Congested fixture schedules and high training loads are always challenging and at the elite level of the game seen as normal practice.
Soccer players & coaches have to deal with many obstacles and failures throughout their careers irrespective of their level of play, BUT are they prepared for it?
Do we as coaches, fitness trainers, medical practitioners or performance coaches ingrain the capability and capacity with our players or staff to navigate or move through difficult periods?
Additionally, do we develop our sessions to recreate difficult situations and pressurised environments in order to be able cope with uncomfortable situations?
Losing games, the pressure of performing 1 or 2 times per week, transfers to different countries, exposure to different cultures, different playing systems, being played out of position, being injured (short & long term), family issues away from the game, time management issues, mixing studies with training, peer pressure to succeed, parental & coaching pressure are just a few of the strains coaches & players are faced with…
Resilience is a concept that is suggested to be developed over a longer-period of time when individuals or groups face situations encouraging the need to overcome or deal with adversity.
Development of specific and relative coping strategies to deal with these obstacles, situations or barriers and become a mentally stronger or more resilient individual is the target.
(Fletcher & Sarkar, 2016)
Resilience or ‘mental toughness’ has recently been described as a key psychological aspect of all sports, and is something that all successful individuals possess as they move the process known as;
The ability to continue to drive forward or ‘bounce back’ from a loss, injury or poor performance is crucial to any athlete or soccer player’s success. As much as individuals hate to admit it, failure is a part of the game – and people learn more from failure than success.
Another word that is used within the soccer world to discuss this concept is ‘bouncebackability’.
This has been defined as the ability to recover from bad circumstances or situations, and bounce back!
Discussing the concept further from a soccer specific perspective, resilient individuals and teams have shown the capability to maintain high levels of performance in the face of change, adversity and stress.
An example, would be a team who have lost a number of games in succession, draining of confidence, injury list mounting & then being able to pull through and sustain performance before results return.
The capability of the coaching staff, players & support staff to maintain focus, work rate & subsequent ‘bouncebackability’ or resilience.
When faced with emotional, physical or mental challenges, the pressure to succeed will eventually have a negative impact unless people have the tools to prepare for, adapt to and respond to setbacks.
Recent years have really directed research into this topic of interest & ISSPF are diving deeper into this in order to highlight further the need to develop more resilient functioning individuals & teams.
According to the literature and research, soccer players must face, move through the obstacles and conquer adverse situations in order to become successful and prepare them for future situations.
Early research in this area has described how past history of similar experiences boost self-confidence, which leads to great performance via mental mastery as a learned or coping strategy (Bandura, 1997). Another analogy of this process we may have heard is: “Developing a thicker skin” which furthermore describes how we adapt to difficult scenarios.
The key focus of any resilience development programis for individuals to positively engage, understand, evaluate and interpret various pressures & negativities they encounter, in conjunction with their own resources, thoughts and emotions.
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet (Hamlet)
According to some of these tips provided by leading practitioners in this area, they should not only allow you to think about developing & progressing your players further but also help you in your coaching or performance staff role develop resiliency and challenge yourself further:
The soccer specific literature in this area has identified resilience as a key psychosocial competency that makes a major contribution to a successful transition of players to the professional level (Holt & Dunn, 2004).
There are 3 pivotal time points of resilience development in soccer which you as a coach, practitioner or professional can focus on developing, in order to maximise performance and well-being under difficult situations or circumstances:
There are a number of qualities associated with both building and maintaining resilience through all manners of difficult situations in sport.
Equip yourself with the knowledge to build resilience within your players & yourself, so they can withstand specific mental obstacles and produce a maximum performance on a continuous basis.
Our ISSPF Foundation Certificate in Soccer Psychology & Mental Skills Training is a perfect course to not only learn from world leaders in the area, but also understand the development & application within team sports.
It can also help enhance your role & guidance as a coach, practitioner, performance or medical staff member.
Share this article: