5 Mental Skills To Build Your Soccer Players Game – The Soccer Player’s Tool Belt

5 mental skills to build your soccer players game - the soccer players tool belt copy

One creative way to grab your players’ attention and talk to them about the mental game of sports is with a tool belt. When you show up for a team practice, walk onto the field wearing the belt. And make sure that you have the basic tools hanging on that belt; including a hammer, pliers, screwdriver, measuring tape and carpenter’s pencil.

Now, as you can imagine, when your players see you wearing the tool belt, some of them will be pointing at you and start laughing. Others will simply smile and shake their heads. And then there will be the players who walk up and ask why are you wearing that belt to practice. Whatever reactions you get, they are all good because you have got their attention and curiosity.

At the beginning of practice, do whatever you can to not respond to or answer any of the comments or questions from the players. Bring the players together and tell them about the goals and plans for that practice. Then get them started with their stretching, exercises and opening drills.

When the team takes its first break, you can ask the players if they know what you’re wearing around your waist. You want to talk to them about why a carpenter wears a tool belt, and how that belt holds different tools which he will use to build a house. Explain to them that they are like carpenters on the soccer field. In order for them to build their mental game, and play with greater confidence, focus and composure, they will need to carry and use different tools during every practice and game. 

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At that first break, show them the hammer. Tell them that the hammer represents their ability to pay attention and focus. Like the carpenter who will be hammering in nails when he is building something, he needs to pay attention to what he is doing. If he wants to get the nail all the way into the wood, and as straight as possible, then he must watch focus on hitting that nail. If he doesn’t, then he will bend the nail or possibly hit his hand and hurt himself. Remind the players that if they want to become better soccer players and be successful on the field, they have to pay attention and focus on what they’re doing at every moment on the field. If not, then they hurt themselves or their team.

During the second break, show the players the screwdriver. Explain to them how a screwdriver is used to drill in a screw to tighten things up and make them more secure. Tell them that the screwdriver represents their ability to keep their attention and focus on the present moment. They must keep their eyes and minds on what they are doing right now. When their minds or attention begin to wander, and they start thinking about what happened during the first ten minutes of the game or worrying about what may happen during the last ten minutes of that game, then their mental game is “not secure”. If they want to keep everything “stable and sturdy”, and be mentally stronger, then they need to keep their attention and focus in the moment.

Throughout the reminder of the practice, you can bring out the other tools. The pliers symbolizes their ability to get a “grip” on their mental game by always focusing on what they control and letting go of what they don’t control. In essence, they have to keep their focus on themselves: on what they are thinking and doing. The measuring tape is to remind them that the only thing that they should be “measuring” is themselves: what they are doing or steps they are taking to become better players. It’s about looking at when they are learning and skills that they are developing from one practice to the other. It’s having personal goals and figuring out what they need to do to reach their goals.

And, towards the end of the practice, show them the carpenter’s pencil. Explain to the players how important it is to have goals for the season, for each practice and for every game. Just like the carpenter who uses that pencil to mark what he is doing, tell them that they need to write down their goals to “mark” what they want to do and are doing to develop into better players.  And they need to read and review those goals on a regular basis.

As the practice wraps up and the players are getting ready to head home, take about one minute to review what you talked to the players during that practice. Simply remind them that when they come to each practice to take a deep breath and imagine that “mental skills tool belt” around their waists. And to visualize the hammer. screwdriver, pliers, measuring tape and carpenter’s pencil.  

We hope you enjoyed this article on The Soccer Player’s Tool Belt – 5 Mental Skills To Build Their Game

Article By:
Anthony Lanzillo is a mental skills coach to athletes. If you have any questions or would like to talk to Anthony about being your coach, email him at [email protected].

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