Stop approaching your sport as a spectator! Each person involved has their own role: players play, coaches coach, administrators administrate, referees ref, parents parent, etc.

Know your role – You are a player, an athlete, a participant. This means you must think like a participant, not as a coach, not as an administrator, and certainly not as a fan.

Most athletes have never experienced being a coach or administrator; however, most of us have experience being a fan. We’ve watched soccer on tv in the World Cup, or at a college game, or even at games that some of our friends or siblings are competing in. Because we’ve been exposed to soccer from a fan’s point of view, the “fan mentality” is difficult for us athletes to shake. 

Fans talk about the importance of the game, streaks, wins, losses, upsets, records, predictions, rankings, and war stories of individuals. They spend countless hours watching television, listening to radio, reading articles on the internet, participating in forums, debates, gambling, etc. etc.

We learn all about stats and what indicators to look for in teams and individuals so we can win bets. We know all the stories about guys on our favorite teams and past records. We figure out stories and streaks so we have things to talk about while watching these games with our friends. 

We learn very quickly how to become a great fan.

What we do not learn is how to think like an athlete. We just kind of sit back and hope it happens to us. We should be proactive in this process. 

Sport Psychology and common sense teaches you to focus on things you can control and stop worrying about things you cannot. When you compete, you cannot think about the stories, and records, and kill ratio, etc. You need to stop looking at the newspaper, predictions, forums, and rankings. 

Many people say that these things do not affect them, so they can still be a competitor and fan at the same time. If that is the case, I challenge you to think of past poor performances. Think of at least 3 of them. What were you thinking before and during the competition? If anything had to do with how good or bad your opponent was, this is partly a result of getting involved in the hype. Walk away when friends and teammates start talking about the sport as spectators. Do not let that garbage into your mind. 

The “fan mentality” is a difficult habit to break. This will take active work on your part, but the results are well worth it. Stop caring what other people think of you, how they will view your performance, what this all means, records, rankings, predictions, streaks, and stories. Read a book on technique or mindset instead of box scores and newspaper articles. Start thinking like a participant. Destroy your “fan mentality,” and live in your own reality!

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