How you think about your football on a day-to-day basis determines how you feel about your football overall, and how you feel about your football heavily influences how quickly you learn in training and how well you perform on match day.
I spend many hours every week teaching Premiership footballers how to think effectively after training and before match day. Here is one technique you can use:
I want you to write down your three best ever games. Write them down in detail just as we’ve discussed before. This will give you something to come back to every day that will help you build and maintain a strong soccer image. It will help you take control of the memories you have of your football.
When writing down your three best games – remember key moments. Key moments such as the runs you made, the tackles, blocks, passes and headers you won. Add feelings to your story – “I felt strong, confident and powerful” and “I felt like I was unbeatable”.
These are exciting images to remember and to reinforce. If your friends or loved ones were watching you – what do you think they would have seen? Write their viewpoint down as well.
When you spend time off the pitch reminding yourself of the times you perform at your very best you feed your brain and body confident pictures and images. The footballer who commits to this technique on a daily basis will build self-belief and feel great going into his training session and matches – giving himself an improved chance to learn
2. Practice with a purpose
Having an abundance of ability in football is nice to have, but however talented you are it is the quality of your training that determines the trajectory of your football. In fact, so important is this that I advise clients to stop using the word training and start calling it practice. And ‘any old practice’ isn’t enough – it is deliberate practice that is important.
Deliberate practice isn’t easy and it begins in the brain. It’s not a soccer player doing an hour of training, doing a bit of five-a-side, and having fun with mates. It’s mentally and physically taxing. It is a kind of focused, repetitive practice in which you are always monitoring your performance, correcting, experimenting, listening to immediate and constant feedback, and always pushing beyond what you have already achieved.
When you next go and practice – make sure you set yourself a goal, preferably a specific area you’d like to improve. Concentrate fully and push yourself out of your comfort zone by attempting the things you don’t find easy on the pitch.