How do you mentally react when you hit a rough patch or adverse circumstances during the soccer season?
Adversity appears in different levels, from having a bad game, changing positions to season-ending injuries.
How you handle moderate adversity (being benched for a game) will influence how you respond to significant adversity (recovering from a torn ACL) in the future.
When you view adversity as the end of the world, you will lose confidence, feel emotionally drained, become de-motivated, and miss out on growing from the experience.
Place yourself in this hypothetical soccer scenario. You are a late-game substitution in the closing minutes of a tie game. You are on defense, and the ball is deep in your zone. You have possession of the ball, and instead of immediately clearing the ball up field, you hesitate and make a lazy pass to a teammate.
The opposing team intercepts the ball, giving them an easy scoring opportunity which they convert. The mistake costs your team the game.
You beat yourself up for the mistake all through the week. You can’t shed the thoughts of messing up, affecting your focus during practice. As a result, you lose confidence in your game.
In this example, you learned nothing from the situation. The opportunity to improve your game has vanished.
However, you could have responded differently. You could have identified what went wrong and learned what to do differently in future situations.
For example, “The next time, I need to make quick decisions and clear the ball up field or out of bounds to allow my teammates time to get back on defense.”
Handling smaller adversity will build mental toughness and help you handle more challenging circumstances.
USWNT forward Mallory Swanson found herself in a challenging situation when she tore her patellar tendon during the lead-up to the World Cup. As a result, Swanson failed to recover quickly and didn’t make the 2023 World Cup roster.
When the reality of her situation sunk in, Swanson changed her perspective.
SWANSON: “I feel like there’s something I’m going to get out of this, something that I can’t wrap my head around right now. What could be better than not going to the World Cup? Something really good is coming out of this, only time will tell. That’s where my mind has gone, and it’s an everyday kind of thing that I’ve been processing.”
Changing your perspective can turn an adverse situation into a learning opportunity. The mental toughness you gain by facing adversity head-on will help you bounce back from disappointment more quickly.
Of course, adversity will initially stir negative emotions. The key to bouncing back is to remind yourself of these points:
- “There’s something positive I will get out of this.”
- “What can I learn from this experience?”
- “Keep working towards my goals.”
Resources for Athletes, Coach, and Sports Parents
- Learn more about Soccer Psychology Tips and Strategies
- Download our a FREE Mental Toughness Report
- Read our Sports Psychology Articles
- Check out our Sports Psychology Audio Programs
- Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on iTunes
- Subscribe to The Sports Psychology Podcast on Spotify
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