goalWA.net is happy to continue our focus on topics of interest to players, coaches, parents and fans. We’ve featured stories on the physical aspects of Soccer Health. Now we are going to look past those brave diving headers and concentrate on the noggins of athletes. What makes a winner? How is what you think actually what you DO? Mike Margolies continues to write about The Mental Game for goalWA.net. We encourage you to watch for more from Mike, and to share with anyone who you think will find his ideas of interest.
Read other “The Mental Game” entries here.
by Mike Margolies
My biggest wish is that we all understand the importance of mental training in everything we do. Yogi Berra, regardless of what he meant or how badly he is misquoted, was certainly right. Ninety percent of sport is mental and the other half is physical.
The more important aspect of this Berra-ism is not simply our understanding that the mental side of performance is important, but that just like everything else we do in life to get better at something we must practice those skills. If we want to be a better writer, then we better write. Want to be a better musician, then you better practice if you want to get to Carnegie Hall.
It’s that practical. If you are going to achieve anything, use your mind. There are plenty of techniques you can learn to help you succeed, but just as most athletes spend ninety percent of their efforts purely on physical training (and most do), we need to change our perspective. The trouble is that many successful athletes did learn to train using their minds at an early age. They put little thought into the mental game because it is a natural part of sports for them. They can achieve excellence with the ease of angels. Maybe it was an early coach or teacher. Maybe it was their parents and family or friends, but they picked up things along the way, that made succeeding easier. So when you hear an athlete or coach scoff at mental training and they point to their own success through dedicated practicing, understand that perhaps, they were fortunate to grow up in an environment where this happened for them without conscious effort.
I’ve worked with many of these great athletes over the last thirty years. Some of them I met because they were looking for an edge. Some were wondering how to solve a specific issue that cropped up later in their career. These athletes said that they never put a single thought into the mental side of things until recently. Working with them they would often say that they did what I was suggesting (using different language or their terms of course). We would eventually narrow our focus to the area they wanted to improve and it would usually be just a small correction in something they were already doing. Easy fix when you knew where to look.
So here is a tool to see how you are doing. You can play better soccer. You can move to the next level. I know this to be true. But are you willing to do the work? Click to ENLARGE.
So what does your score mean?
16-32: There is a lot you could do to improve your mental toughness. Working with a Mental Trainer® is recommended.
33-49: You’re doing ok in some areas but there’s room for improvement. Get info about MentalApp® so you can do mental training on your smartphone.
50-64: You appear to be doing a great job with your mental training. Keep up the strong work!
These are, as I said, just some of the areas you can focus on with mental training. There are lots of tools as well. If you really want to take your game to the next level, then start working today on your game. That is the mental game; The Game within the Game.
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