By: Wade Gilbert
Originally Published in: Coaching Better Every Season
Provided by: Human Kinetics
Begin to remember the best soccer match you ever played...where it was, who was playing with you, all the sights and sounds of it...the excitement, the power, the achievement of your peak performance...allowing yourself to feel all the feelings from that time...of pride, confidence, achievement, excitement, fun...see the match...hearing all the sounds of your teammates yelling and supporting each other...the crowd and its cheering and clapping...remember it all and begin to think of a word that represents that state of mind and that state of being...to represent all those feelings of confidence, pride, excitement, achievement...saying the word over to yourself...knowing your word will bring that time back to you whenever you wish...that time of peak performance and achievement.
Now begin to think of your next match...your goals and what you want to accomplish...how you want to play...what you want to do...knowing about the other team...imagining what your strategy will be...and what you want to accomplish personally.
Imagine yourself at the soccer field where your next match will be held...see yourself and your teammates warming up...running, making your moves...practicing your shots...getting ready for your match...feeling the familiar feeling in your stomach...excitement, anticipation...really enjoying the whole process and remembering your word that connects
Imagine yourself being as aggressive as you want to be...getting the ball, looking for a pass...breathing deeply, running powerfully, looking, committing yourself to your move...being completely relaxed and poised...in total control...being fast and aggressive...confident...powerful.
"I'm strong. I'm fast. I have good concentration and focus. I stay with the player I'm guarding. When the time is right, I go for it! I'm mentally tough." Knowing that you are intimidating, aggressive, powerful...making good shots...having great endurance and speed...using your body well—shielding...heading...good at getting it, jumping up and heading, having a good shot...concentrating really well and focusing on hitting it directly...hearing how it sounds when you hit the sweet spot of the ball...following through...solidly kicked and feeling good...seeing your fakes, your moves, your one-on-ones...all well done...with good intensity and focus, anticipating what is coming your way and being ready for it.
Imagine yourself collecting a pass...turning the ball away from a defender...making good contact with the ball...feeling in control and powerful...then passing to a teammate...seeing who to pass to...seeing where the space is, staying in close proximity after passing it off.
Know that you have everything you need to play well and at your best...you and your teammates play well as a team...supporting each other...yelling to each other...playing together as a well-oiled machine, enjoying the team play...getting better and better with each game...and when you are getting tired...reminding yourself that you are strong, powerful, and
Slowly allow the images to fade...remembering your word...your word of power and strength...become aware of your body sitting in the chair or lying on the couch...on a count of three, you can open your eyes...feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready for the rest of the day or evening...one...move your hands and feet, taking a deep breath...letting it out with a sigh, two...stretch your neck and shoulders...and three, open your eyes when you're ready.
Reprinted, by permission. from K. Porter. 2003, The mental athlete (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics). 95-97.