Do You Worry Too Much About What Other People Think?
Trying to gain social approval is natural but…
Many footballers that I work with to improve their performance levels worry too much about what other people think. It could be the manager, coaching staff, fans, team-mates, scouts, friends, family or parents.
Do you fall into that category?
Are you always trying to seek social approval? If so, it’s likely to mean that you put far too much pressure on yourself and can get distracted on occasions.
You’ll likely worry about disappointing your teammates or the coaches if you make a bad pass, miss a shot on goal or lose possession.
This is very common.
“When I make a mistake, like losing the ball, my body language can be awful. If I do it a few times, I really struggle and get upset with myself often hiding in spaces and watching the game pass me by. I’ll also go quiet and not ask for the ball. I really struggle with this, I am frightened about the coach’s reaction or disappointing my teammates if I make a mistake so it’s easy just to disappear from the game. It’s really eating me up and frustrating me. How can I stop this?”
What we can see is that this player was either stuck in the past catastrophising about mistakes or worrying about the future and making more mistakes. Always these thoughts are about other people which isn’t helpful.
The key is to be present and accepting that worrying about what other people think is natural. That way you won’t get caught up in the trap of adding more and more pressure on yourself and failing to relax and express yourself.
If you’re guilty of worrying about other people too much. You’ll fall into the trap of trying to mind read, making assumptions about what others might think about the way that you perform.
You likely be thinking:
“I wonder if the coach will go crazy in the dressing room later and pull me in front of the lads.”
“What will my social media look like later after that mistake?”
“My dad and brother will be giving me stick if I don’t start playing better!”
“I hope the scout’s didn’t see me do …….”
Social Approval Explained
Be aware that social approval is dangerous and can seriously hurt your football performances with negative thinking, perfectionism, pressure, fear, tension, self-criticism all distracting you from what you are good at. It’s also likely to mean that you rush passes and make poor decisions.
Strategies to Play Football with Confidence
A key is to recognise when you are reading other people’s minds. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I mind read what the manager or coach is looking for?
- Do I mind read in the changing room about what I look like?
- Do I mind read when others are watching me play football?
- Do I mind read after I make a mistake?
- Do I mind read when I see other people’s reactions?
Now, it’s important to understand why you worry so much about what others think about why you play football:
- Are you looking to avoid embarrassment?
- Do you want to gain others peoples’ approval?
- Do you want to impress other people with your skills?
- Do you use football to make you feel good and gain respect from other people?
Once you’ve got a handle on why you mind read and worry too much about what other people think, you can start thinking about better ways to respond in different situations.
Or you can follow the 3R’s process:
Recognise: I’m drifting into space again and not asking for the ball.
Regroup: Ok, forget the last mistake I made, get busy again.
Refocus: Make the runs into good areas, communicate with your teammates.
This is a starting point to help you become more aware of why and when you worry about others and the impact it has on your game.
If you enjoyed this article feel free to share it to team-mates, friends or coaches or sign up to “The Mental Edge” for Football Psychology updates and tips.
To get in touch for one 2 one Sports Psychology Coaching with a Leading Sports Psychologist, David Charlton and his team, based in the North East England however operating across the globe with ONLINE Sports Psychology Coaching.
Sport Psychologist located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally. Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence. With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.
T: +44 7734 697769
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