Soccer is Not a Game of Perfect

Soccer Sports PsychologyMany soccer players, who are highly motivated, hold themselves back by trying to play perfect soccer. They expect the very best out of their performance all the time, which can be both positive and negative. Some advantages of perfectionism are having a strong work ethic, desire to improve, and commitment to their goals.

Clearly we want our soccer players to set challenging goals for themselves, but many athletes who are perfectionists get upset or frustrated when they make even small mistakes. Wanting to improve and perform at your highest level is not the problem. The problem is when soccer players are so self-critical that any little mistake in a game causes them to lose focus or check out mentally.

What are some other disadvantages of perfectionism that undermine your mental game of soccer?

Perfectionists often see their performance as black or white, good or bad. Any mistake made can lead to these athletes feeling dissatisfied with their performance, which can hurt confidence and lead to frustration.

In addition, many perfectionist soccer players struggle with fear of failure. Fear of failure can create anxiety, tension, and difficulty performing under high-pressure game situations. Soccer players who fear failure are thinking so much about results that they cannot focus in the moment.

Some other disadvantages of perfectionism include:

  • Super high levels of motivation leading to over-training or burn out
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Worrying about what others think
  • Training and competing to please others
  • Becoming overly technical during games

To improve your composure, you must address some of the underlying mental game challenges associated with a perfectionist mindset. A large part of maturing as a competitive athlete in any sport is understanding that perfection is not possible and not a good goal.

Here are some tips for helping you cope better with perfectionism:

1. Strive for perfection and mastery in practice, but accept you are human and that mistakes are going to happen in games.

2. Train yourself to focus on each play instead of thinking ahead to “what ifs”, such as “what if I miss the open goal and embarrass myself.”

3. Instead of thinking you must play perfectly, create some manageable goals about your performance, such as getting back on defense quickly.

4. Learn to be more accepting of mistakes in order to move forward and focus on the next play or goal scoring opportunity.

If your performance is being held back by a perfectionist mindset, check out our mental game coaching programs that will help you remove these mental barriers.

Download our free e-book, “7 Mental Game Challenges that Block Soccer Player’s Success”, and learn how to overcome other mental game barriers soccer players face.

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