In Soccer – Every Thought You Have Counts Towards Success
GoalNation’s columnist Dan Abrahams shares his insights and advice for success on the soccer field for players of all ages. A global sport psychologist and author specializing in soccer, Abrahams is based in England and works with professional soccer players in the English Premier League (EPL). Abrahams has helped hundreds of soccer players – many of them who play in the English Premier League (EPL) and others who play across Europe. A recent example of his work includes helping Yannick Bolasie make an enormous impact on the EPL for Crystal Palace. Abrahams has held contracts with QPR, Fulham, and West Ham among other clubs and works quietly, behind the scenes with many coaches from top clubs across Europe.
Every thought you have counts. Every thought related to your soccer can make a difference to how you feel in training and how ready you are to compete on match day. It is a simple equation in psychology – your thoughts influence how you feel. How you feels mediates the behaviours you display in the training pitch and on matchday. Your movement, positioning, runs, tackling, passing and shooting are all affected by how you feel. Subsequently your performance is dictated by this powerful loop of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It ALL starts with your thinking. If you want to be the very best soccer player you can be it is imperative that you improve your ability to manage how you think on a day to day basis. Your thoughts are very powerful and impact your training. What you think on Monday is going to affect your focus during your training session on a Tuesday. And how you think on a Thursday is going to affect your ability to compete with confidence on Saturday. Manage is an important word here. I’m unsure that you can control how you think. Not completely. Thoughts pop into our minds as we go about our everyday lives. They come and go like the wind – increasing in volume then reducing its noise at a whim. It’s unhelpful thinking that is the great destroyer. It’s the thoughts that raise doubt, uncertainty and fear. It’s the thoughts that cause you to reflect on your worst soccer. It’s the thoughts that force you to imagine playing terribly on the weekend.
It’s the thoughts that say I can’t and I won’t. The ones that blame and make excuse. These are the silent killers of your soccer. The key is to stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself. Talk back to an inner voice that says you can’t. Talk back to an inner dialogue that prevents you from taking full responsibility for your game. In Soccer Tough I talk a lot about ANTs – otherwise known as Automatic Negative Thoughts. Of course I also talk about the positives – “Take a minute to slip into the mind of one of the world’s greatest soccer players and imagine a stadium around you. Picture a performance under the lights and mentally play the perfect game.” – But the negative thoughts can actively impact a soccer players abilities the fastest. These thoughts are energy sappers and confidence destroyers. You have to stop them from spreading an infestation of ANTs through your mind. To manage your thoughts employ your self-talk. Say STOP when you SPOT yourself thinking destructively. Then use your self-talk to settle your mind on more productive, helpful thoughts. SHIFT by thinking about you playing at your best. SHIFT by thinking about playing your dream game. SHIFT by immersing yourself in training with excellence. And SHIFT by enjoying a moment of reflection on your strengths. If you want to be the very best soccer player you can be you have to start to manage how you think about your game. You have to learn the skill of thinking helpful, constructive and positive thoughts. Champions so often differentiate themselves from the also rans by how they think, not through ability or talent. If you want to separate yourself from your peers on the soccer pitch then start monitoring your thinking on a day to day basis and start to exercise your ability to manage that inner voice. Start it now! Related Articles: Soccer Lovers’ Best Ever Soccer Book Guide: Soccer Tough: Simple Football Psychology Techniques to Improve Your Game by Dan Abrahams
Dan Abrahams is a global sport psychologist specializing in soccer. He is based in England and has some of the leading turn-around stories and case studies in English Premier League history. Abrahams is sought after by players, coaches and managers across Europe and his 2 soccer psychology books are international bestsellers. He is formerly a professional golfer, is Lead Psychologist for England Golf and he holds a degree in psychology and masters degree in sport psychology.