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6 winning tips to play like a Euros football player

6 winning tips to play like a Euros football player

4 min read
  • Sport psychology

Set to be the biggest women’s European sport event ever, the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 will be contested between 6 and 31 July in England with 15 other nations joining the hosts. It is the second time England have staged the competition – the first time, in 2005, Germany triumphed.

Here at InnerDrive, we have been discussing some of the sport psychology themes we think will show throughout the Euros tournament and our top tips for performing at your best if these happen to you, too!

So, what do players need to perform at their best?

Playing with confidence

Confidence has consistently been shown to be one of the key distinguishing factors of successful footballers. And thankfully, it can be developed.

Research has shown that elite youth footballers gained the most confidence from reflecting on past experiences of overcoming adversity or the mastery of a skill. When footballers play with confidence, they often want to receive the ball and try things they normally wouldn’t. This is also seen as a key part of developing resilience. Check out our blog which looks further into how we can build confidence

Pre-performance routines

Before a match, players can start to feel what’s commonly described as “butterflies in their stomach”. But what can be done about this?

Research has suggested  that a pre-performance routine can help settle nerves before a match. They can reduce experiences of anxiety by organising helpful thoughts and actions into a systematic order, providing the footballer with the ideal mindset to perform well. Why not prepare with our blog on what to think about the night before a match?

Coping with stress

In high profile football, coping with stress is a compulsory requirement for success. For sporting events like the Euros, players will have to develop a range of different psychological strategies to deal with having the weight of a nation on their shoulders. One of our top tips: see stress as a challenge rather than as a threat.

Create a game plan

In our blog about how to win a final, one of the top tips we shared was to create a clear but flexible game plan.

When athletes feel unsure of what to do, they can become anxious or stressed. Hope is a poor strategy. Developing pre-prepared game plans often helps alleviate some of these feelings.

That said, athletes do need to bear in mind that no game plan is ever fault-proof. All eventualities cannot be planned for and in some cases, they will need to be flexible to ensure that their approach best fits the needs of the situation. There is a thin line between having a clear vision and sticking stubbornly to an idea that isn’t working.

Play to win

Athletes sometimes fall into the trap of playing to not lose instead of playing to win, as they fear failure too much. However, the best athletes have developed strategies to help themselves with this.

One of the most common strategies they use is to question their fear – often, athletes find themselves worrying about the worst-case scenario for no logical reason. Therefore, by questioning this irrationality and encouraging yourself to think clearly, you can protect yourself against fearing the worst.

Focus on what you can control

Concentrating on aspects of performance that you cannot change can make you nervous and stressed. Therefore, it is essential that you accept certain situations that you have no influence over and instead place all your focus into controlling the controllables. This will offer you a sense of certainty and confidence.

Train your mind as well as your body. Unlock your full potential with sport psychology coaching.

Is there a home advantage for England?

A question we often get asked is whether there is such a thing as home advantage. Well, a quick look at the history books suggests that when it comes to major tournaments, home teams tend to do quite well.

Uruguay (1930), Italy (1934), Spain (1964), England (1966), Italy (1968) West Germany (1974), Argentina (1978), and France (1984 and 1998) have all won when hosting the World Cup or European Championship.

The history of the UEFA Women’s Euros shows that Norway (1987), West Germany (1989), Germany (2001), and the Netherlands in the last finals held in 2017 all won on home turf. So, if home teams do perform better, why might that be the case?

  • Better referee decisions for the home team
  • Better and more effort when attacking
  • Feeling familiar in their home environment
  • Players assert authority at their home ground and defend their territory.

However, this is only a trend, not a done deal. So, we will have to see how this year’s tournament plays out for England!

Final thoughts

In a tournament as big as the Euros, with high stress and nerves, players need to use top techniques to perform to their best when it really counts. Although home advantage may be seen at times, teams should strive to work together, thinking about what they need to do well and focus only on what matters to give them the best chance of playing well regardless of the grounds.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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