Mental strength is a force which can transform an ordinary football player into a tough and match winning player within a short span of time. But your coach should know how exactly to install the toughness in your mind. You may practice very hard during your training, but still, be unable to get that kind of toughness needed to beat the opponents. As a high school football coach, I have seen many of the boys with exceptional talent fail, just because they became too weak at critical moments. It was something beyond my understanding. Then I consulted a sports psychologist in Texas, who gave me the much-needed insights. Then he teamed with me to train the high school students for the next three months.
Our boys started improving faster than ever before. They were able to handle tough passes, tackle the hardest opponents, and score the most impossible goals with a determination I had never seen before. Of course, the psychologist has continued to perform miracles for my team since then.
In the beginning, the sessions with the psychologist were only limited to the classrooms. The boys could learn the finest art of discipline, order, and cool mindedness theoretically. They still remained tensed and nervous during critical moments on the field. Then he started playing football with my boys during the training sessions.
It was our combined efforts which ultimately produced positive results practically on the field. The sessions were more productive when we started individual and group sessions. Every player was able to open up his mind and speak about the fear factors he faced on the field. We often worked for weeks with individual players to understand what exactly they wanted to be when they entered the field.
Role-based therapy from the goalkeeper, to the full and center backs, sweeper, central midfield and the player behind the striker was highly effective. The psychologist seemed to have mastered our team football players’ strengths and weaknesses within a short time.
As I observed, he never criticized or appreciated any player in the beginning. He kept his calm whenever the players committed mistakes. But he often wrote notes and spoke to them in individual counseling sessions. He also instructed me how to handle players in tough situations.
Flow of Rhythm
The most critical therapy was about maintaining the flow of rhythm while running with the ball. The training resulted in complete focus on the ball. Our boys were trained to never look at the opponent’s face or body language. The focus had to be only on the ball and the opponent’s body from the feet to the knees. The technique worked well as the boys never got intimidated by the opponent’s physique. So, they learned the art of tackling the toughest opponents.
The art of tackling the ball away from the opponents and keeping away from direct physical contacts have reduced the probability of injury to the boys considerably. I will be sharing many other aspects of sports psychology in my next blog articles.