Five Confidence Boosters to 10X Soccer Performance
Dec 28, 2021
You’ve probably heard the following quote used to describe many sports - it’s 90% mental, 10% physical. Soccer is no different. You might not agree with the 90/10 ratio, but what goes on mentally matters more than what takes place physically. With that said, having a lack of confidence and poise in soccer can significantly reduce your performance. This post will take a look at confidence boosters that young players can employ to help them up their game to new levels.
Pre-game rituals aren’t as silly as they sound - many of the biggest soccer players on the planet have them. Mesut Ozil always puts his right boot on first, Neymar speaks to his dad before every game and Gareth Bale stopped driving his Lamborghini Aventador Roadster to games. Some of them are functional while others are purely superstitious, but they all serve the same purpose - to help relax and focus the mind.
Finding the right pre-game ritual can help boost your confidence and focus. Your ritual may involve meditating or talking to yourself in the mirror, or it could be putting on your left or right shoe first. Whatever it is, you don’t have to overthink it as long as it helps you feel game-ready.
Meditation & Mantras
Even if meditation doesn’t become your go-to pre-game ritual, you should still try it sometimes. Research shows that meditation reduces stress (which increases concentration), speeds up recovery time, enhances endurance, and improves one’s sense of self. It’s the ultimate mind hack.
Soccer superstars including Erling Haaland and Carli Lloyd meditate to improve their performance and mental stamina. Of course, meditation styles - and the many mantras used in meditation - differ, so you’ll have to choose one that resonates with you. But once you find a form of meditation you think you’ll like, stick with it for a while. You might feel like a brand new player or better yet, a brand new version of yourself.
Wear Soccer Protective Gear
Fear of injury affects every soccer player, regardless of their age, background or experience. And it’s a reasonable fear to have. After all, who wants to be sidelined for days or weeks, or perhaps, face a season-ending injury. However, an overwhelming fear of injury kills confidence and hinders performance.
One of the best psychological hacks for this fear, which happens to be a physical one, is to wear the right soccer protective gear from head to toe. Protective gear can reduce the impact of collisions, falls, impacts, and all sorts of trauma, so they can prevent injury altogether. But knowing your gear is there to protect you can help take the worry of injury away, allowing you to focus on your game.
With that said, we want to emphasize some pieces of soccer gear for you to choose from. Consider wearing soccer concussion headgear since it may reduce head impacts, and thus offer some protection against concussions. You should also invest in impact protection gear for the body such as chest protection and padded jerseys for body impacts and turf burn resistant leggings.
Here’s a confidence booster that’s somewhat of a mind-bender - mental rehearsal. Mental rehearsal, aka mental imagery or creative visualization, is the practice of rehearsing a desired outcome in the mind, with the hopes of it happening in real life. In the context of soccer, this could be imagining yourself scoring the perfect goal or making a difficult save. It may seem like something out of science fiction, but science says it fact.
Researchers have found that athletes in various sports can improve their skill sets simply by visualizing themselves doing it. A famous study on basketball players revealed that players who imagined themselves making great free throws improved their accuracy by 23% - that’s without touching the ball! Research is still underway for visualization’s efficacy in footy, but we can assume that soccer players can achieve similar results.
So if you want to improve a skill or just feel more confident before a game, imagine yourself playing effortlessly or executing that skill flawlessly. You might start to notice real-world results just by thinking!
Ultimately, when you’re proficient at certain skills, you’ll feel more confident performing them. The nervousness and apprehension you feel as a beginner starts to fade as you reach more intermediate and advanced levels of skill. So it just makes sense to keep on practicing your skills - you’ll feel more at ease over time.
That means practicing your technical and tactical skills through various drills and routines. Also, consider cross-training with other forms of soccer such as futsal, because the increased contact with the ball will quicken the speed at which you master certain technical skills. Also, watching game film can help you learn how your favourite players make decisions, which can help you with your own in-game decisions.
Lastly, make conditioning a priority as well. The fitter you are - in terms of strength, speed, endurance - the better you’ll perform in all areas of the game. It’s an undeniable fact. So stay in shape with a balance of strength training, cardio exercises, good nutrition, and recovery protocols.
Boost Your Confidence, Boost Your Game
Soccer is a highly technical sport, but make no mistake - it’s very much a mind game as well. It’s a mind game not only from a tactical perspective but also, a game that requires a strong belief in your sports performance abilities.
Confidence is a key ingredient for success in professional soccer. When you train your mind to believe in yourself, the body will follow. In an upcoming post, we’ll give you a set list of actionable exercises and habits you can use to increase your confidence.