Soccer Mental Exercise 1 – Mindfulness
It is a bit of a buzz term at the moment, but experts in mindfulness will tell us that it has actually been around for many centuries. Mindfulness is about being in the ‘now’, not worrying about the past (and don’t failings hold more of our memory space than successes?) or fretting about the future.
Again, we need to drill our bodies to achieve this.
- Sit or stand in a quiet space and concentrate on our body a piece at a time. Focus on how each part feels.
- Take in the room, noticing each part in detail (in a busy room, we might concentrate on a different part each day.)
- Feel ourselves breath. Take long, slow breaths to help with relaxation.
These should be daily activities. They take only a moment to do. Over time, our ability to focus will improve. It does not need to be stated how useful that is on the pitch!
Soccer Mental Exercise 2 – The Perfect Life
We all have our dreams. I’m going to buy that Jaguar when I have earned enough money. I am going to feel great after I get my promotion.
Research shows that if we behave as though we are already at our dreams, we are both more likely to achieve them and to feel better about ourselves as we move towards this ideal state.
We can see this mental toughness drill often used in professional sport, as the role of the psychologist plays an ever increasing role. Penalty takers are told to visualise the ball in the back of the net. Goalkeepers to picture the dive that produces the wonderful save. Of course, it does not always work out. Free kicks still end in the top tier of the stand behind the goal, but this act of visualisation enables us to succeed in our goals more often. Success in achieving our goals often means scoring our goals!
In a practical sense, we can take one dream a day – they do not have to be big – imagine we have achieved it, sense how we will feel, and act in that way. Over time, our positivity will grow, and thereby so will our mental toughness.
Soccer Mental Exercise 3 – Re-Evaluating Ourselves
Some of us cannot do math. Others cannot perform even the most basic of DIY job. Actually, we can. We might not be Pythagoras, but unless we have a specific condition that stops us, we will be using mathematical principles constantly and successfully. How much change we will get in the shop? The angle to move the car into the parking space. Useless with our hands? What about the gardening we do? What about fixing our kid’s broken sword? Changing a light bulb.
Our pre-conceptions about ourselves tend to be black and white. The truth is often an hombre of shades. Our aim is to look at a preconception per day, evaluate it and make it more truthful.
It will not take long before our perception of ourselves is more positive.