Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Mind Matters
by Christen Press, August 1st, 2013 10:44PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ
TAGS:  americans abroad, sweden, women's national team

MOST COMMENTED

[THE PITCH: Blog 13] A sports psychologist once asked me to complete a simple task. He held out his index finger and said, “focus on my finger for one minute.” I directed my eyes to his finger and told myself, “OK, that’s his finger… that’s his finger… that’s his finger, I wonder why he wants me to focus on his finger? Christen! … that’s his finger … that’s his … which part of his finger am I supposed to be focusing on?” His smug smile confirmed that he made his point. It’s impossible. “Focusing,” he said, “is the process of constantly refocusing.”



I’ve returned to the blog after a month-long hiatus from writing … during which we played and tied our rival Damallsvenskan team Malmö, and I attended U.S. national team camp where we played South Korea and Abby Wambach broke the all-time scoring record. I went home to California for three weeks, then returned to Sweden for “pre-second-half-of-the-season” which consisted of training while traveling to watch teammates and friends compete in the  Euros ... well ... I digress ... My point here is ... I'm back !!! I think it is only appropriate to dedicate this blog to refocusing.

Vedic meditation demonstrates the same point as the focus-on-my-finger task. While you try in vain to focus on your mantra, distractors -- impeding thoughts -- creep in and fight for your attention. The point of meditation is to accept these sometimes-stressful thoughts, and by mere acknowledgment and active refocusing, you can strip them of their power to dictate your life. I have been practicing Vedic meditation for 18 months now, and only recently realized its massive implication to my sport.   Long ago, I recognized the importance for me to make performance goals – goals that compare me to only me -- rather than outcome goals -- goals that compare me to others. Performance goals are in my control. Focusing on the things I can control is where I thought I could find my mental strength.



So, on the field, when I start to hear the self-doubt in my head that stems from outcome goal anxiety -- if I don’t score, [fill in the blank] is going to outscore me or take my spot -- I get angry at myself and begin the self chastising. I begin by yelling, "Don’t think about this, Christen!” In the middle of all this cacophonous chaos, the game is going on. Perhaps I have lost track of my position on the field, of the ball, or my teammates. Trying to coach myself into positive thinking consumes all of my attention, taking it away from the most important task: soccer.

Yes, of course, I want to think positively about myself, especially during a game. I’d pick confidence as the single most important factor for success. But my mistake is the emotional reaction to my natural stress. By not accepting that sometimes I am simply going to have doubts and worries and by getting angry at myself for this, I give power to the negative, and remain distracted from the goal at hand for longer periods of time.



I thought my mental strength resulted from positive thinking. I was wrong. I thought that if I masked my fear and my frustration with louder positive thoughts, I could trick myself. I was wrong. Like the baby Buddha I try to be during my 20-minute twice-daily meditation, I can bring this mindfulness onto the field. Repression is not the answer. Acceptance is. My power as an athlete will grow from maximizing my refocusing speed, the same way as my power as a person. Negative thought in my meditation? Deep breath, get back to my mantra. Negative thought in my game? Deep breath, get back in the game!


3 comments
  1. Emile Jordan
    commented on: August 2, 2013 at 10:48 a.m.
    Christen, like your focus story. I coach 10 year old boys and challenging them mentally is a constant learning process for me. I have a player whose twin brother made a higher team and he is always doubting himself despite being able to learn and play pretty well. I have been challenging him to think positive and be confident he will conquer his failures, but attention to himself and personal improvement will now be a more important part of my communication with him. Thank you.
  1. Allan Lindh
    commented on: August 2, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.
    Dear Ms Press, you never cease to amaze -- and without all the Phil Jackson BS. You write better than he does also -- thanks.
  1. James Madison
    commented on: August 5, 2013 at 6:17 p.m.
    Hi Christen: During the time since your last blog, you have not lost your wonderful touch!!

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
U.S. Abroad: Mercy asked for Chandler after red card    
Timmy Chandler could be looking at an early Christmas as he was red carded in Eintracht ...
What They're Saying: Leonardo Santiago    
"We have the MLS rights throughout central and north Florida, so any discussion of another franchise ...
MLS Cup Countdown: 'Amazing night' expected    
Saturday's MLS Cup shapes up as one of the best in league history with arguably the ...
Coaching: New NSCAA course on LGBT Inclusion     
The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) has launched a free online course to help ...
What They're Saying: Don Garber    
"If you could wave a magic wand and not have to address things like: What do ...
MLS Moves: 'Caps re-sign Hurtado, renew 11 options     
A day after announcing it had declined the option on midfielder Pedro Morales, Vancouver finalized its ...
TV: Fox Sports will air MLS Cup in VR    
For the first time since its launch in 1996, MLS will not air its final on ...
Video Pick: Bundesliga goalkeeper bloopers    
As part of its annual advent calendar series, Bundesliga YouTube presents the Top 10 most "catastrophic" ...
U.S. Abroad: Bob Bradley to critics: 'Hit the road'    
With just one win and five points in seven games as Swansea City's manager, Bob Bradley ...
Soccer in December in Toronto -- who'd have thought?    
It may surprise a lot of people to realize that Seattle is farther north than Toronto. ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives