Due to the competitive nature of soccer as a sport, the subject of anxiety cannot be overlooked. Many things cause anxiety in soccer players.
Every team wants to come out of every match with excellent results, and players want to come up with a good performance for many other reasons. These are the causes that build up anxiety in soccer players.
When someone suffers from anxiety, they can focus on the bad and overlook the advantages. It might drive you to quit or skip sports entirely to avoid losing or underperforming.
This, in turn, causes a loss of drive and, in some cases, prevents people from participating in sports at all.
All sports require proper nutrition and a well-balanced diet, and both professional and amateur athletes must follow a regular and consistent eating schedule.
However, the negative impact of worry on athletes in any activity, including soccer, is that it causes them to lose appetite, and malnutrition will inevitably affect their performance on the field.
It is typical for people to struggle in social situations when they are apprehensive. This may have a big influence on team sports like soccer, where there’s a strong balance of work and play, as well as a requirement for camaraderie and engagement on and off the field.
Anxiety is a disorder that can cause a severe sensation of loneliness, which can be amplified in social situations. This, in turn, has a positive effect on the performance of players who do not know how to stay cool throughout a game.
With this knowledge of how bad anxiety can be to a soccer player’s performance on the pitch, this article is dedicated to enlightening readers to know ways by which they can help stay calm during a soccer game.
Read more: How to Stop Overthinking in Soccer?
How to stay calm during a soccer game?
The ability of a soccer player to stay calm in a soccer game is an important part of the factors that determine the performance of the player and the result of the team at large. Therefore, anxiety management on the pitch should be one of the major things a team should work on.
The effects of anxiety cannot be overemphasized as it always comes with negative outcomes at the tail-end. Many things can make a soccer player unsettled before a match.
This section of the article will give further illumination on how to control those factors and remain focused and settled before, during, and even after the soccer match.
Figure out the cause of your fear
Whenever the reason for a thing is not known, there is the possibility of taking wrong steps. This applies to a soccer player or any random person in this world with the way fear is being handled.
Everyone needs to know that getting to know the reason or the cause of one’s fear or anxiety is very important. This is because getting to know the cause will help in getting the right prescription of steps to overcome it.
Fear and anxiety are normal feelings every human has. It’s just that the way that everyone handles it is very different. Some have it well-tamed, while some cannot tame it. That is why the reaction of soccer players on the pitch is quite different.
For example, it might be a player you will be playing against who is the major reason you feel unsettled. Or the reactions of the fans when you make mistakes. It might even be the reaction of your teammates or coach.
But to get yourself restored to calmness, you must get to the bottom of your search for the major cause of your uneasy feelings or why you are feeling anxious.
Most of the time, when you sit with a sincere mind to have an honest review of the problem, you might probably find out that the issue is not as serious as you might have viewed it to be.
The solution to the problem might just be for you to be more committed to training to get better in the aspect where you might be feeling insecure or afraid, which might cause anxiety and uneasiness on the soccer pitch.
Do not start berating yourself or telling yourself unhelpful things like “I’ll never be able to get out of this” or “I’m unable.” Instead, recognize that you can and will overcome this.
Telling yourself, you can’t do it is an act of jumping to conclusions. And, that might not be helpful unless you have confirmation from your teammates or coach. But, even after confirmation, you should not be too focused on the negative part of your problem but on how to grow past it.
Make a deliberate effort to put your worry out of your thoughts if it is primarily imaginary or can’t be dealt with right now. On the other hand, if you have a concern that needs to be addressed, take steps to develop a plan of action.
After you’ve figured out what’s causing your anxiety, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions to figure out what to do next – questions on how to overcome or even prevent it.
Try the visualization coping method
When athletes can mentally develop a picture or a succession of images pertinent to their sport without any external suggestions or stimuli, it is referred to as visualization.
Visual pictures are frequently the most significant aspect of athletic training, and they can even be used as the main technique of mental preparation. However, auditory pictures (sounds), tactile sensations (touch), and merely emotional stimuli may also be used by athletes.
As applicable to the athlete’s endeavor to improve performance, in conjunction with visualization or as a stand-alone training tool.
In sports, there is a strong link between physical and mental performance. Over-analyzing detracts from an athlete’s capacity to respond spontaneously, which is typically a more desired characteristic than the ability to think through every sporting situation.
The goal of visualization is to transport the athlete to a picture that depicts what perfection means in the sport. The brain directs the targeted muscles to perform in a certain way throughout visualization.
This directive establishes a neuronal structure in the brain that is similar to the network formed by actual physical movement performance.
A soccer player who is recuperating or rehabbing from an injury might also benefit from visualization.
Positive ideas of competition or healthy athletic movement may be used to psychologically transport a soccer player from the monotonous training room or gym to the thrilling athletic life, especially while utilizing a stationary trainer or otherwise while the player is exercising.
