How many of us have ever played too hesitantly on the soccer field? It’s a common problem that doesn’t seem to have an apparent solution. Coaches yell, attempt to motivate and encourage, and nothing changes. As players, we tell ourselves “it’ll be different next game, I’m gonna go after it,” but nothing changes. Why? Because nothing changes unless we do the work to make a change.

It’s time to take a systematic approach to becoming a more aggressive soccer player. With these 3 steps and a follow through on the mindset exercises, you’ll be playing more aggressively as soon as you start building new habits.

  1. Clarity – You have to know what you’re best at in every common situation you get into in you’re position. Can you name you’re go-to skills and techniques in a 1v1 situation? 2v1? 1v2, etc? If not start by writing out these scenarios and what exactly you will do when you get in them.  
  2. Confidence – It doesn’t matter how well you know yourself and what your go-to skills and techniques are if you aren’t confident in them. Do you believe you can execute your best techniques on anyone? If not, it’s time to start building confidence in them by increasing your competence in them. You become more competent at a move by practicing it more. Here the exercise is to commit to extra reps. Get specific with the areas you’re not confident in. Maybe you hesitate to go for tackles, maybe its your dribbling, or your ability to make a good run. Determine the areas where you don’t believe in yourself and make a firm commitment to executing extra reps outside of practice to increase your competence in those situations- therefore increasing your confidence that you CAN compete with the best of them. Write down what exactly you’re going to work on, how many extra reps a week, when, where, with who- get specific with it. Make it hard for you to backdown on your commitment. It starts with writing down the specifics. Take it a step further by telling a trusted friend about your commitment and asking them to hold you accountable to following through long-term.
  3. Aggressiveness – The last step is to actually take action- start playing your role on the soccer field aggressively. Even when we’re clear and confident in our abilities, sometimes there’s still a fear in games of making mistakes. There are different causes for this and different ways to combat it but here we’ll talk about one- perfectionism. Have you ever seen a perfect soccer player, who never makes mistakes?  Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar maybe? Nope, they’re not perfect. A perfect player (or person for that matter) doesn’t exist on this side of heaven. Strive for mastery in the way you practice, but don’t be afraid of falling short in games. If it happens, learn from it and move on.

To increase aggressiveness, shift your focus from worrying about mistakes to playing your role with full effort and aggressiveness. Set process goals for yourself to make it easier to start taking more chances. For example- set an in game goal to attack the ball every time it’s in your third or take opposing players on at every opportunity. Stop fearing mistakes, they’re a necessary part of the process of improving. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not taking enough chances.

Put these mindset exercises into practice and you’ll be 3 steps closer to consistently playing aggressive soccer!