Last night I was at a high school football game, and this morning a U-15 soccer game. At each game, I saw different examples of losing body language. It is so important to be aware of your team’s body language and the role of physiology driving psychology.
In the football game, both teams started playing aggressive defense, running to the ball and celebrating every stop. The body language was outstanding…..until one team took the lead. Slowly, but noticeably the trailing team stopped celebrating, each stop became more relief than accomplishment. Five and six players swarming to the ball became one or two. Hands to hips, heads down, they were the picture of fatigue, frustration and defeat.
This was a team that has trained twice a day through the summer with great numbers, but looked lifeless early in the third quarter not because they were fatigued, but because they capitulated to the circumstance of the game. The outcome may well have been different and the impression certainly would have if they had responded to losing with strong body language…heads up, voices loud, and physically connected to their teammates.
In the soccer game, the losing team did not drop their heads or shoulders, but simply continued playing seemingly oblivious to time and score. Valuable minutes passed without any palpable urgency, minutes that could have held an equalizing or go ahead goal. In the last segment of play there was a change in body language and a goal followed, but too late to salvage a result.
Body language is an integral part of sports psychology, and must be trained as a muscle or tactical set would be to maximize it’s potential to effect the outcome of a game.