Many professional soccer players employ visualization to improve their performance, confidence, and anxiety management. Visualization, often known as imaging or mental rehearsal, is the process of envisioning yourself performing well in a sporting event.
Close your eyes and visualize the bodily motions you would make to be successful in a competition. Then, consider walking at the same rate as you would in reality.
Also, be sure you’re visualizing from your point of view, not from the point of view of an observer. You should see the environment (crowd, field) as if you were there in person, rather than watching yourself compete.
Some pointers on how to make visualization work? Make the envisioned event as genuine as possible by doing anything you can.
If heading to an empty soccer pitch and taking your seat on the bench makes the imagined experience you have in a game more genuine, go for it.
If crowd noise is likely to distract you during a competition, try to obtain an audio recording of crowd noise to listen to while visualizing the event.
Consider the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations you have. Using all five of your senses may aid in the creation of a compelling image that appears more genuine.
Whatever you can do to make the envisioned experience feel more real will help you translate your vision into reality.
Use the goal-setting technique
Clearly stated objectives can help you track your progress, while excessively ambitious goals might leave you feeling overwhelmed and doubtful of your skills. For example, a soccer player’s anxiety and unease might be exacerbated by having unclear aims.
As a result, it’s best to set attainable and difficult objectives and break things down into smaller chunks using a series of short-term goals wherever feasible.
Setting goals is critical for athletes (including soccer players) to attain their best results. The goal-setting approach allows them to understand where they are now in terms of performance and where they want to improve and how they plan to do so without getting confused or nervous.
Setting systematic objectives that are focused on performance and effectiveness instead of the competition’s result is critical for soccer players to help them take their minds off the outcome of matches that could lead to
While winning is a fantastic aim, focusing on self-development, learning, and progress is far more successful in terms of improving athletic performance and skills.
An excellent technique for athletes to become more motivated and determined is to set objectives. They have a greater sense of direction when they have a goal in mind as opposed to training aimlessly. In addition, it encourages individuals to be more tenacious and driven in their pursuit of that specific goal.
The feeling of achieving any goal in life is always fantastic. The feeling is the same for athletes(including soccer players).
They feel a wonderful sense of achievement when they achieve goals that have been established for them, which enhances their confidence. Depending on their levels of performance, each athlete should have their own individual goals.
It enables individuals to concentrate on developing themselves rather than comparing themselves to others or even becoming anxious about anything. As a result, you’ll notice a shift and improvement in their athletic performance after they fulfill the goals they’ve set for themselves.
It improves the team’s morale. Together with confidence, making use of the goal-setting method can increase team spirit. When team members feel self-confident, the entire team will be more driven and energetic to perform better.
Take deep breaths
Many additional relaxation techniques are built based on breathing exercises, which are simple to master. These exercises encourage you to breathe slowly and deeply, making you feel calmer. This can be a very good way to relax your nerves on the soccer pitch.
Taking deep breaths has also been shown to revitalize and rejuvenate people. Deep breathing also draws your attention and concentration to the breathing process, which helps you clear your thoughts and manage your breathing pattern.
The deep breathing exercise can help with muscular tension as well as other frequent panic symptoms, including high heart rate and breath shortness.
Proper breathing may reduce stress and muscular tension, soothe nerves, enhance attention, limit negative and distracting thoughts, reduce tiredness, and increase stamina.
Unfortunately, adequate breathing is frequently overlooked when it comes to physical preparation. Yet, evidence suggests that practicing breathing on a regular, long-term basis can increase the body’s ability to cope with stress.
Breathing science is based on ancient principles. Breathing exercise concentrates on steady, regular, and occasionally deep breathing and can help you manage stress and enhance your health.
The concepts of breathing are derived from Pranayama, an ancient yogic breathing method. Studies have already demonstrated that Yoga breathing reduces heart rate, stress, and blood pressure, boost immunity, and aid sleep.
Start by sitting upright in a relaxed posture, and you can place your tongue on the ridge of your gums, right below your front teeth, to practice this soothing method.
Exhale for eight counts after expanding your diaphragm and gently inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds. Pause your breathing for another 7 seconds, then open your mouth gently, keeping your tongue still in place.
Steady diaphragmatic breathing gives you a calm, energized sense. Pay attention to any strain in your shoulders, neck, or jaw at times of stress, such as before a race. Picture your breath going in and out of the deep portion of your lungs as you relax these places.
When you first perform this exercise, it is mild, but with repetition and practice, it becomes more powerful. You can’t do it too often, but it’s best to limit yourself to four breaths at a time during the first month of practice.
You can go up to eight breaths later if you like. Do not be alarmed if you feel a bit lightheaded when you first breathe in this manner; it will pass. It’s said to be effective if utilized regularly over time.
