Mistakes On The Soccer Field Are Inevitable – Learn To Live With Them
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.
Mistakes happen on the soccer field all the time and at all levels of the game. Even the famous, legendary Lionel Messi has suffered.
What separates those really successful playmakers from the rest? Their ability to move on and not not to dwell on the past errors but seize the opportunities for success that lie ahead.
Mistakes are inevitable in soccer – but they can be reduced.
Here are a few ideas how:
Accept mistakes: It sounds ridiculous, but I like my clients to go into a game with the mindset and philosophy that they will make mistakes. This is because I want them to lessen the feelings of anxiety that are twinned with error: “I’m going to make a mistake in this match – it will happen, but that’s ok. I can deal with giving the ball away.”
Paradoxically, the tightness you feel as a consequence of caring too much about error causes error. Fear of mistakes creates mistakes. Relax, calm, chill out. Errors will happen, but they’ll happen more often the greater your preoccupation with making them is.
Play for mistakes: This is another ludicrous sounding idea, but bear with me. I’d like you to play with freedom. I’d like you to dare to lose to win. I’d like you to unshackle your ankles and play fleet of foot and with a risk-taker’s attitude. In this way you may make the odd mistake, but you’ll also give yourself a chance to be a match winner. That’s agreeable I’m sure.
I don’t want you to make a mistake, but I do want you to play with a winner’s mentality. This type of mentality plays with freedom rather than fear, on the front foot and not the back foot. Think about this. Try it in training. Commit to it on match day.
Focus through mistakes: When you make a mistake (because it is a case of when and not if) be ready to “forget it and move on.” This is so much more difficult than it sounds. The brain loves to bookmark failure – it loves to direct your focus of attention on the bad things that are happening during a game. It is vital that you become the one soccer player who is able to shrug off a mistake.
It’s imperative that you are able shift your focus of attention onto the now and the next 5 seconds. The previous 10 seconds of error needs to become history.
One simple but powerful way to do this is to commit to taking action following an error. An action could be to win the ball back. Another could be to be vocal. Another might be to ensure you are keeping incredible body language.
Learn to handle mistakes and you will go far – on the pitch and in life.
Image of Messi – July 13, 2014: Messi upset after Germany defeated Argentina in the 2014 World Cup Final at Maracana Stadium. Editorial Credit: AGIF / Shutterstock.com