The Little Girl in the Car

Helping Youth Soccer Players Overcome The Fear of Tryouts

 

The girl and her father pulled up to the soccer field next to my wife’s car.

It was a tryout for an ECNL-affiliated soccer club for 11- and 12-year-old girls. One by one, ponytailed players with oversized soccer bags excitedly ran from their cars and onto the field to stretch and warm up.

ALL EXCEPT FOR THE GIRL IN THE CAR NEXT TO US.

She never got out. She was in tears as the father implored her to join the tryout. At one point, he even got out of the car to further encourage her, but it was futile.

She never budged. And after about 20 minutes, they left.

While I don’t know the girl or the reason she remained in the car, this story breaks my heart.

I feel bad for the father because, as parents, we want our kids to attack life with all the confidence in the world, consequences be damned. And as much as we want to protect our kids, I think we’d all rather see them try and fail than never make an...

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Help! I’m a Coach and Want to Teach the Mental Game – Part III

This article was originally published in Soccer Today on November 6, 2020.

Help! I’m a Coach and Want to Teach the Mental Game – Part III

                                         By Bryan Price, Ph.D.

If you’re a soccer coach, chances are you religiously keep up with the latest drills and methods to improve the technical and tactical aspects of your team.

You no doubt study the latest trends in strategy, formations, and styles of play to stay one step ahead of the competition on the pitch.

But if you’re like most coaches, you probably don’t know where to turn for help on the mental game.

Even though U.S. Soccer has designated the psychological component as the 4th pillar of player development, it is the one that is the most difficult for coaches to develop and the pillar that has the fewest resources for coaches and players.

And yet, that...

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Help! I’m a Coach and I Want to Teach the Mental Game, But Don’t Know Where to Start - Part I

Help! I’m a Coach and Want to Teach the Mental Game – Part I

Bryan Price

If you’re a soccer coach, chances are you religiously keep up with the latest drills and methods to improve the technical and tactical aspects of your team.

You no doubt study the latest trends in strategy, formations, and styles of play to stay one step ahead of the competition on the pitch.

But if you’re like most coaches, you probably don’t know where to go for help on the mental game.

Even though U.S. Soccer has designated the psychological component as the 4th pillar of player development, it is the one that is the most difficult for coaches to develop and the pillar that has the fewest resources for coaches and players.

And yet, that psychological component might be the most important pillar of development, especially for players hoping to compete at an elite level.

According to an article published last year on how the U.S. Women’s National Team was developing their...

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Comfort Zones and the Need to Get Out of Them

 

Let’s face it - getting out of our comfort zones is scary.

But getting outside of our comfort zone is what we ultimately need to grow.

This was Schmoopie a year ago, about to go down one of North America’s longest ziplines in Whistler, Canada.

She had been on a small zipline (about 100m long and only a few feet off the ground) the year prior, but this was a whole new ball of wax.

Looking back at this memory, I’m really amazed at how brave she was. She is like me, relatively risk-averse, and willing to shut it down when she feels uncomfortable.

They weigh every participant so they meet minimum weight (you need to make sure you weigh enough to get across, otherwise you could get stuck in the middle). My daughter was 0.25 lb over the minimum, so she was terrified.

But she was willing to grow - and to grow, she had to take a calculated risk and break through the uncomfortableness.

In the old NFL movie Crunch Course, there’s a special teams coach who quotes the...

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Control the Controllables

Note: This article was published in Soccer Today on May 18, 2020. 

Jim Thorpe - 1912

When Jim Thorpe woke up on the second day of competition during the 3-day decathlon in the 1912 Olympic games in Stockholm, he must’ve felt extremely confident.

Thorpe, voted the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century and arguably the greatest athlete the United States has ever produced, had already won gold in the pentathlon a week prior. In fact, he won four of the five events.

On the first day of the decathlon, he ran the 100-meter dash in 11.2 seconds. That record would stand for another 36 years. What’s even more impressive is that Thorpe ran it in a downpour.

But on the second day of the decathlon, somebody had stolen his cleats.

Imagine training for four years for the Olympic games, and the only piece of equipment you need to compete in your event is stolen.

So what did Thorpe do? He and his coach rummaged around and eventually found two discarded shoes in the...

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Top Mental Game’s Interview with Julie Foudy

 

This article was published by Soccer Today on May 3, 2020.

Julie Foudy is one of the most accomplished female soccer players in the world. A dominant midfielder for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 1987 through 2004, Julie served as co-captain for nine years and captain from 2000 through her retirement. In her 18-year national team tenure that included 271 international caps, the U.S. women won two FIFA Women’s World Cup titles (1991, 1999), two Olympic gold medals (1996, 2004), and a silver medal in 2000. She began working as an analyst for ESPN in 2005 and founded the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy in 2006. She was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in August 2007.


Last week Julie sat down with SoccerToday columnist Bryan Price at the Top Mental Game Soccer Summit to discuss the mental game and its importance to her career.

When were you first introduced to mental skills training and what impact did it have on your career?

Foudy: It is and has...

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A Creative Way to Build Confidence and Increase Focus

How to Prepare for a Big Competition

Last week, I did a fun project with one of my young clients at Top Mental Game. She is an elite swimmer preparing for the Junior Olympic swimming trials.

In the past couple of months, we’ve worked on goal-setting, focus, positive self-talk, visualization, and pre-practice and pre-competition routines.

We’ve also talked about how the creation of an alter-ego can enhance performance. Sparked by a conversation where we discussed Kobe Bryant’s use of his Black Mamba Mentality, I asked her what animal she’d like to transform into when competing in the pool. She instantaneously said a Great White shark. 

I had her write down what words described her alter-ego and we brainstormed on more. She came up with adjectives like fierce, ferocious, unafraid, fast, deadly, confident, and scary. 

At the time I thought of this idea, she had 11 practices before the big event. I created a collage comprised of her...

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The next time you miss the big shot...do THIS, not THAT

 

Happy Mindset Monday - Thanksgiving week edition!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving - I am thankful for so much this year, including the Top Mental Game community.

This week’s edition is about the ingredients that go into success or failure. 

If you’ve played or coached sports long enough, you know the story I’m about to tell. 

A player misses a big shot in in the clutch. Maybe it’s the 3-foot putt to win the tournament. Or down by 1-point and shooting a one-and-one with no time left on the clock. Or taking the last PK when it’s tied up. 

If a player doesn’t come through in the clutch, what does he/she do? The next day, you hear about them making 100 putts from that distance, or making 100 free throws in an empty gym, or 100 PKs after dark. 

While these are all great for building muscle memory and proper technique, what if I told you that they won’t do anything the next time that player is in the clutch...

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The Gratitude Exercise - Reduce Anxiety, Get Present, and Improve Performance

 

Happy Mindset Monday everyone!

In this week’s edition, I decided to post a video from a recent talk I gave to the Seton Hall University baseball team on the power of visualization and imagery. 

I work with my clients to create personalized visualization and imagery exercises to increase confidence, reduce anxiety, and perform at their best when it matters the most. 

Every athlete is different - some prefer unguided visualizations where they create the imagery and content. 

Others prefer guided visualizations which involve listening to someone provide direction to you on what to do and what to think. 

I expose my athletes to both kinds of visualizations, and I use emWave HeartMath software to show them how their bodies react to each kind. 

One of my most effective unguided visualization exercise is the “waves” exercise which I will describe in another blog post.

But given it is Veteran’s Day, I decided to share this video of my...

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