What’s Challenging About Being Favored to Win?
Most soccer teams relish the opportunity to enter a tournament as the favorite. When you are favored to win, your team is recognized for its talent, skills, and proficiency on the pitch.
You feel as if you should be able to beat every team in the tournament. You may have already beaten most of those teams throughout the year, adding to your sense of invincibility.
Although heading into a tournament as a favorite may give your team a sense of confidence, you should be on guard to not become overconfident.
Over-confidence causes teams to be lax in their preparation, take teams lightly, get off to slow starts and look past the current team to your next opponent. All these harmful mental components make upsets more likely.
In our Mental Game of Soccer Survey, a coach submitted the following question:
“How can I prepare my team better, so we are not overconfident playing against teams that are not as talented?”
When you know what your team can accomplish, it’s frustrating to see them under perform in a tournament.
Getting your team prepared to play at a high level requires a present moment focus. You can keep your team immersed in the moment by reminding players to focus on what is right in front of them.
You should give your team consistent messages; stay focused on this day, this team, this warm-up, and this game plan. Being present in the moment means giving your full attention and energy to playing your best soccer against your current opponent.
USA Women’s Soccer
The USA Women’s soccer team is the hands-on favorite to win the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The USWNT was riding a 44-game unbeaten streak heading into their opening match against Sweden. The USWNT lost in a shocking upset against Sweden, 1-0 starting the Olympics with a loss.
USA defender Crystal Dunn was clear in her assessment of Team USA’s performance against Sweden.
DUNN: “Sweden was a very good team, and we didn’t play our best, and when you do that up against a top opponent, they’re going to punish you.”
In the next game against New Zealand, the USWNT immersed themselves in the moment and beat New Zealand 6-1.
DUNN: “I think we were a little bit more composed, a little bit more patient on the ball this game, and we know it’s going to be challenging chasing that gold medal. So we’re not taking anything for granted.”
Being the favorite means you have the ability to beat every team, but there are no guarantees. Winning requires that you take nothing for granted. And you feel the higher expectations to win every match.
Playing as the Team to Beat
Remind yourself starting in the locker room, “This game.” When you take the field for warm-up, remind yourself, “This warm-up.” At the start of the game, remind yourself of “This possession.”
Play the match by focusing on the game plan, not the favorite to win.
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?
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