Sport Psychology or Mental Training Techniques
The importance of sport psychology in football or soccer is becoming increasingly well recognised with many professional clubs employing psychologists. Sport psychology is sometimes called mental preparation or training, mind games, or mind over matter. The aim is for the team to play football at peak performance in every match.
Mental training or sport psychology is no substitute for skills, and it is vital to emphasise the importance of skills, particularly when coaching youth football. Since the main aim of psychological training is to attain peak performance, it will not help much if your peak performance is poor!
The first step is to decide what you want to achieve. Do you have a dream that you wish to make a reality? It’s important to discover what motivates you, and to write down a mission statement or creed to provide motivation.
Goals should be set for the long term, short term, and daily. A simple example of a goal is to obtain a regular place in the school team, or the town or county team. A daily goal might be to run an extra quarter mile, or to learn a new skill. A short term goal might be to run an extra five miles, score a certain number of goals, or master a set of new skills. It is important to set realistic goals. Becoming a professional footballer is a wish of many young footballers, but few are successful. It is better to set challenging, but achievable short-term goals.
After setting goals and finding out what motivates you, there are several perfomance-enhancing techniques to help achieve those goals:
- Relaxation and breathing
- Confidence building through positive self talk and team building
These performance-enhancing techniques are described in the next section. Our football coaching software also has a section on sport psychology.