What is your mindset when you are losing late in a soccer game?
You may never have thought about this question, but you should. There will be many times when you are trailing late in a game.
How you respond depends on your mindset.
If you have a comeback mindset, you will look for ways to turn around the game. If you have a defeatist mindset, you will assume a loss is inevitable.
Either way, you are making a mindset choice, determining how you will respond.
For example, if you are trailing in the second half by a score of 3-0 and choose a defeatist mindset, you will see your situation as hopeless.
You will play sloppily, make more mistakes, and feel mentally exhausted. You will have a host of negative thoughts that affect your play, “We are getting crushed. There is no way we can come back. I just want this game to be over.”
In this case, you are guaranteed a loss.
Conversely, if you choose a comeback mindset, you will continue to fight for the ball. You will refuse to quit and continue to push the ball downfield.
You will be motivated to turn the tide. You will focus on scoring one goal at a time and look for your opportunities.
You may not win the game, but you will be proud of your effort and develop a never-say-die mentality.
Manchester United imploded in a Premier League match against Liverpool 7-0.
Manchester conceded only one goal in the first half, then gave up six second-half goals. Liverpool dominated Manchester in the second half, scoring in the 47th and 50th minutes.
After the third goal, Manchester appeared frustrated, received three yellow cards, and seemingly gave up.
Manchester United head coach Erik Ten Hag pointed to the third goal as the mental turning point of the game.
TEN HAG: “[In the second half], we made bad decisions on the ball, how we anticipated, how we conceded the second goal was annoying. The third is a counter, so unprofessional…At 3-0, that is the game, lost.”
Ten Hag watched his team making mistake after mistake and displayed a lack of mental toughness.
TEN HAG: “I analyze the performance of my team, how is their approach, how is their character, their mentality, how they deal with setbacks. I look at their body language. They did not cope with it.”
Conceding a loss before a game ends, sets a mental precedent.
However, fighting until the final whistle also sets a mental precedent shaping a mental toughness mindset. How you respond when trailing late in a game becomes a habit, and your habits affect your responses.
Playing your best soccer requires positive habits so that you can rise to the occasion despite your circumstances.
Remember, your mindset starts with a choice, and your choices determine your level of play.
Try visualizing past games where you bounce back when trailing late in a game.
See yourself confidently pushing the ball down the field and feeling motivated to turn the game around.
Visualizing is a powerful mental tool for athletes to shape their behavior to respond to adversity positively.
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
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