“A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are.” Bill Shankly
Elite athletes stand head and shoulders above the rest and that’s not just because of their impressive size and stature. Physique and fitness aside, there’s more to gaining a competitive edge than meets the eye.
While it’s true that good genetics and plenty of practice are a big part of the equation, separating a contender from the pretenders might have more to do with minds than brawn.
Research on sports psychology for football suggests that getting ahead starts inside of your mind.
Can honing the athletic mind be the key to unlocking elite-level performance?
Before you can alter or enhance the way your mind processes information in a competitive football game, you have to determine what exactly is going on up there. There’s a complex relationship between thought and action, your mind and your body’s mechanics. The significance of that relationship increases right along with the level of competition you undertake.
Most athletes aren’t aware of how much the mind is truly capable of and how much more powerful it can become through deliberate training.
By mastering the mind, you can achieve what may have previously seemed nearly impossible in football.
When you train you mind, you are engaging the newest part of your brain, the frontal cortex.
This part is responsible for higher order functions like problem solving and managing your thoughts and actions in accordance with your goals. You become better able to manage stress and pressure situations.
It takes confidence to be at your best when the pressure is on, but most athletes have a limiting view of confidence. Most athletes think confidence is a feeling. When they feel confident, they can act confidently.
Training your mind helps you understand and recognize that confidence is really an action. You can act confidently no matter how we feel. Therefore, you need to build football confidence around your process, around things that you can control. That way you can take confident action no matter what is going on around you.
Your mentality will either hold you down or bring you up.
Strive to master your mind rather than being mastered by it. If you don’t, you risk losing every game before it even starts.
Think about how you can improve your football mental skills in the following areas:
How you prepare mentally in practice and during training.
How you maintain a winning mindset on the day of competition.
How you manage your thoughts in the moment of action.
How you deal with distractions.
To excel in each of these areas, you’ll need to set goals. Take the time to learn from every poor performance rather than brooding or trying to forget it.
After a peak performance, write down specifically what you were thinking, feeling, and doing immediately before, during, and after the game. The next time you need a boost in confidence or motivation, refer back to the list.
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