You’re about to play the biggest soccer game of your life. The stadium is packed with fans, and the atmosphere is electric. You take a deep breath and try to calm your nerves. But no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to shake this feeling of anxiety.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous before a big game. In fact, many of the world’s best players have admitted to anxiety before taking to the field but how do you deal with these nerves and perform at your best?
This article discusses “What To Do If You Are Nervous About A Soccer Game” by revealing tried and tested tips to enjoy your next soccer game – nerves or not!
Why Soccer is More Mental Than Physical
Soccer is a game that requires split-second decisions and reactions. Players need to be able to think quickly to execute accurate passes, shots, and tackles. Excellent mental and physical stamina also enables them to be able to run up and down the field for 90 minutes.
But while soccer is certainly a physical sport, it is also a mental one. The ability to control their emotions, stay calm under pressure, and make smart decisions is the hallmark of great players.
Many experts believe that the mental side of soccer is even more important than the physical side because the human brain controls everything we do, from the simplest tasks like blinking and breathing to more complex actions such as running and jumping.
Besides, thoughts and emotions can have a big impact on physical performance. If you’re feeling nervous or anxious, your body will respond accordingly. The heart rate often increases resulting in tense muscles and a surge in breathing rate.
Conversely, confidence stimulates the body to respond in a positive way. The result is genuine relaxation thanks to looser muscles, and the ability to think more clearly.
In other words, the better you are able to control your thoughts and emotions, the better you’ll be able to manage your body and perform on the soccer field.
There is a reason why so many professional soccer players use visualization techniques and other mental strategies to prepare for games. It’s because they know that the better they can control their minds, the better they’ll be able to control their bodies and play their best.
What To Do If You Are Nervous About A Soccer Game – 15
Now that we understand why the mental side of soccer is so important, let’s take a look at some specific strategies that can help players deal with nerves and perform at their maximum capacity.
By using these techniques, players are better able to control their thoughts and emotions, which allows them to play their best soccer.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is important for both physical and mental recovery. It’s during sleep that our bodies repair and grow muscle tissue, and it’s also when our brains consolidate memories and process information.
Players who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be tired and sluggish on the field. They may also have difficulty concentrating and making good decisions. To perform your best, it’s important to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night in the days leading up to a game.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try these tips:
• Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening.
• Create a relaxing bedtime routine including activities like reading or taking a bath.
• Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
•Limit screen time in the hours leading up to bedtime.
2. Eat A Nutritious Breakfast on Game Day
Eating a nutritious breakfast on game day can help you feel calmer and more focused. Start your day with a healthy meal that includes complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, as they can cause an energy crash later in the game.
Eating a nutritious breakfast is a tried and tested hack that will help you feel energized and be able to play your best soccer.
3. Accept That You’re Nervous
It’s normal to feel nervous before games, especially the big ones. Accepting this fact can help you relax and focus on giving maximum performance. Remind yourself that everyone experiences pre-game nerves including even the best players in the world.
Accepting that you’re nervous doesn’t mean that you have to be a slave to the feeling. It simply means that you are acknowledging its existence and choosing not to let it impact your performance on the playing field.
4. Speak to Your Coach
If you’re feeling especially nervous about a game, talk to your coach. They can help you come up with a game plan to relax and play your best. This is often common during important games like trials for a new team or the final of an important tournament.
Your coach might also be able to share some tips for dealing with pre-game nerves. They’ve likely experienced similar situations before and can offer some helpful advice. Talking to your coach can help you feel more prepared and confident going into the game.
5. Find A Relaxing Pre-game Ritual
For some people, listening to music or reading a book before the game can provide effective relaxation. Others might find that stretching or doing some light exercise helps to calm their nerves.
Everyone is different, so feel free to experiment with varying pre-game rituals until you find one that works for you. The important thing is to do something that helps you relax and gets you in the right frame of mind for the game.
Soccer is a mental game as much as it is a physical one. If you can learn to control your nerves and focus on the task at hand, you’ll be well on your way to creating lasting memories on the field.
6. Warm Up Properly
A proper warm-up helps to increase blood flow to the muscles, loosen up the joints, and improve mental focus which are essential conditions for winning games. It’s important to warm up with teammates before each game.
An effective soccer warm-up should last for at least 15-20 minutes and include a mix of dynamic stretching and light jogging. Players should focus on moves that mimic the actions they’ll be doing on the field.
