Dan Abrahams On The Common Trait Successful Pro Soccer Players Share
A global sport psychologist and author specializing in soccer, Dan Abrahams is based in England and has helped hundreds of professional soccer players – many of them who play in the English Premier League (EPL).
Recently helping a Crystal Palace player succeed on the field, Abrahams has held contracts with QPR, Fulham, and West Ham United among other clubs and works quietly, behind the scenes with many EPL coaches from top clubs across the Atlantic.
Youth Soccer News: Think of the best professional soccer players you know — the ones you really are excited to see when they step on the field — these are the players who fill you with anticipation. How do you think these players go about their day-to-day soccer training and week-to-week soccer matches?
What do you think the attitude of the best players in the world is like?
Over the past 15 years, I’ve sat in changing rooms watching some pretty good soccer players prepare to compete.
I’ve watched them intently. I’ve seen different personalities, different characters get themselves ready to battle on the pitch. I’ve watched, observed and studied with intensity, with scrutiny.
What is the difference that makes the difference?
I’ve had the honor of speaking with some of the leading soccer coaches in the world about how the very best players on the best teams prepare to play.
And, while they speak of players having different personalities, different wants, hopes, doubts, and fears … there is a common trait that comes through time and again.
This common trait has nothing to do with technique.
Great footballers have a range of technical ability. Some are great strikers of a football, others aren’t as naturally skilled with their foot-eye coordination.
It has nothing to do with physicality.
What is the common trait the best players share? What binds them together?
I see one thing that is the same in all the best soccer players I’ve watched get ready to battle. Just one thing … and it is shared by all the world’s best soccer players, regardless of their shapes and sizes.
The commonality that lies at the heart of the world’s greatest players is a mental trait and not a physical one.
It’s this: The very best soccer players are abnormal.
They aren’t normal. They aren’t like everyone else. They are abnormal. And they are abnormal in two ways.
They have an abnormal desire to win, and they have an abnormal desire to be the very best they can be.
Last season I had the pleasure of working with ex-England manager Steve McClaren. Back in the late 1990’s McClaren was assistant to Sir Alex Ferguson, arguably the greatest manager of all time. Steve told me quite a few stories about working with players such as Roy Keane, David Beckham and Paul Scholes on a team that won the UEFA Champions League. He told me how ruthless they were.
Every training session they would practice their game with extraordinary intensity. The approach was simple.
Accept nothing less than 100%.
Players who want to become successful run further, tackle harder, take more calculated risks. Players who want to become successful professionals demand more from themselves and from others.
It is the urge to improve and the desire to win that was sometimes uncontrollable — this is a shared trait among top professional soccer players.
Not everyone can be like that – and not everyone wants to be like that.
But if you’re interested in being more competitive and you want to be the very best you can be, here are a few tips to help you.
Be a X10 Player
You have to train, you have to play, you have to think like there’s no limit to your ability.
I’m going to say that again to you because I want you to read it over and over. You have to train, you have to play, you have to think like there’s no limit to your ability.
That’s what the very best soccer players in the world think. That’s how they train and play. They are what I call X10 players.
X10 players are footballers who constantly think about what being ten times better than they are now looks like.
That might mean being ten times quicker, ten times faster or ten times stronger.
It might mean anticipating ten times quicker or seeing ten times as much. What does this look like to you? What does this feel like?
You see the brain can’t tell the difference between what’s imagined and what’s reality.
By feeding your brain and body a collection of images that represent a footballing you that is 10X better, you are creating your perfect soccer blueprint.
What does 10X better look like? What does it feel like? What will others see if you play 10X faster, stronger, more skillful ….
Put Mindset First
The best players in the world want to win so badly. I’ve seen them in the changing room getting themselves prepared…that look of determination, hunger, and desire.
The best players know that if they want to give themselves the very best chance to win, they have to be mentally prepared to win.
They put focus, confidence, and self-management first. They put emotional control, self-talk and body language first.
This is because they know that to give themselves the very best opportunity to be man or woman of the match — and to give themselves the best chance of being on the winning side, they have to get their “gamer” mentally spot on. They intuitively know that their performance takes care of itself.
They demand 95 minutes of outstanding focus from themselves. They are determined to put in a confident performance and to remain full of belief no matter what happens. And they dedicate themselves to staying in control throughout the game …
even through mistakes, through opponents scoring and through their teammates playing poorly.
They stay in control no matter what. They demonstrate an outstanding mindset for the whole match…and this is why they win so much.
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