Sports Psychology for Football

Sports Psychology for Football Players and Coaches

To Be or Not To Be – Mentally Tough

“Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.” ― Peyton Manning

payton-manning-mental-perfoIt is probably one of the more common explanations offered by fans, sportswriters and commentators alike when trying to comprehend an athletes’ decline in athletic performance — ‘stress.’

Everyone knows that stress can have a negative impact on performance. But what exactly does this mean? In other words, how exactly can stress affect athletic performance?

According to sports psychologist for football, there are two types of attention: external and internal. External attention refers to focusing on things outside of your bodies, whereas internal attention refers to focusing on internal psychological and physiological experiences.

It is possible for both forms of attention to be active while trying to complete a task?

External attention is important for things like visual perception, as it is difficult to accurately perceive something if your brain is not paying sufficient attention to it.

Accurate perception and the ability to focus one’s attention are obviously key to the football mental game. Once stress starts to interfere with attention, which subsequently affects perception, the results can be terrible for performance.

If you act more in accordance with your emotions, knowing and understanding what you are feeling will help you be effective in making wise choices. Being able to control your thoughts and identify the reasons for your feelings will be important. Your thoughts and emotions are intertwined.

Confusing anxiety and excitement could mean missing out on important events.

When you believe that you are the way you are emotionally, have little control of your emotions, and there is nothing you can do to gain control of them. If your emotions hurt you and you have accepted the situation because you feel you can’t do anything about it. Sports psychologists for football call these athletes emotional victims, where your emotions control you, you possess unhealthy and unproductive emotional habits, and your emotions hinder your ability to perform well and achieve your goals.

Emotions are a simple, but not easy, choice. They are a simple because if you have the option to feel badly and perform poorly or feel good and perform well, you will certainly choose the latter option. However, emotions are not an easy choice because your hard-wired temperament, past emotional baggage, and old emotional habits can lead you down the bad emotional road can cause you to respond emotionally in ways that are unhealthy and result in poor performance.

The choice comes with awareness of when old emotional habits will arise and choosing a positive emotional response that will lead to good feelings and successful performance.

The process of emotional mastery begins with recognizing the negative emotional reactions that hurt your performances.

When you start to feel negative emotions during a competition, be aware of what they are, for instance, frustration, anger, or despair. Then identify what situation is causing them.

To continue the process of emotional mastery in practice and competition, specify alternative emotional reactions to the situations that commonly trigger negative emotions.

For example, instead of yelling, “I am terrible,” you could say, “Come on, better next time.” Or, instead of screaming at the referee after a disputed call, you could turn your back and take a deep breath then get ready for the next play.

These positive emotional responses will help you let go of the past mistakes, motivate you to perform better next time, generate positive emotions that will give you more football confidence, and allow you to focus on what will help you raise the level of your performance.

Recalling football mental skills like emotional mastery are skills, this positive reaction will not be easy at first because your negative emotional habits are well ingrained; realize how difficult it is to change a bad technical habit! But, with commitment, awareness, control, and practice, and the realization that you feel better and your performance improves with a positive response, you will, in time, retrain your emotions into positive emotional habits.

The result will be a transition from being an emotional victim to becoming an emotional master who now has the tools to not only perform much better, but also have a mentally tough athlete with a strong mental game!

*Download the free mental game assessment and get started on Improving your Mental Game in Football

Updated: March 12, 2017 — 2:09 pm

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