Stay Poised Under Pressure
Stop stressing… Don’t worry about it… Just relax… How many times have you heard a similar comment from your soccer coach or parents just before a big game?
Has that advice ever helped calm you down when you were anxious prior to the start of a game?
Probably never. Sounds like great advice but it gives you no practical direction as to how to stop worrying during a competitive match.
If athletes don’t understand their underlying fear or have practical strategies to stay calm, these common phrases are meaningless.
In our Mental Game of Soccer Survey, one player requested help with staying poised under pressure:
“I become so anxious before and during soccer games that I never play well in big moments. What’s the best way to calm down under pressure?”
Fear will influence your level of anxiety. When you focus on outcomes (messing up during a game or losing a game), your anxiety increases.
For instance, say your team advances to the playoffs for the first time in several years. You have never played in a playoff game in your career. Even though you had a productive season, you worry that you may let your team down. You don’t want to be the reason your team loses…
You feel panicked during the pregame warmup. As the start of the game nears, you fear making a huge mistake. You can see scenarios in your mind where you fail to clear the ball or close out on an attacker, leading to a game-winning goal by the opposing team. You feel the disappointment and exasperation in your teammates.
When you focus on the “what ifs” and possible outcomes before or during a game, you will feel more anxious. This loss of control causes anxiety to skyrocket and mentally takes you out of your game.
As you focus forward and try to predict what could happen during the game, the fear of the unknown cripples your game.
One way to gain back a sense of control and reel in your anxiety is to focus on the present moment, not outcomes.
Elite soccer players throughout the world have used different strategies to stay poised under pressure and focused in the moment.
Orlando Pride and Canadian veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod has worked on mindfulness as a means to stay focused in the present and reduce anxiety.
With all the challenges that soccer players face, especially competing during a pandemic, staying present in the moment is essential for peak play.
McLEOD: “It’s crucial right now to be able to focus on the things you can control, to be able to focus and keep in the present moment which is when you have the least amount of stress and anxiety.”
“Focusing on the things you can control” means focusing on what you can do in the present moment. A present-moment focus doesn’t mean you don’t care about the outcome of a game; it just means you recognize that you have no control over past mistakes… and understand the only way of impacting the future is by staying immersed in the present.
How to Overcome Anxiety:
Telling yourself to stop worrying is not an effective strategy to manage anxiety or fear about how you will perform.
Learning mindfulness helps immerse you in the moment without analyzing or judging how you are playing.
Mindfulness includes strategies such as breathing, guided imagery, mental calmness and physical relaxation.
Overcoming your anxiety is a mental skill that puts you in position to play well rather than beating yourself on the field.
Discover Mental Game Secrets to Soccer Confidence!
Does your confidence seem to disappear when you go from practice to games?
Do you get nervous and anxious in big games or when under a ton of pressure?
Do you get so frustrated after making a bad pass that your confidence sinks?
If you are ready to improve your mental toughens and perform with ultimate self-confidence in games, check out our program:
Learn proven strategies to improve focus, composure and confidence so you can perform at your peak in games!
- Players: Get the mental edge by learning how to take control of your confidence, mentally prepare for games and perform with composure under pressure.
- Trainers: Learn how to give your students the mental game advantage.
- Coaches: Boost your team’s confidence using simple proven mental strategies.
- Parents: Help boost your soccer player’s confidence. Don’t let their mind hold them back any longer.
Learn the top eight mental game lessons for soccer players to boost your mental game and improve consistency. You’ll learn how to mentally prepare for games to performing under pressure to building unstoppable confidence!
What are our mental game program customers saying?
With the mental tools my soccer mental training program has given me, I can say with full confidence I am on my way of signing a better professional contract.”
~ Lucas Gonzales, Professional Soccer Player in Australia
“Dr. Cohn, Michelle had the best weekend of soccer she has ever played. She was relaxed, did not get frustrated with herself or teammates, and never once ‘shut down.’ Numerous parents noticed a difference in her composure and attitude. Thanks again for EVERYTHING…Michelle is in a very good place right now!”
~Diana, Michelle’s Mother