European Football Championship 2008: Mind over matter
“Getting a player into the perfect frame of mind is a fine balancing act. Some players perform best when they are highly charged; others need to be more relaxed. Cristiano Ronaldo, for instance, is an extrovert who needs to feel ‘pumped up’ to reach his best, and can be seen belting out his national anthem with plenty of gusto, head up and shoulders back. More introverted players, such as Germany’s Miroslav Klose, need to keep themselves calm.
Club v country
“Some players, such as the Czech Republic’s Milan Baros, seem to perform better for their countries than their clubs, which may be because the stimulation of playing in big matches boosts their performances. Conversely, players such as Spain’s Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Ramos can falter at international level, suggesting that they perceive international games to be so important that they become overstressed.
Celebrating good times
“There’s more to goal celebrations than meets the eye. By attaching strong emotions to any positive experience, such as scoring a goal, a player is training his mind to remember that experience – and in doing so, increases his confidence next time he’s faced with a similar situation. Great goalscorers, such as Thierry Henry, Ronaldo and Luca Toni, tend to shrug off misses in a detached way, but experience greater emotions when they do score, making those memories easier to recall.
Negatives v positives
“A goalkeeper can be defined by his mistakes; errors can destroy a keeper’s reputation. And stoppers going through a bad period often tend to talk negatively. But by saying things to themselves like, “Don’t drop the ball,” they are actually imagining dropping the ball, which in turn makes it more likely to happen. Top keeper Petr Cech, who recently suffered a couple of dreadful injuries, isn’t one to fall into that trap: he deflects any fears of further injuries by focusing on what he wants to achieve rather than what he doesn’t want to happen: that sort of positive thinking improves the chances of a positive outcome.
Don’t worry, be happy
“One way of dealing with negative thinking is to enjoy yourself. When players get to the bigger stage, they often think that they have to take the game more seriously. Yet it can then become simply too important, with players concentrating too much on scores and their consequences. This could be Spain’s problem, such is the growing pressure on them to deliver on their potential. With a sense of fun, teams tend to focus more on the performance – it’s always worth backing a team that plays with a smile on their face…”
For more news on the European Football Championship 2008 please visit http://www.castrolindex.com
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