DAN ABRAHAMS: Soccer Is A Mindset Game — Part 1
GoalNation’s columnist Dan Abrahams shares his insights and advice on success being a game of mindset and how understanding this can help 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).
America is hungry for simple psychological tools and techniques to implement.
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.
Dan Abrahams explores soccer being a game of mindset and how it impacts you whether you’re on the field or sidelines.
Soccer News: I recently attended the NSCAA Convention in Los Angeles and had the honor of speaking and sharing my ideas about soccer psychology to an audience of enthusiastic coaches.
The NSCAA Convention was amazing. Throughout the five days I spent in California, it struck me that America is hungry for simple psychological tools and techniques for soccer players, coaches and parents to implement.
I’m passionate about players, coaches and parents working together on the mental side of the game. I don’t think there’s anything more powerful than players utilizing sport psychology and communicating with their coaches and parents to improve. One of the things I discussed with coaches at the NSCAA Convention was the importance of understanding why soccer is a game of mindset.
It’s all too easy for players, coaches and parents to see soccer as a game only of technique, tactics and physicality.
It’s too easy to ignore the structure and function of the brain and how it impacts training and match day.
Over the next two articles, I’m going to introduce GoalNation readers to two reasons as to why soccer is a game of mindset. We’ll explore the importance of each point with relation to the player, the coach and the parent.
So what is the first reason why soccer is a game of mindset?
Seconds Vs. Milliseconds
I’m always asked how soccer can be a game of the brain. After all, soccer works so quickly, right? It takes a second to score a goal. It takes a second to pass the ball or give the ball away.
But what many players, coaches and parents don’t appreciate is how fast the brain works.
While soccer works in seconds, the brain woks in milliseconds.
The brain is throwing out thoughts and feelings as you’re playing, coaching and watching – it’s operating so much quicker than the game itself.
If you’re a player, the speed of the brain impacts your game.
A soccer player, coach and parent need to manage their brain on and around the soccer pitch because the brain is such a powerful piece of machinery. It works in milliseconds. It trumps soccer for speed every single time. Be aware of this before every session and before every match.
Miss a great chance to score and you have an instant thought and feeling response. Go a goal down and your brain sends thought and feeling messages to your conscious mind.
And here’s the thing – not all of these thoughts and feelings are helpful. And unhelpful thoughts and feelings impact your awareness, your anticipation and your decision making. They tighten your muscles and impact your first touch, timing and coordination.
As a competitive soccer player, you must have the capacity to manage your brain while you are on the pitch.
It’s the same if you’re a coach or a parent. A coach’s brain will respond within milliseconds to what is happening on the pitch, and not all of those responses are constructive. They can be destructive. Negative emotions such as anger, frustration or despondency can rule your coaching mood and your decision making.
Can you really be the very best coach that you can be if you are frustrated?
Can you really communicate effectively and make impactful coaching points if you don’t strive to manage your brain as you observe your players and as you coach?
A soccer parent’s brain works in exactly the same way. While watching a child’s game a parent will have an instant response to their child’s performance. They may experience an instant injection of frustration if their child is playing poorly or if their child’s team is losing.
This is why it’s so important for a parent to relax, enjoy and take a nonjudgemental stance towards the game.
By allowing a child to have fun, focus on his or her coaching points and resist getting overly involved, a parent manages his or her brain.
One of the reasons why I’m so passionate about the link between player, coach and parent is because I’m launching my new Online Soccer Psychology Academy this month (February 2017), which will provide players, parents and coaches with simple and fun animated video sessions on the psychology of soccer, which allow them to collaborate and work together to develop their psychology.
DAN ABRAHAMS: Soccer Is A Mindset Game — Part 2 with more advice and information coming later in February!
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 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.
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