Coach Blog

Improve by doing mental training while being at home

Dear Players!
As head of coaching I was a little surprised yesterday with the news of another lockdown, of course this scenario always crossed my mind but that it becomes reality once more is something that still has an impact on me once it actually happens.

In 2020 we reacted to the situation in a very organized way which we are still proud of. This time we will follow the news closely and use the situation in our advantage once more.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” ―Charles R.

During the season we work hard on and off the pitch to develop ourselves. Football is just as much a mental game as it is a physical game. Even if players have the best grasp of fundamentals and the best football training, it's worth nothing if they choke under pressure, or if they have mental, emotional and lifestyle issues outside of football that mess with their heads in the game.

Bouncing back from a poor performance or handling negative emotions is something that comes from having your headspace right, not just practicing on the field. If you want to get ahead of the game, you should spend as much time training your mind as you do your body.

By learning to manage the psychological aspects of the game, you can excel faster than others who just focus on the mechanics of football. With the sudden lockdown we have a unique opportunity, time has been given to us out of nowhere, the question is: what are we as players going to do with this extra time that we would never have without Covid.

Here are a few football training tips to help you do just that: improve by doing mental training while being at home.

Visualize the Ball

Sure, you kick the ball around every day, and you can still do that within the walls of your bubble.

But do you imagine yourself doing it as well?

Even when you're not on the field, you can use imagery to practice your football training. There are two ways you can do it:
  1. external visualization, where you imagine watching a movie of yourself playing football,
  2. or internal visualization, where you imagine playing as though you are actually doing it.

We spend time during workshops at Christchurch United to get ourselves started, now is the time to improve your visualization skills!

This concept will help familiarize you with your task until you could do it half-asleep, with both hands tied behind your back. We've seen players with inconsistent technique utilize visualization to become better players. They simply needed to discipline their mind to perform at the level their body was capable of. It's a great way to get in more practice time for your brain.

Relax, Chill out, Calm Down

Everybody gets nervous before a game or a performance. Unfortunately, anxiety can also mess with your thinking, which can cause you to make bad decisions on the field. If you're alert, but relaxed, you can make decisions better and faster when you're under pressure.

Controlling your anxiety will go a long way to making you feel more confident in your game, because you'll know that it won't affect your performance.

Take some time to relax before each game and you'll find yourself a lot less stressed.

We've seen several players come to us with great technical skill but an overdose of adrenaline. Their technique was great in practice, but they would get worked up and make mistakes when the pressure was on. Indecision and hesitation led to missed shots and passes.

Over the course in their training, they learned to relax and focus before the game and during their breaks to help to get back down to their usual tension level. They were still able to harness that energy, but they also reacted calmly under pressure, putting that great technique to use on the field.

In our current situation we can combine the visualization and learning to calm down.

We can even learn how to get our breath under control while we work out within our homes.

We can improve while developing our skills in this lockdown.

Focus on Your Goals

Having both short-term and long-term goals for your training will motivate you and give you something to strive for. If things don't seem to be improving and you don't have any goals, it's easy to get discouraged and consider quitting.

We talk about goalsetting all the time, if you are not in our Academy where we use Smartabase daily to set our goals you can use a piece of paper.

For the Academy players it is important to keep on setting goals daily during lockdown so we can keep on improving.

The goals shouldn't be impossible, but they should definitely challenge you and force you to step up your game. Challenging yourself is the only way to consistently improve. We're constantly helping our players to advance their skills and become better players.

The players with high internal drive and motivation respond well to this kind of pressure andet high goals for themselves. We see this pay off time after time again as they advance more quickly than the ones who don’t.

The lessons we learn from Todd Astle are great since our short term goals in lockdown can tie in with our bigger goals and our dreams. To understand your why makes it easier to set short term goals during this lockdown to make sure we enter the field again better than we did yesterday.

Concentrate, Concentrate, Concentrate

Yes, it's easy to get distracted during a game. However, part of being a good player is overcoming that. Concentration drills can help you to improve your focus during a game.
But not every drill works the same for every player.

By mastering your mental game, you can reduce your anxiety, overcome negative emotions, bounce back from a bad mistake and make playing football a more enjoyable experience all around.

The mental football training is just as important as the physical, so don't neglect it.

You may be surprised at how much you improve.

Our coaches are looking forward to your questions about the subject and
of course, we would love to see your work!

Stay in touch and enjoy the process!
It is ongoing and we will not be stopped.
Michiel Buursma