Tip of the Month

The path to playing with confidence comes easy for some players and difficult for others. We often blame ourselves for poor performance when what we lack is self confidence.

In competitive sports, skills and ability are not enough. You can take an average group of players and get them to play above average. You can also take a talented and skillful group of players and get them to play below average.

How does a soccer player become mentally tougher and more confident? Before this question can be answered, it’s important to know and understand the following components of soccer: physical, technical, tactical, and psychological.

In sports, everything starts and finishes with mental toughness and mental strength. All other components become insignificant without confidence.

Here are several suggestions you can use to prepare yourself to gain more confidence as a soccer player:

In playing with confidence, the first step is to prepare yourself physically. This means to get in better physical shape and develop more strength and stamina. This can be achieved by doing extra sprints, push ups, sit ups and long distance running. No matter how tired or sore you might be, just do it. The body is asking you to push yourself, but sometimes the mind gives up on you. That’s when mind over matter takes over. When you get in better physical shape and become stronger, you will feel more confident. You will be able to win more 50-50 balls and even create and score more goals.

Confidence comes from ability to execute. The first step to having confidence with the ball is to develop a better first touch. The ball and you have to become one. Receiving and controlling the ball improves by putting in extra time with the ball. Passing and shooting requires accuracy, precision, and proper form. This is achieved by quality repetition. Players who spend more time with the ball and find ways to refine their skills will play with more confidence.

Decision making is a big part of the game. You will make better decisions in the game if you have a better understanding of how to play with and without the ball, know how to play in all three areas of the field, and have a better understanding how the game is broken down tactically. For example, understanding the role of the first, second, and third defender, and role of the first, second, and third attacker will help you develop a much better feel for tactics. Learning from your mistakes and being in similar situations over and over will probably be the best method for developing a more tactical understanding and improve your decision making. When you become more tactically aware, you will play more confidently.

What separates an athlete from reaching their goals is to never, never, never quit. Quitting on the field or quitting on your teammates is not part of being a winner, no matter what happens on the field or what the score is. With positive mental toughness there is not a goal or a dream that cannot be achieved. Being confident simply means being prepared. Part of being prepared is the ability to relax and work hard at the same time during competition.

Key suggestions in becoming mentally tougher and confident when you step on the field:

* Set a goal
* Be honest with yourself
* Believe in yourself
* Desire to achieve
* Desire to prevail
* Desire to endure
* Never quit
* Desire to learn
* Desire to be prepared
* Desire to lead
* Desire to focus
* Desire to push yourself
* Be supportive of your teammates

No matter what level of soccer you are participating in- recreational or highly competitive, it’s never too late or too early to start preparing yourself and making realistic goals you can achieve. A lot of components of soccer can be mastered from the SMIA DVD Series. The last and the most important part of our game is, no matter what, enjoy playing soccer. If you have any comments or suggestions I can be reached by my email aleks@smia.com.


Aleks Mihailovic