Playing Smart Against Dirty Tactics
Does playing against a bully team throw you off your game? It is easy to lose your focus when playing against opposing players who foul, hold, trip or push you during games.
We receive many questions from our Mental Game of Soccer Survey regarding the rough play from opponents and the missed calls by the refs.
When you focus on the ‘dirty’ plays, the rough opposing team, or non-calls by the officials, you take the focus off playing the game and become hyper focused on what the other team is doing around you.
Losing your focus means you lose sight of the opportunities to move the ball up the field, make crisp decisive passes, create scoring opportunities, play within your position and put the ball on net when you shoot.
You will be less aggressive going for the ball to avoid contact. You may force a pass as you feel an opposing player bearing down on you. You second guess your decisions. You are hesitant going for headers from corner kicks. You make more mistakes when you are focused on the physicality of your
When you focus on the bully play by opposing players, you feel uneasy, frustrated, and angry. You may even start fighting back, fouling your opponents, and get a yellow card for taking down an opposing player. It feels unfair.
When you focus on the tactics of the opposing team, you give them a mental edge.
To play well, you should focus on executing your game plan, playing intuitively, and trusting your ability to perform at a high level.
Fouls and rough play are nothing new for Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic. Pulisic has been fouled 11 times in five Premier League matches as opposing teams try to frustrate Pulisic and knock him off his game.
Pulisic has stayed focused despite the hard play and fouls by opposing defenders.
Instead of retaliating physically, Pulisic has responded with three goals and an assist in seven matches for Chelsea.
PULISIC: “When players start to get to know you more, watch films, see how you play, then it [the physicality] is normal. With how I play it is normal, they do anything they can to take you off your game. It is a physical league; I have been kicked a few times in CONCACAF so I am used to it. I will be alright!”
Pulisic keeps his composure because he focuses on what he is doing and not the hard play from opposing players. Pulisic understands fouls are a part of the game and he realizes he has faced rough competition in the past and has still played at a high level.
When you manage to keep the focus on you and your game, you lock in on the opportunities, maintain your poise, and play freely, intuitively and creatively on the field.
Tip for Maintaining your Focus against Rough Opposing Players
Playing against bully opposing players is a mind game inside the game. Opposing players are trying to knock you off your game by getting inside your head.
Opposing players know if you become frustrated, you may retaliate and get a yellow card.
You can overcome the mind game by sticking with your game plan and staying focused on playing the game. Focus on your objectives on the field, such as to keep good shape with your team.
If opposing players know that they cannot rattle you, those players will play rougher and become rattled themselves. Playing with focus and poise can help you overcome a lot of obstacles 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!
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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