Football, like all sports, requires an optimistic outlook and an ability to focus on your own strengths as opposed to worrying about what cannot be controlled. A positive mindset comes from self-belief and a strong vision of how you perceive your performance to look like. Athletes worldwide use visualisation as a tool to get the most out of themselves. A simple technique is to focus on an act that evokes positive memories – for example scoring a goal, making a crucial tackle, or beating an opponent with skill. By channelling your energy into positive acts, your mind tends to follow through.
Putting it into perspective
At the end of it, football is just a game. That is the perspective that you must continue to have throughout your season. Competition anxiety can arise when you build an event up in your head to an excessive degree. If you continue to repeat to yourself that football is only a sport, you will not only be less inhibited on the field, but you will be able to enjoy the game for what it is.
The importance of calming breathing techniques is possibly underrated. Simply put, physical signs of stress can emerge when you are breathing heavily and have an increased heart rate. Signs to look out for include fidgeting, tension in muscles and an overload of thoughts entering your mind. To control this, it is crucial to take slow, deep breaths and focus on relaxing the body and mind.
Interact with teammates and family
Competition anxiety can sometimes lead to withdrawing from communication with others. It is important to make sure that you are keeping open dialogue with family members and letting them know of any stress or nervousness that is occurring. It is also necessary to keep talking with teammates and maintain light-hearted chat with them. Sometimes we are so preoccupied with how we are feeling that we tend to forget that others are in our exact, same position.
Establish a routine
Many elite players have routines that they set out specifically before games. Routines help to focus the mind on a set of activities that the player believes will assist them in putting in a great game. An example of a routine would be light snacks two hours prior to kick off or setting out your football kit the night before a game to avoid a last-minute panic. Routines require a bit of getting used to, but once it becomes a habit, it can be an effective way of focussing yourself away from any stress.