If the role of the psychologist wasn’t important, the most famous football clubs wouldn’t spend money for cooperation with psychologists. The mental part of the training is a pretty new and exciting thing in research interest which is still developing. „In the United States – the psychological training has been added on the leading position of the US Olympic Committee. Group of sport psychologists have been working since years at the USOC (Sport Psychology Registry) which prepares Americans teams to important performances. The Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs and San Diego currently employ four full-time sport psychologists” we can read in psychologia.net. Fortunately, last years showed that people in Poland also appreciated cooperation with sport psychologists. Psychologists don’t associated only with working with diseases and statements like „we don’t have madmen in our team” is no longer use. More and more coaches notice that cooperation with a sport psychologist brings benefits, both for athletes but also for coaches. Now this skeptical approach is changing, coaches look at what psychologists do and their trust is deeper during the cooperation.
Mental Training on the field
Ok, but what actually the psychologist does on the field? Maybe not exactly on the field, but in the locker room. Cooperation with a psychologist is a long process. It takes a time, requires involvement of both sides and as much effort as a physical training. It’s useless to call a psychologist two weeks before the big event because it’s not enough time for apply changes. Here, I must disappoint you because watching motivational movies and saying „I’m a winner!” is not enough. So how does exactly a sport psychologist work with athletes? Human brain has a huge possibilities. Think about it as about a muscle that you need to train. Some of the athletes have an inborn predispositions, so it makes it easier for him to achieve a big success in the sport career. The good news is that concentration, mental toughness, coping with stress, relaxation techniques or visualization could be developed. It’s only up to you how much effort you’ll put into it.
Very often it is questionable how psychologist could be effective, if he or she has never practiced the specific field of sport. Psychologist could help addicted people and doesn’t need to suffer from it, also he/she doesn’t have to suffer from depression to help people with depression disease and similarly doctor doesn’t have to be sick to cure ill people. While the psychologist’s job in different sport disciplines based on the same mechanisms and similar techniques, so today I wanna share with you some advice which will be useful for football players. In the middle of Europe the football season is almost over. Few weeks ago we could see the finial of Champions League which was surprised to many of us. That’s why I thought this topic might be interesting for you. Now athletes will have more time for thinking, drawing conclusions and can focus on mental side of training.
1. Mistakes are not always bad
Everybody could make a mistake, sometimes it is impossible to avoid it. What’s more, mistakes can teach you a lot and you are able to draw conclusions for the future e.g. what you shouldn’t do. In this way you become more self-conscious athlete. On the one hand you can learn a lot when you make mistakes during the training, on the other hand during the official match you shouldn’t make them. What can you do when mistakes appear during the important performance? First, you should take a deep breath and forget about it as soon as possible. In the situation like that you can notice the higher level of aggression, frustration or maybe you can notice the negative self-talk which only makes the situation worse. Notice it and change the negative self-talk for the positive one. Maybe you will be able to remind yourself one of the positive phrases from your mental training preparation. The field is not a place for thinking about mistakes, you will have a time for that in the locker-room. Dear athlete, the most important thing during the match is full concentration and 100% performance.
2. Lack of the confidence
Dear athlete! It’s not a coincidence that you appear on the field. You deserved it because you spent many hours on hard working. The coach believed in you, so you have to believe in yourself. Confidence in sport is one of the most important factors. You can’t hesitate right now. This is your time and you can tell yourself „I can do it!” and stand up for the victory. The fact that you’re where you’re is a big success and now you are able to achieve more. Low self-esteem is related to a negative self-talk; the decrease of concentration on the task is the effect of that process. It’s like a domino effect; you can stop it, if you’ll be working on your self-confidence.
Self-confidence is a mental trait, but you can work on it, reinforce it and develop it. Don’t leave your mental training the last minute and add it as soon as possible into your training routine. Mental training is as important as the physical preparation.
3. Don’t aim low
Always reach for the best! Set yourself ambitious goals! The topic of setting goals was mentioned a few times on my blog because it’s an important thing for all of us, not only athletes. By setting goals, setting requirements very high and creating dreams we develop ourselves. One of the S.M.A.R.T. rules tells us that the goal should be achievable. I hope you remember it. However, I believe it will be ok when you let your imagination to run wild and you will not create the limits of goals during the match. That approach let you develop yourself. It shouldn’t create a pressure. The mature athlete should think about it like a challenge.
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* Football – through the ‚football’ I mean European team sport, also called soccer.