The goal of these planned breathing sessions, on the other hand, is to retrain your entire breathing pattern. After some practice, you should be able to breathe more deeply without even realizing it.
You need to subscribe to a healthy diet
As a soccer player, it’s critical to prioritize a healthy diet as much as possible. While it may appear absurd to relate your anxiety to the food you eat, the foods you eat significantly influence your mental health.
According to studies, there is a link between improper eating and high levels of worry and stress. Therefore, increase the amount of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains in your regular diet.
Get tested to see if you have any food allergies that might be causing your anxiety; this is a typical occurrence.
High doses of vitamin C have been shown in several studies to help reduce stress. For example, vitamin C can lower stress levels in those who take 500 mg per day, and it has also been linked to anxiety management.
To keep calm during the soccer game, players can eat fruits that provide vitamin C or take the prescribed pill version of vitamin C. Soccer players can start with fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and strawberries to get vitamin C.
In your diet, you can also include herbs. There are herbal supplements that serve as a remedy to anxiety or unsettledness. You don’t have to rely entirely on chemical-laden drugs to ease your anxiety.
Try an all-natural herbal treatment instead. Several scientific studies have found a significant link between valerian root and chamomile supplementation and decreased anxiety. Before turning to stronger drugs, try one of these vitamins.
Take to cognitive reframing (restructuring)
Cognitive restructuring is based on the premise that you can affect your emotions and behaviors like a soccer player if you can modify your automatic ideas.
While working with a therapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy is suggested when performing cognitive restructuring, you may utilize the approach to redefine your negative ideas on your own.
For example, as a soccer player, you may utilize cognitive restructuring to prepare yourself for success on the field psychologically.
Cognitive restructuring deals with a process rather than a technique. It uses a variety of techniques to alleviate anxiety, including thought recording, arguing, and directed questioning, replacing these cognitive errors with more reasonable and pleasant beliefs.
The first step is to write down your dark thoughts and the situation that generated them in a diary. Then, check to see if any trends exist.
You may discover that you are OK in professional situations with familiar teammates but that you become uncomfortable on the pitch. For example, you could be afraid of being one-on-one with a player or shooting, but not mixing and generally helping the team.
After you’ve gone over your notes, the next step is to figure out which elements of your thinking you could be misrepresenting or misinterpreting. All examples are overgeneralization, rushing to conclusions, rejecting the positives, or even diminishing some aspects.
The next stage is to establish whether or not your beliefs are real, as well as what evidence backs them up, and then to substitute every bit of your previous negative thinking with factual and positive assertions.
You can also practice mindfulness before each match
As a soccer player who wants to give all their best in a soccer game but feels anxious, mindfulness might be the best remedy.
This meditation practice can help you calm your mind and body by slowing down racing thoughts, reducing negativity, and calming your mind.
It has been demonstrated in research across age groups, genders, and geographical boundaries how potent a practice it can be.
A 2015 study, for example, found that participants who used mindfulness meditation techniques saw a considerable reduction in anxiety and stress.
You might be shocked at how difficult it is to sit in silence when you first start meditating. Part of the meditation practice, believe it or not, is also becoming conscious of how the process of sitting motionless may send your thoughts into drive.
The idea is to watch the mind rather than evaluate it merely. Start with short sessions to develop a feel for the practice. You may progressively extend your time once you’ve established a more regular, comfortable routine.
It’s also crucial to meditate in a place where you will not be distracted by your environment or disturbed by people, dogs, or phones.
Take off your shoes, as well as any heavy jewelry or anything that restricts your movement. The idea is to meditate in a location that is as quiet and relaxing as possible.
Meditation might initially raise emotions of worry or self-judgment. Instead of trying to silence that inner voice, acknowledge it and let it pass.
This will assist you in learning to sit with unsettling ideas without reacting. You may become less worried and more at ease with yourself with time.
Staying calm is of great benefit to soccer players, but for many reasons, anxiety sets in. Anxiety does not come alone; it comes with adverse effects that are enough to affect a player’s performance on the pitch.
To stay calm on the soccer pitch during a match, a player needs to identify the cause of their fear and anxiety so they can get the right prescription to stay calm on the pitch.
Soccer players can also try the coping visualization technique, which will help them use their senses to create the result they would most like to have on the pitch.
Goal-setting is another prescription for making a soccer player stay calm in a soccer game because the goal will take the player’s mind off anxiety and focus on the important thing.
Deep breathing and feeding well can also help soccer players stay calm and focused in a soccer match.
Cognitive reframing can also help a soccer player stay calm and relieve anxiety and stress. In addition, it aids in the restructuring of soccer players’ mindsets and allows them to remain focused on what is important.
Mindfulness is also a very beneficial way soccer players can help themselves stay focused and calm. Before soccer matches, players can engage in this activity to get calmer and anxiety-free.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!