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Soccer Focus:  Forget About Mistakes

AP Photo/Bret Hartman

If you miss a shot or lose the ball, just forget about it. Easy to say, but sometimes hard to do. And mistakes can be frustrating! It's just not that easy to forget about missing a wide open shot or when you lose the soccer ball near your own goal.

However, the best soccer players keep pushing on and don't dwell on mistakes. If they miss a shot or lose the ball they get right back in the soccer game and look to score again or win the ball right back if they've lost it. The key though is not to do anything rash but calm down and look to make a positive play - say hustle back to cover a player or play a simple pass to get back into the flow of a game. Try to make up for your mistake but don't panic and dive in or get a red card.

When we get frustrated or make a mistake, we sometimes do stupid things. For example, we can make unnecessary fouls (e.g. Beckham against Argentina in the World Cup where he got a red card).

Or we can suffer an injury when we awkwardly try to win the soccer ball, or make an excessively hard tackle out of frustration. It's okay to make a tough tackle – which is a good way to get back into the game! – but just use some common sense when doing so. How would you feel if someone severely injured you out of frustration? You’d be furious! Nobody wants to get hurt, and you certainly don't want to get a red card and get tossed out of the game. That hurts your team.

Remember that we are often our own worst enemies. If we make a mistake, we tend to beat ourselves up about it. Forget about a bad play or mistakes you’ve made and move on. Get right back into the game by winning the ball or blocking a pass or shot. Hard work eliminates our anxiousness. But remember, play within your ability. Not doing so only means you’ll get even more frustrated! If you force things it will only make things worse. Instead, take a deep breath, calm yourself, and then get back into the game.

Lift Up Your Teammates

Keep your teammates in mind too. If you see that someone is frustrated, trying too hard, or just not playing well, try to boost his or her confidence and increase their and the team's morale. Sometimes, a kind word, a pat on the back, or any other encouraging behavior can do wonders for someone’s esteem. You can do this simply by talking to them and supporting them at all times. It’s especially important to communicate when the team starts to get quiet or fearful - say your losing the game and the other team has control of the ball most of the time.


Since there are so few goals scored in soccer, momentum is crucial. A team can get bummed when a goal is scored on them, but on the same token, they can be very happy when they score a goal. These moments are extremely emotional but scarce and can change the pace of a soccer game. In fact, many coaches and experts say that the first five minutes of each half, and the first five minutes after a goal is scored are some of the most important ticks of the clock.

Teams that get scored on fall back on their heels and frequently give up another goal because their collective confidence is down. Conversely, though, teams that score a goal feel energized, and pounce on teams that are feeling stunned after allowing a goal. An excellent example of playing as a team with confidence is Manchester United. They seem to always score goals in the dying minutes, when it appears like the game is lost and over. This is a team that plays hard to the final whistle. This is a team that forgets about mistakes and thinks they can always win the game if if they are behind within only a few minutes to go and the ref keeps looking at his watch.

TIP: Get into a rhythm--let the game come to you. It's balance between seeking the ball out and making runs to open up the defense.

Learn more about mental focus in soccer at the pages below...

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