Players

Here are some of my notes from the presentation by Bill Beswick, legendary coach and sports psychologist. He has worked with the English Football Association's U-18 and U-21 national soccer teams,
Manchester United, Middlesborough and Derby County. He is one of my favor soccer mind on the planet.  "Focused for Soccer"  one of the best book written on sport psychology and soccer in my opinion. Focused for Soccer is a must read for coaches and players who want to maximize their performance. Bill Beswick teaches the components of the mental part of the game and uses specific examples from high level teams and players to illustrate his points. Bill is entertaining and the insight he provides is invaluable. I have been fortunate to speak to him many times in person at conventions, where his presentations are always must see events.
"You should never be better than when you lose.”
”The principle is competing against yourself. It's about self improvement, about being better than you were the day before.”


Mental Skills

  • Highly motivated and welcomes challenge - a competitive "animal." U.S. women's soccer team exemplifies motivation. Manchester United begins practice with a 10 v. 2 keep-away game with the late comers to be the next two in the middle. 
  • Strong self-concept; sees himself as a great player. Identity/ image very important to women players. The threat (fear) of the great player is "How will I cope?" It serves to drive him or her to excel at soccer. 
  • Great confidence in all situations; positive self-talker. 
  • Can change negatives into positives. This is the key to championship teams. The U.S. women have an "in" list and an "out" list. Things they want to think about; things they don't want to think about. 
  • Can handle the "dips" and recover from mistakes. 
  • Has mental toughness; can be trusted to stay disciplined. Approaches every game as a 90-minute battle. This is an excellent habit. 
  • Handles stress well. 
  • Constantly self-references and adapts; a learning player. The key to building character is for players to take ownership of their pluses and minuses and then be able to take ownership of their own progress. 
  • Highly focused and never distracted. 
  • Has great work ethic and persistence - even when it hurts. 
  • Brave enough to want the ball - and make things happen even when the team is losing. 
  • Copes with criticism - fair or unfair. 
  • Clever enough to take care of his body. Can find time to relax and recover in equal amounts. 
  • Has the games-playing and social intelligence to be part of the team performance. Understands the need for social cohesion within the team. 
  • Never loses the enjoyment and fun part of playing soccer. When all other incentives are considered, love of the game still remains the key to player commitment.
Performance follows attitude 

Physical Readiness

  • Look good, feel good, play good
    The ego is first and foremost a bodily ego - Freud
  • No doubts about fitness, strength, energy potential.
  • No lifestyle problems - diet, rest and recovery.
  • No injury concerns.
  • No potential burn-out concerns - "a game too far." 
The harder we prepare, the harder it is to surrender 
Vince Lombardi 


Social Management

A great player must have fire in the belly and ice in the head. It's talent that gets you there; it's character that keeps you there. 

  • Emotion and execution go hand in hand. 
  • Must learn emotional aspects of performance: 
    • Preparation for emotional surges - no surprises. 
    • Self-control - thoughts controlling feelings/mental toughness (Manchester United believes United always scores). 
    • Body-control - breathing, calm. 
    • Ball-control - no loss of rhythm, technique. 
    • Energy control - stay in high, positive zone. 
  • Insulate players from distractions; maintain focus. 
  • Key to playing away matches is beating the environment as much as other team. 
  • Communication/counseling is important in allowing personal feelings to be raised and discussed. 
  • Reaction to errors key; never make one mistake into two. 
  • Keep self-talk positive at all times. 
  • Players to stay in the now, avoid the guilt of the past or the hopes of the future. 

Personal Responsibility

  • Personal and team goals to be achieved: Is the goal the correct goal? Is it realistic? Examine this process carefully. 
  • Good work ethic and prepared well. Have you put the work in? 
  • Courage to face the challenge; break out of the "comfort zone." 
  • Commitment - "excellence is a choice." 
  • Willingness to keep learning. 
  • Coping skills; deal with change, pressure, criticism. 
  • Resilience; can change negatives into positives. 
  • Accountability; accepts ownership of the outcome. 
The greatest quality of the greatest player is humility 
Arrigo Saaci