Does Your Warm Up Influence How You Perform?

Soccer Psychology Tips: Does Your Warm Up Influence How You Perform?

Many footballers decide before a match that they aren’t going to perform very well.

In the final moments before the referee blows the whistle to start the game a lot of players are in the wrong mindset.  One of the reason’s players get in the wrong mindset is linked to the warm up.  Many footballers feel that they have to perform well in the warm-up to feel confident in the early stages of a match and to be able to go on and play well for the duration.

Are you one of them?  Or if you’re a coach – are some of your players?      

It is a very common challenge for many footballers, who judge the quality of their warm up before a match and go on to assume that because they took some heavy touches, that they misplaced some passes, dropped a cross or hit the ball into row Z while shooting in the warm up that they will perform the same way in the match.   

This can often stem from faulty expectations about the warm up which requires challenging.  Such faulty expectations often mean a footballer can be a little bit or very anxious.  They can be in “overthinking” mode too.  The likelihood is the first 10 minutes of the match, they’ll be on the edge of the game, easing their way in, playing cautiously.

Are you one of those players? Do you worry about the quality of your warm up before you play a match? Does the warm up have a big impact on your confidence levels?

Many players may cast their mind back to a recent past performance when they had a poor warm up and then take it into a match.  The footballer then catasphrophises about this situation thinking: “if it’s happened once, it’s going to happen again”, over-generalising.  This then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What you expect of yourself in a warm up is vital for your confidence in the opening moments of a match and can set the tone for the way that you will perform.   If you tell yourself that you don’t “have it” today, the likelihood is you won’t have it and you won’t perform with any confidence and conviction.

Reactive Confidence 

What we’re talking about here is, reactive confidence, when you REACT to the quality of your warm up.  Proactive confidence is a much better form of confidence to have and is based around you having good, solid processes in place.  

3 Tips to start a match strongly with high confidence

  1. Consider the meaning of warm up.  For example, a definition is “prepare for physical exertion or a performance by exercising or practising gently beforehand.”  This suggests that you don’t have to be at your best and that it’s a time to help you get loose and to physically and mentally prepare you for the match coming up.  
  2. Think about how you perceive those uncomfortable feelings, the butterflies and the adrenaline in your system.  Some footballers worry that something is wrong with them, those feelings then have an impact on them overthinking the situation and they get in their own heads.  The best players, the one’s who transfer their skills from training to matches comfortably don’t.  They recognise that their focus changes when they are in this state.  They use the intensity and adrenaline as an advantage and are more likely to be saying “I love these feelings”, “I can’t wait for the match to start” or “I’m going to terrorise this defender.”
  3. Being aware of the processes that you have in place that positively influence your confidence is vital.  This then means that you can rely on the years of training and matchday experiences that you have accumulated.  Do you think Lionel Messi worries if his warm up is not great?  No he’s got lots of positive memories in training and in matches that he can recall and visualise in the build up to a match.  Confidence should be a proactive process, gained over the long term, based on months and years of planning and training. 

Moving forward DON’T be one of those players who let’s their warm up impact on how they perform.  

If you enjoyed reading this article please do forward it on to other footballers or coaches who may benefit from it or sign up to the Mental Edge for regular tips and advice on football or soccer psychology.

If you’re enjoying reading my sports psychology blogs, please do forward them on to other coaches, parents or athletes who would appreciate them or why not sign up to the Mental Edge for regular tips.

You can also join our online community – THE SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY HUB – for regular Sports Psychology tips, podcasts, motivation and support.

David Charlton Sports Psychologist

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist who is located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  David also uses online video conferencing software (Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp) on a regular basis and has clients who he has supported in USA, Canada, South America, UAE, Australian and New Zealand.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.   

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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