Here’s a quick soccer warm-up routine that you can use:
• Jog slowly for 2-3 minutes to increase blood flow.
• Do 10-15 reps of each dynamic stretch: leg swings, lunges, high knees, butt kicks, and side shuffles.
• Do some light jogging or shadowboxing for 2-3 minutes.
• Kick the soccer ball around for a few minutes to get a feel for it.
7. Breathe Deeply
When we’re nervous, our breathing becomes shallow and rapid. This can lead to dizziness, lightheadedness, and increased anxiety.
To calm your nerves, focus on taking slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose for a count of four, then exhale through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat this process for a few minutes.
You can also try some specific breathing exercises, like the 4-7-8 method which involves Inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds. Repeat this cycle four times.
8. Visualize Yourself Succeeding
Visualization is a powerful tool that can help players relax and focus before games while boosting their confidence and reducing pre-game nerves.
You can simply start by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Then, picture yourself playing your best soccer by making great plays, scoring goals, and being in the zone.
The next step is to see yourself having fun and enjoying the game. Imagine the crowd cheering for you as you walk off the field with a smile on your face.
9. Use Positive Self-Talk
Negative self-talk can be a damaging spiral that makes you feel more nervous and increases the likelihood of making mistakes.
Instead of beating yourself up, use positive self-talk to build your confidence. Focus on your strengths and what you’ve done well in the past. Remind yourself that you’re capable of playing great soccer.
Some affirmations that you can use:
• I am capable of playing my best soccer.
• I am prepared for this game.
• I trust my skills and training.
• I will stay calm and focused on the task at hand.
10. Focus on The Process, Not The Outcome
The desire to win is natural, but players who focus too much on the outcome of the game often put unbearable pressure on themselves and end up making expensive mistakes. Instead of worrying about the result, focus on the process of playing your best soccer. Operate in the present and take it one play at a time.
Trust your training and let your instincts take over. If you make a mistake, forget about it and move on to the next play. By focusing on the process, you’ll be more relaxed and better able to play your game.
11. Start The Game Positively
The first few minutes of the game are crucial. If you can start positively, it will help settle your nerves and give you a boost of confidence.
To have a great start, focus on doing the little things right. Make a good first touch, win your first tackle, or make a good pass. These small successes will help you relax and get into the flow of the game.
From there, you can start to focus on playing your game and making an impact on the match.
12. Set Realistic Goals
It’s essential to have confidence in your abilities, but it’s also important to set realistic goals. If you’re feeling nervous before a game, try to focus on what you can do to contribute to the team and help them win.
By setting realistic goals, you will be better able to focus on the task at hand and not get overwhelmed by nerves.
13. Stay in The Moment
One of the biggest mistakes players make when they’re feeling nervous is to start thinking about the future. The temptation to visualize what will happen if they make a mistake or if they don’t play well could be extremely high.
Instead of thinking about the future, focus on what you need to do in the here and now. If you can do this, you’ll be in a much better frame of mind to perform at your best.
14. Take Deep Breaths and Stay Positive No Matter The Scoreline
One of the simplest and most effective ways to calm your nerves is to take deep breaths. When you’re feeling anxious, your breathing becomes shallower and faster. This can make you feel even more nervous.
Taking deep, slow breaths will help to slow down your heart rate and calm your nerves. It’s important to do this throughout the game, not just before it starts.
Regardless of the scoreline, stay positive and remain focused on your goals. This can be difficult, but it’s important to keep your head in the game if you want to perform at your best.
15. Take A Break If You Need To
If you’re feeling overwhelmed or your nerves are starting to get the best of you, it’s ok to take a break.
Step out of the game for a moment, catch your breath, and refocus. Drink some water, shake out your arms and legs, and take a few deep breaths. Then, when you’re ready, step back on the field and give it your all.
If you’re feeling nervous before a soccer game, there are a few things you can do to calm down and get into the right frame of mind for peak performance.
First, take some time to focus on your breathing and try to stay in the present moment. Second, set realistic goals for yourself and focus on what you can do to help your team. Lastly, if you start to feel overwhelmed, take a break and refocus.
By following these tips, you’ll be better able to control your nerves and play to the best of your soccer ability.
What should I do if I make a mistake?
If you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it and try to move on as quickly as possible. Instead, focus on what you can do to help your team and correct the mistake in the future. Additionally, take some deep breaths and do not let your mind drift away from the playing field.
What To Do If You Are Nervous About A Soccer Game- Find out the best 15 techniques.