“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”-Pele
By Omar Figueroa
As the Word Cup officially is about to close group stage, I wanted to share what a soccer player is doing or could be doing as they prepare for upcoming World Cup matches:
- 100% Mentally and Physically Fit
Majority of soccer players at the World Cup will seek to maintain an optimal holistic fitness throughout the tournament to achieve peak game performance. Soccer players will work on implementing mental and physical pre-match routines, which research has shown to reduce somatic anxiety (Hazell, Cotterill, & Hill, 2014). An example of somatic anxiety is the feeling of butterflies in the stomach.
- Practice Visualization
The days at the World Cup will be filled with technical meetings, press, treatment, team practice, etc. To assure the soccer players are prepared for their match, taking a couple of minutes daily practicing visualization of what they are going to see, feeling, and do at the upcoming match will help with a smoother performance.
As the soccer players wait at their hotel, they can seek to occupy their minds with Netflix movies, video games, and meetings. The practice of deep breathing exercises is a form of meditation to clear the mind and is a great way to reduce cognitive and somatic anxiety.
- Understand the Requirement of Role
Every single player on and off the soccer field has a specific role to perform and execute during the match. Coaching staff has a meticulous plan for the match, which should provide the soccer players with how to successfully execute their roles. Once the requirement of role is communicated by the coaching staff, it will be the soccer players responsibility to understand and study their specific role.
- Conduct Video Analysis
Seeing the opponent’s playing style and technical techniques will provide the soccer players with visualization of what they will see in the upcoming match. Video analysis could be conducted with coaching staff and a Mental Conditioning coach to identify specific details presented by the video analysis to aid the soccer players preparation.
- Individual Session with Coaching Staff and Mental Conditioning Coach
Along with meeting with the coaching staff to understand detailed role requirements for successful performance; the soccer player meeting with the Mental Conditioning coach could be a great approach to conducted guided imagery, concentration activity etc.
- Practice Effective Routines
Soccer players all have a pre-match routine and it will be key for the soccer players to be fully aware on how the routines could be implemented into the high demand of playing in a World Cup. A Mental Conditioning coach will be able to provide guidance on how to best execute pre-match routine.
Hazell, J., Cotterill, S. T., & Hill, D. M. (2014). An exploration of pre-performance routines, self-efficacy, anxiety and performance in semi-professional soccer. European Journal Of Sport Science, 14(6), 603-610.
About the Author
Omar Figueroa is committed to helping people, from students to professional athletes of all ages and backgrounds in the areas of athletic counseling, mental performance, and higher education. For more information on Omar Figueroa, please visit www.futbol-marketing.com.