Are Great Soccer Players Born? Part 3

In this three-part series started on Thursday, Oct. 27th in the post “Are Great Soccer Players Born,” we have been discussing the idea that great players are not, in fact, “born that way,” but come from a combination of elements that allow proper development.

We have been exploring the five key ingredients that assist in developing great soccer players, which include:
1) A developed and intense love of the game
2) A burning desire and obsession to improve
3) Appropriate practice
4) Appropriate coaching / mentorship
5) Imagination, self belief / confidence

In my last two posts, I covered the details of the first four elements.  Today we will discuss Imagination, self belief / confidence.

Imagination, self belief / confidence:
Imagination is a key element to a player’s success on and off the field. It’s important that players form visions of game day scenarios or scenes that they have not yet been a part of to prepare for those events in the future. To assist players in painting these pictures, get them watching as much soccer as possible. By watching the game, they will establish role models to emulate. We must guide our children to dream big and diminish all perceived limitations.

Along with Imagination the great performers have an abundance of self belief and confidence that has been developed and channeled appropriately. Having self-confidence is crucial to achieving great things as it influences players in all that they do.  Confident people have faith in themselves and their abilities. Confidence is an integral element to success.  It can be learned, and just like riding a bike, it can become a habit in young people, if harnessed appropriately by adults.

It is crucial that we foster self-esteem in our children. There is a direct link between self-confidence and skill development; you cannot have one without the other. Here are some tips on how to cultivate self-confidence in your players and children:

1. Take a genuine interest in your child’s involvement in soccer. This can often mean more than praise.
2. Help your child establish realistic, achievable goals and support them on their journey to attaining them.
3. Focus on your child’s/player’s strengths.
4. When discussing an issue or a problem, avoid bringing up past difficulties.
5. Help the child become an independent thinker.
6. Place your players in challenging and appropriate learning environments.
7. Mistakes are not only inevitable, they can also be beneficial – they are part of any learning experience. Use mistakes as an opportunity to teach and assist.
8. Maintain a record of the player’s soccer successes. This is a valuable tool to demonstrate progress, and can aid in development if the player is in a “rut.”
9. Communicate your confidence in the child and in her future.
10. Find aspects of positivity in a player’s behavior or performance, even if he/she was not successful. It is important to recognize direction, not perfection.
11. Never communicate disappointment to your child. The disappointment of an adult may be too great a burden for a child to carry.

What do you do to build your player’s self-confidence?  What do you think of this series – are there other elements that play a factor in developing great players?

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