What do, top-level athletes, all have in common? They have mastered the skill of mental toughness and have a strong football mind. An often-asked question is how does mental toughness relate to football?
Firstly, it is important to know that mental toughness is a learned skill, that it is a necessity for all athletes to master and needs to be trained as frequently and seriously as you would train your body physically. This skill allows athletes to remain calm under pressure, not be affected by an opponent’s size, reputation or team, to be able to stay focused in chaos, make the right choices during strenuous situations, persevere through adversity and continue playing despite being in pain.
In the mental game of football, mental toughness encompasses resiliency. In order to be resilient you need to have certain skills:
• Be able to channel both positive and negative energies to your benefit.
• Have both self-confidence and self-motivation.
• Be able to have excellent self-control, in several areas including, attitude and emotional control as well as cognitive areas, such as visual and attention control.
The combination of these desirable traits produces a calm, focused, alert athlete that is positive, in control of their actions and is prepared to play their best on and off the court.
Having the best physical skills when playing football is not enough on its own, What truly separates an average or good player, from an elite top-level player, is how well the player’s mental game and football mind is developed.
These are the players that strive to improve their game every day, not just certain skills, or become content with the skills they have. They aim to improve their entire game, each day and excel to make their minds work with them instead of against them.
Many exercises are available that can help athletes develop the skills they need in order to achieve football mental toughness and develop a strong football mind. For a very physically demanding sport that is visually intense and often emotionally charged, athletes need to set aside, time daily as part of their regular training regime, to develop this skill.
Article by Ms. Delice Coffey, MA, LPA, MGCP a Psychologist who specializes in sports and clinical psychology, mental game coaching, and mental health services within the athletic arena.
Visit Sports Psychology Football to download Delice’s free mental game assessment using the highlighted content below:
Improving your Mental Game in Football.