Thursday, August 30, 2012

U17 - the importance of mental toughness

The most important part of the game for a player to manage is the 6" space between their ears.

Last night we had an implosion so severe I think the moon moved 10m closer to the Earth.

Our U17 boys had an interesting game.  By some crazy soccer we went down 3-0 by half-time.  Some joking and talking at half-time we agreed that it would be very cool when we come back to win 4-3.  What else could we do?  We had to let them vent for a few minutes and collect themselves.  The boys knew they were off their games and it was either going to get worse or better.  Simple.

This was a rare 7pm game and arrivals to the field were close to game time.  We used the first 15 minutes of the game as our warm-up :)

Our positioning was OK, we were just a half-second late to every ball.

Anyway, we started the second half with a goal that was called back 5 minutes in.  The boys started bickering a bit and the other team was being chirpy, getting under the skin of our boys.  We then scored 2 goals in 15 minutes and it looked like we were going to have an interesting finish.

A few questionable calls later and some well timed comments from their opponents sent our boys over the edge.  Our boys were so pre-occupied with the officials and the other team that they forgot to finish the job at hand.  Poor decisions on the ball, sloppy/lazy defending, desperation runs, excellent/excessive cheering from the other team's families and smart play by our opponents led to our downfall. 

We ended up losing 3-2.  The good news is that when the game was over our guys had the look on their faces that they knew what had happened ... they were hooked, played with, then reeled in.

I feel that no lesson would have been learned had they come back and won.  These boys will be fixing my brakes, filling my cavities and handling my finances some day.  They need lessons with respect to staying focused.

Staying focused not only keeps you on task and playing your game ... if you're opponent is trying to distract you, you might actually knock them off their game in frustration.

There are several key factors involved in helping you overcome distractions: 
  • mastery of fundamentals of your sport
  • deep knowledge of your job on the field
  • experience
  • confidence in yourself and trust in your teammates
  • high fitness level
  • using training to rehearse and learn from mistakes of previous games
  • controlled breathing
We need to build an appreciation for the focused athlete and stop glamourizing the outbursts and tantrums that we see on "Top 10" lists on sports newscast.

This is something that will have to be addressed next session as we have 2 games left and a first place finish still possible.

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