Planning what you will do in an upcoming soccer game is relatively easy. However, you cannot account for how the game plays out.
Most people can stay calm during training even if they are playing a practice game, but things are different when playing a game.
So, here’s how to keep calm throughout the soccer game.
- Scan the field.
- Absorb valuable information.
- Know and understand your position.
- Get comfortable on the ball.
- Learn how to shield the ball.
- Learn simple skills.
There is a lot more to it than that. Further down in the article, I will explain each of those points. Before I do that, there are vital questions that I want to answer.
Why Do You Get Nervous Before A Soccer Game?
The common reason why you would get nervous before a soccer game is stage fright. It is the fear of performing in front of people, and even if you play in front of a small crowd, perhaps even your parents and their friends, you might be nervous.
Another common reason could be that you are overthinking the game.
This problem often goes away with time. The more games you play, the more used to it you become. However, if you want to speed up that process, the best thing to do is not think about it.
How To Calm Your Nerves Before A Soccer Game
- Understand why you are there: Look, there is a reason why you are playing the soccer game in the first place. The people who chose the team believe in your abilities.
- Speak to your coach: Ask your coach what they want from you in this game. Often, understanding what is needed from you can take away a lot of anxiety. It can also help you avoid mistakes.
- Everyone makes mistakes: If you are scared that you will mess up and let your team down, it is essential to remember that everyone makes mistakes. That said, it does not mean you will make mistakes. You might just be overthinking things.
- Ensure that you get enough sleep: Your brain can overthink things if you don’t sleep enough. Not sleeping enough can limit your brain function. A well-rested mind has a sharper train of thought, and instead of worrying about what you will do wrong in the game, you might think about what you will do right.
Why You Can’t Stay Calm During A Soccer Game
There can be several reasons that we cannot account for. However, in most cases where someone struggles to stay calm during a soccer game, they are put under constant pressure by the opponent, even if they don’t know it.
If you feel like you have an opponent on you every time you receive the ball and have nowhere to go, you are not reading the game correctly.
I suggest that you read our six tips to stay calm.
6 Ways To Stay Calm Throughout A Soccer Game
In this section, you will notice that my steps are designed to help you stay calm on and off the ball.
Scan The Field
The most efficient players in the world have mastered the skill of scanning the field. It helps you stay calm because the more you know about what is happening, the less you can be surprised.
Kevin De Bruyne (KDB) from Belgium is one of the best midfielders the world has seen in decades. His vision and awareness are unmatched; a big part of that is his scanning.
You want to scan the field after every pass, whether the ball is coming to you or another teammate.
The best players will scan the field approximately six times between each pass. You have to be quick, and while we would like to give you more information, it is a skill you need to work on.
Remember, you want to look in front of you, behind, and, most of all, your blind spots.
Absorb Valuable Information About The Soccer Game
While scanning the field, you want to know what information is most valuable to you and your team. In my experience, helpful information is broken down into four parts. These are:
- Who is the most immediate threat? If you have made a proper scan before receiving the ball, you should know where your opponents are, how much time you have on the ball and what the most appropriate course of action will be.
- What are your teammates doing? After a few bad passes, the pressure can start to build up. So, knowing what your teammates are doing allows you to make better decisions regarding your passing, your runs, and your decision-making.
- What spaces can you push the ball into? Having a defender or two coming towards you can be stressful. However, if you have made the appropriate scan and have absorbed where the best spaces are, you can push the ball into those spaces, giving you more time on the ball and helping you stay calm.
- Do you need to cover or keep pushing? Let’s say you made your appropriate scans before receiving the ball, and during your time on the ball, you made the correct pass. What comes next? Well, if you scan the field correctly, you will know whether or not you should keep attacking with your team or if you need to provide cover.
Understand Your Position And Role On The Soccer Field
Understanding what your job is, based on your position, is critical not only to be a good player but also to help you stay calm throughout the game.
Being caught out of position can cause stress, making the game feel like it is going 1000 mph.
Work on your positional discipline. It is a technique employed by some of the best players in the world, such as Ngolo Kante.
Ngolo is considered the best in his position of this generation and, by some, the best of all time.
Get Comfortable With The Soccer Ball
This might seem rather obvious. However, getting comfortable with the ball is one of the best ways to help you stay calm through a game.
We have spoken in depth about scanning the field, but when you receive the ball, you need to start scanning the ball while keeping your head up. What does this mean?
If you constantly look down at the ball, you won’t see pressure coming toward you. Also, you won’t see what your teammates are doing and where the spaces are.
So, you want to keep your head up as much as possible and only scan the ball when necessary.
Being comfortable on the ball is the best way to get good at this.
Learn How To Shield The Soccer Ball
it does not matter how hard you scan the field. There will be times when you receive the ball and don’t have time.
In situations where you can’t see a path forward and have a defender or two on your tail, the best thing to do is to shield the ball using your body.
A simple technique is to drag the ball back and close to your body to almost underneath your feet. Turn around and make it difficult for the opponent to take the ball without fouling you.
Doing this will give you more time and help you stay calm with the ball until you see a gap.
Learn Simple Skills
Some soccer players might feel that they can transfer them out onto the field because they can do elaborate skills. Trying to do complicated skills can cause the game to feel a lot faster and put you under immense pressure.
If you learn simple skills that don’t take much thought, you will free space to focus on other things such as analyzing the spaces, looking for the best pass, and overall keeping calm during the game.
Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.