How To Conquer Self Doubt On The Soccer Pitch So That You Perform With Confidence

How To Conquer Self Doubt On The Soccer Pitch So That You Perform With Confidence

Soccer Psychology Tips: How To Conquer Self Doubt On The Soccer Pitch So That You Perform With Confidence

Doubts are very natural when you play soccer or football

Even the best players in the world experience doubts on a regular basis.  However, what they are great at is placing those doubts to one side so that they can:

  • Let go of what others think of them and focus on execution. 
  • Focus on the small things that help them perform instead of trying to avoiding mistakes.
  • Perform for themselves, not to impress or disappoint others.
  • Recognise there is no such thing as the perfect match.
  • Face difficulties head on so that they play with a win ugly mentality when required.

Players who struggle with their confidence find these things immensely difficult, and arguably can have some perfectionist traits where they obsess about outcomes (the execution of a pass or shot), the score and the aftermath of matches where they often get play in their head the following questions:

  • If we don’t win the match, will my teammates think I’m rubbish?
  • If I don’t boss the game at a lower level, will I ever make it?
  • If I don’t perform great today, will my coach drop me?
  • If I don’t play well today, will the scouts think I can’t hack it at the next level?
  • If I don’t score, will my dad be upset with me?
  • If the team get beat, will I feel disappointed and cry?

So how is it possible to place doubts to one side so you can perform equally well in matches as you do in training? With confidence, fearlessly dribbling past players, crunching into tackles and trusting in your skills.

After all, if you do have high standards and a perfectionist streak in you, you’ll not have any problems with your levels of effort, motivation and commitment.

How do you manage self-doubt and banish them from your mind?

You can try a concept called cognitive reframing.  This means seeing your performances on the pitch from a different angle.  So in this case in ways that will help you perform at your best more consistently.

Try these steps for reframing doubts:

  1. Think back to a recent performance when you doubted your ability. List what was going through your mind, the chatter that you experienced at the time.
  2. Now State the doubts above as if you are thinking out loud. Here’s an example of a recent client who struggled against big physical teams:

    Doubt: “I worry I may get muscled off the ball, he’s so strong.”
  3. Reframe and/or challenge each statement. Turn each doubt into a statement of confidence and conviction:

    “I will concentrate on myself, my skills and strengths.  I’ll commit to every tackle and header the way I normally do.”

Here’s a bonus strategy too!  To cement these ideas what you can do is replay the different scenarios in your mind, rehearsing these new statements of confidence that you have come up with you can call them up easily in matches and in training.  

When visualising I’d also bring the emotional experience into the equation too considering how you want to feel in the different situations you come up with.  Do you want to feel big and strong like a lion?  Do you want to feel determined? Do you want to feel relaxed and confident? 

Add in you behaviours and actual response, and this is a seriously powerful exercise.  For example, going up for a head with the big physical player.  You may say “I’m going to make it tough for him to win the ball.”  You may feel, physically strong and committed to the challenge.  Your behaviour could be pushing your body weight against his to gain an advantage, or away from the referee’s eyes giving him a nudge and a push!

With the many soccer and football players that we support, we find this strategy is hugely helpful and really can challenge the doubts that you come up with in your mind, whilst embracing confident and motivational self-talk.

“I’m getting a lot out of the sessions, the message that has really stuck with me and seems like it has made a big difference is the change in focus to looking at what I can control. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a quite remarkable change in my approach to playing- I’m playing more freely, with more determination and really consistent- which has always been one of my challenges.”  Steven, Professional Footballer.

I sincerely hope that you have found this article useful and that some of the tips help you free yourself up to play with LESS FEAR and MORE CONFIDENCE in matches.

You may also be interested in these podcast episodes too.

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

Online Soccer Psychologist who supports many soccer players around the world from the USA, United Kingdom, Ireland, Scandanavia to Australia and New Zealand, using ONLINE Video Conferencing.    

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence, Host of Demystifying Mental Toughness Podcast and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over a decades’ experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, faster.  


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