This years World Cup has brought a soccer fever to the US. More people are watching it and talking about it than ever before. I’m wondering if it will have a boost on US youth soccer programs (probably) or professional soccer attendance (probably not).
What has fascinated me this year is Brazil’s collapse. Losing 7-1 to Germany and then 3-1 to the Netherlands. It just goes to show how important mental training and preparation are at every level.
I am sure that the Brazilian side is as skilled as any other team. They have the speed and talent to beat anybody. But when they got down quick against Germany they fell apart.
You could see it in their faces and body language.
You could see it in their interactions with each other.
They were never able to get back together as a team.
And the slump continued to the third place game.
I have no idea what kind of physical training and preparation Brazil does. I’m betting that it is cutting edge and creative. They are incredible athletes.
But somewhere along the line they reverted to a typical group of middle school kids.
The mistake they made was they didn’t work on resiliancy. Or if they did, the players, coach and team didn’t master the lesson.
Everybody has to learn how to get back on track. Individuals and teams will make mistakes. They will get behind. In sport and and life it happens. Like the famous quote says, “Six times down, seven times up.”
Here are five ways to help your youth sport team be resiliant and to bounce back.
Bring it up in practice. Don’t wait for a game; by then it’s too late.
If you lose control and start yelling and get emotional it sets a bad example for your team and it will make getting back on track more difficult. When things are falling apart you must remain calm and collected.
Teach your players how to breathe deeply and relax. Five deep abdominal breaths and shaking of the limbs will relax the body and get your team physically and mentally ready to come back.
Teams that are close emotionally tend to support each other. This togetherness is critical in difficult times.
Set-up scrimmages and mini games where one side is behind and has to score quick. Get your athletes prepared by rehearsing what they need to do by actually practicing it. Similiar to a two minute drill in football, it works with every sport.
It’s funny how the issues that kids have in youth sports can carry over to the most elite and professional levels (though I’m sure the Brazilians aren’t laughing). A large part of youth sports is preparing kids for life beyond and outside of sports. Taking time to teach mental skills goes a long way to improving your team, your individual players and creating successful adults.