Playing sport is not just about the physical aspects. Want to know how to improve your mental focus for a full 90-minute game of football? Here are some handy tips:
Knowing the signs of fatigue
If you notice that your shots are off and your passes are getting a little wayward, then it’s probably time for a break. While you might still feel physically on form, your football brain is getting tired.
Scientific sports studies have found that technique suffered from mental fatigue just as much as it did from physical fatigue. The passing and shooting accuracy decreased, along with reaction times and forward planning because players’ brains were tired. Trying some new drills in training can also help to keep things fresh. For Soccer Training drills, check out some new Soccer Training videos.
Don’t overdo it before kick-off
When tasks become drawn out or need high levels of concentration, this can add to mental fatigue. This means keeping any team talks or tactical sessions as brief as possible or avoided altogether immediately before kick-off. There is such a thing as ‘analysis paralysis’. Pre-match team chats should be simple, brief and energising.
To mentally prepare for a big game, you might think you should stay in, have a quiet time and give yourself a chance to focus. However, a little escapism keeps you fresher. Seeing friends and family and taking a break from training can have a beneficial effect. Think about the World Cup players who were provided with an escape space to see their family and spend some ‘down’ time away from the pressures of the competition. Psychology, this was seen as very important.
Have a pick-me-up at half-time
Feeling the fatigue at half-time? Stick the kettle on and make some tea or coffee. Caffeine is well-known for lowering the impact of fatigue on the brain and increasing both mental and physical performance. If you don’t fancy a hot drink at half-time, you can consume caffeine through sports gels, chewing gum or capsules.
Speak to each other
As a nation, we are not particularly good at talking about how we are feeling, especially on the pitch. However, it’s very important that you and your teammates ask each other how you’re feeling. Coaches should also be using the self-reporting scales to check on the levels of fatigue that their players are experiencing. Methods such as brain training can help to improve performance and reduce fatigue, as well as allowing players to rest and sit out of low importance games. You might even be tempted to try a little meditation, which is said to work wonders for clearing and invigorating the mind.