When the going gets tough…

By: Elite Soccer

Dan Abrahams is a sports psychologist who specialises as a soccer consultant. He has worked with both clubs and individuals, and was recently seen on Sky Sports discussing a wide range of topics.

With a Master’s Degree in Sports Psychology, and having formerly being a professional sportsman, he brings a unique insight into the importance of the mind in sport.

Dan’s book, Soccer Tough, is aimed at players and coaches from the amateur to professional. There really is something for everyone here, aided by the use of plain English throughout, with simple, easy to understand tips.

A game of mindset

Opening the book, Dan explores the idea that the mind can be both your greatest asset and your inner enemy.

At one moment, when your mind is sharp and tuned in, you have a great game. The next, you make a mistake and self-doubt accentuates the error, creating nervousness and fear. The result is that your game deteriorates with each passing minute.

This is purely a case of soccer mindset and Dan demonstrates clearly and simply how you can affect and control your mindset in the same way as you can control your muscles and passes.

You create you

In the second chapter, Dan explores the concept of self belief and looks at how you can use your memory and imagination to create a positive self image. Dan recounts a real life situation about a player with whom he worked and some of the activities employed to build that player’s self image and belief.

Daydreaming

Abrahams examines the useful tool of daydreaming, looking at how mental rehearsal can prepare us for forthcoming games. Finding an environment where you can concentrate without interruption is described as your “imagination home”, and is where you can use mental skills to prepare your mind in the same way as you would use a gym to prepare your muscles.

Inner voice

Positive self-talk is a technique that is introduced to the reader. This is not merely about being ‘upbeat’, but works towards creating a script for yourself that can help you overcome individual challenges.

ANTs

Again using clear examples and real life situations, Dan Abrahams looks at how the mind is often quick and pre-programmed to resort to Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). Dan examines why this is so, preparing the reader to understand that, in certain circumstances they can be life-preserving and yet, in a performance environment sense, they can do exactly the opposite.

Abrahams again demonstrates some clear steps that, with practice, shows how to recognise and control such thoughts, and to re-programme your mind to constructing something far more useful for the performance environment.

Summary

Throughout the book, while Dan acknowledges that every individual is different, he shows that there are common mental challenges for all players and coaches at all levels of the game, and these are superbly illustrated with the use of vivid examples that highlight the issues.

With a series of exercises that are both practical and simple, only the dedication of the reader is required to practise and perfect the skills to enhance the mental control of your game.

The author’s style is engaging and has a light touch that keeps the pages turning, and with well-illustrated examples, what could be a dry subject is never anything but fascinating.

Whether you are a coach, a player, or maybe even the parent of someone is in need of assistance, this easy to use book is a valuable tool for anyone who seeking to improve
performance.

Soccer ToughDan Abrahams.