I have been on twitter since April 22, 2009 @Brian_Pink, during that time I have followed @danabrahams77, a sports psychologist from England, who offers a steady diet of insightful tweets related to sports psychology intended to elicit peak athletic performance. As a coach and father, I have a growing sense and appreciation of the role of psychology in success. Thus it was with great anticipation that I read Dan Abrahams new book “Soccer Tough”.
Soccer Tough is a well-written handbook to managing your brain. Ostensibly, it does so with soccer, but the techniques and lessons from the book are applicable to any sport, and really any aspect of life. The book is broken into two halves. The first half introduces the reader to the brain and the components that comprise self-image. The second half offers case studies that speak to specific performance issues and problem solving.
At every turn, Abrahams melds the interaction of mind and body in high level performance.
The brain, left to it’s own devices, has a negative bias, and will drift to negative thoughts. Negativity becomes a pre-occupation, and ultimately a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure or at the least limitation. The brain must be fed positive thoughts to build and nurture a positive self-image. This is accomplished through perception, memory and imagination.
Perception is essentially how you see a given situation. Abraham’s uses the example of Leo Messi embracing his diminutive stature and early health issues as an asset to emphasize his point. Memory is the storing and drawing upon the player’s best games rather than dwelling on mistakes and poor performance. Imagination is the carrot that carries the player toward the end goal of being a pro player or eventually a champion.
Once a positive self-image has been constructed and nurtured, it needs to be focused. Abrahams outlines a simple, but effective technique for maintaining focus.: the me, the now, the script. The me is to focus on only those things an individual player can control: thoughts, ball control, and work rate. This is critically distinguished from those things uppon which a player may only influence: winning, officiating, scoring or the opposition. The now is playing in the moment unburdened by mistakes of the past or anxiety over the outcome. The script is a concise prompt of two or three plays that will be vital to success in your role in the game.
The book concludes with case studies of player’s Abrahams has worked with in the past. Abrahams uses these cases to illustrate the process of identifying the problem, and developing techniques to bring about tangible progress.
I recommend the book to any athlete, coach or parent that wants to greater understanding of how their brain works and what they can do to train their brain for improvement in their chosen sport or field.
Soccer Tough is available at amazon.com
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