FIVE MENTAL MISTAKES PLAYERS MAKE
Founder of Thrive Football.
Possibly the most underrated aspect of football is the psychological part of the game. It is often the most difficult to master, but it can be the difference between being stuck at the amateur level and becoming a professional.
1. looking at mistakes negatively
Mistakes are 100% inevitable. Face it. They are going to happen many times throughout your career. We have to realize that mistakes can be a blessing or a curse. We have to look at them as an opportunity to grow as a player. When we have the mentality that mistakes are inevitable and we can learn from them, our game can really open up. We feel able to take risks and that's really where the magic happens. When we take risks, we learn regardless of the outcome. Our confidence may get a boost based on a successful outcome. If the risk doesn't go as planned, we can learn and apply what we learned to improve our game.
2. reacting negatively to mistakes
When we make a mistake, many times we get really down on ourselves. It's very difficult to bounce right back, but think about it. What do we gain by dwelling on our mistakes? Nothing. We can benefit from analyzing them after the game, but getting frustrated in the moment never has a positive outcome. The game hardly allows us anytime to regroup, but try this. Next time you make a mistake in a match or training, at the next stopping point, take a couple of deep breaths and tell yourself these three words. "Can't change it." No matter how big your mistake was you can not change it no matter how mad you get. The only thing you can do is forget about it and channel your efforts towards playing the best you possibly can for the rest of the match or training.
3. Lacking confidence
Confidence is a skill that is developed over time. There is no magic trick or tip to instantly gain confidence. If you do not currently have it, don't be discouraged when it doesn't change over night. You just have to work every single day at it and it will gradually become better. Every time you are resilient in a difficult situation or overcome a challenge, your confidence grows. Every time you make an incredible save, tackle, assist, or goal, your confidence grows. Every time you see improvement in your fitness or game, you confidence grows.
The other aspect of confidence is the way you talk to yourself inside your head. Many times we tell ourselves that we aren't good enough. The more you prepare and the harder you work in training, the easier it will be to be confident in yourself. You are confident that you can make a certain pass or shot if you have done it in training hundreds of times. If you don't feel like your are good enough, ask yourself, does your work ethic and training match your ambitions of how good you want to be as a player? Sometimes you have to ask yourself the hard questions to grow as a player. You can only get better from it.
4. not being coachable
The best players in the world never stop learning. No matter how good we are, there will always be room for improvement. Every single one of us can get better than we currently are. As soon as you think you know enough, you have lost and will continue to lose until your mentality changes. Focus your energy on absorbing new information and applying it to your game. Be open minded and adaptable to new philosophies and techniques. One single piece of new information could change your life forever.
5. Improperly setting goals
Many players will set goals at the beginning of the season to hit a certain number of goals or assists. Think about a time that you have done this. Did you take specific actions to achieve that specific goal? Most of the time, the answer is that you worked really hard in training, but didn't take very specific action.
Scientifically, us as humans have a difficult time processing long term goals and implementing them into our life. Now that we know this, we should take advantage of it. I challenge you to look at goal setting in a different way. Try setting fewer goals (three at the most) for specific shorter periods of time such as offseason, first half of season, second half of season. Fewer goals narrows your focus and makes obtaining the goal almost inevitable. Specific shorter periods of time allows you to feel the success you deserve to feel when you achieve a goal, grow your confidence, and give you time to reflect at the end of the period.
In addition, try changing the type of goals you set. Instead of setting a goal for a specific amount of goals or assists. Reverse engineer what it takes to get there. For example, let's say you want to score x amount of goals. In order to score more goals, you need to be good at getting into a position to score and scoring when you get into position. So your goal may be to do a finishing drill 5 times a week and study the movements of a professional that plays your position to see how their scoring opportunities arise. Goals like this specifically allow you to improve the skill set needed to achieve the ultimate goal. They are easily measurable which allows you to hold yourself accountable.