons. Play your best game movie in your mind. See and feel the movement you had, the shots you took, and the tackles you made. What were you like in the air? Were you strong and committed? Were you a leader: loud , dominant and demanding? See and feel in your mind as many positive actions you executed. Were you first to the ball with ease? See and feel the runs you made and the body shape that allowed you to view the runs your team mates and the opposition.
Do this exercise every day. Feed your mind with the plays of your best game. As you do so – allow a wave of belief to flow through your body. Enjoy the process. Make your mind movie big and bold and bright with surround sound. Use as many senses as possible, especially what you saw, what you felt and what you heard.
Keep a journal or as you might call it, a Soccer Bible”
In this journal, write down the3 best ever games. Write them in detail just as we’ve mentioned before. This will give you something to come back to every day that can help build and maintain a strong soccer image. It will help you take control of the memories you have of your soccer.
‘I think constantly about my strengths. I dwell on best moments. I resonate my best games. I know my weaknesses & love 2 try 2 improve them’
‘A soccer player should exercise his/her mind every day just as he/she does the muscles’
…to be continued!