Soccer is a sport enjoyed around the world, and for a good reason: all you need to get into the game are two goals, a ball, and a friend or two. However, as fun as it is to kick a soccer ball around with your buddies, it can be tough not to put pressure on yourself during tryouts, games, and tournaments. If you lack confidence on the soccer field, you’re holding yourself back from being the best soccer player that you can be. Expanding your confidence on the soccer field will help you become a winner both in the game and in life, and these tips will be sure to give you the extra confidence you need to make every part of soccer fun — even with eyes on you.
Practice Positive Self-Talk
Have you ever noticed the voice inside your head taunting you after you miss a shot or make a bad pass? Being hard on yourself with statements like “I’m never going to make that shot,” “We always lose,” or “I stink at soccer” are a result of negative self-talk. The first step you should take when seeking to gain confidence on the soccer field is to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk. “I can do this,” “Good pass,” and “We can win” are all examples of mantras to repeat to yourself. If you have difficulty being positive, replace negative self-talk with instructional self-talk instead and become your own mental “coach.”
Soccer is a great game, but it’s just that — a game. No matter how high you feel the stakes are, remind yourself that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Many players who suffer from a lack of confidence on the soccer field hide from the ball or cringe whenever they think they’re about to receive a pass. Hiding from the ball doesn’t help your team win — and it also means you can’t develop your passing, shooting, and dribbling skills as much as you need to in order to succeed. A major key to confidence is eliminating fear. Stop stepping away, holding back, or hiding from the ball, and immerse yourself fully in the game. You have nothing to lose!
The Wildcats from High School Musical said it best — get your head in the game! Focus only on the game, and tune out distracting stimuli. If you find your mind wandering to the size of the crowd, the shot you couldn’t stop in time, or worries unrelated to the game, bring your mind back to the moment you’re in.
Set Reasonable Expectations
A lot of poor confidence on the soccer field comes from people setting unrealistic expectations for themselves. No one is perfect, even the world’s best soccer players. Being a perfectionist will do you no favors. If you’re still working up the nerve to ask for the ball, don’t set the goal of becoming your team’s leading scorer by next Tuesday. Instead, focus on your strengths and improve what you feel is realistic. Set smaller goals you think you can actually achieve during games and practices. Succeeding at these goals will boost your self-confidence and keep you feeling good about your performance.
When you’re feeling angry or upset, remind yourself that soccer is a game you enjoy and want to have fun playing. Having a negative attitude about your own performance or your team’s performance can lead to a self-fulfilling cycle of failure. If you don’t feel competent, you won’t act competent, and you will end up feeling worse and worse as you continue to underestimate yourself and your teammates. Keep a positive attitude even when faced with the most formidable opponents. This way, you can confuse them with your unfailing winning attitude or even surprise them by snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.
Learn From Mistakes
If you view every mistake as a learning experience, you can easily boost your confidence on the soccer field. It’s tempting to dwell on the could-haves, would-haves, and should-haves during or after a losing game or a particularly embarrassing mistake. Instead of focusing on what you did wrong, use setbacks to resolve yourself to improve next time. Discuss the next game’s strategy with your teammates and ask for their opinions and suggestions, and offer the same to them.
Visualize Your Next Move
Sometimes, the best way to tackle anxiety is with a plan, and you can put this strategy to good use to improve your confidence on the soccer field. Before you kick the ball, visualize where it’s going. Who’s around you? What are you planning to do next? Plot your next move and continuously stay on your toes. If you end up using this technique frequently, your mind might even stay too busy to be nervous!
Bond With Your Teammates
Without good team spirit, it’s hard to feel confident in your teammates’ abilities or your own. Spend time talking and listening to your teammates both on and off the field. It can be useful to talk strategy, but the conversations don’t have to be about soccer, either. All you have to do is get to know them, and friendships made will help you feel less judged and more competent on the field. Plus, bonding with your team also makes games more fun!
Develop Pre-Game Routines
If you’ve ever been on a sports team, you’ve likely met someone who swore by their lucky socks, always drank an orange sports drink at halftime, or imbued themselves with imagined fortune in some other way. Rituals aren’t just common among sports players because humans enjoy routines — they are also proven to make us more comfortable. Establishing a pre-game or pre-practice ritual can help you feel less nervous and ground you when you feel less confident. (The placebo effect of “lucky” items doesn’t hurt either.)
Fake It ‘til You Make It
When all else fails, the best piece of advice for developing confidence on the soccer field is the same advice for developing confidence in the boardroom, at parties, and during public speaking: fake it ‘til you make it. Watch World Cup matches and other taped soccer games to see confidence in action. Pick out a style you like and imitate that player’s body language, movements, or even play strategy. The next time you’re on the field, pick out the most confident, self-assured players you can find and watch them closely to learn what they do. Sometimes, imitation can lead to surprising levels of confidence or at least inspire you to get out of your shell and try something new.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Athletes are told nonstop that practice makes perfect. Although improving your game during practice is a big part of building confidence on the soccer field, this tip isn’t about practicing dribbling, shooting, or defending the goal. It’s about practicing the skills you’ve learned so far. Confidence won’t suddenly be a trait you wake up and have one day; it’s something you need to develop over time with repeated practice and patience. Using these tips regularly is the best long-term way to grow your confidence on the soccer field.
Level Up Your Game
When you use these methods to stay at the top of your confidence game, your soccer game will improve more than you can imagine! Looking for more resources to become a better soccer player? Read up on the importance of strength training for soccer players or discover our team training options. Want to find a place to play? Our Warminster soccer club might be just what you’re looking for. We’re always looking for motivated, energetic players, so get in touch with us today and train to win!