All sports make physical and mental demands of athletes, and soccer is no different. Your mentality and ability to take on a leadership role will ensure not only your individual performance, but the performance of the team.
There are many different leadership styles, but when it comes to athletics, it is best to lead by example. When a player in a position of leadership leads by example, they set a high standard for the rest of the team and provide a role model for other players. Leading by example also fosters respect amongst the team. Players are more inclined to follow after someone who works as hard as they can for the betterment of the team. Communication on and off the field is the key to building morale, trust, and a sense of togetherness amongst the team. This cohesion will translate into how the team performs during matches.
A positive, focused mentality goes a long way in the game of soccer and should be maintained at all times: during preseason, trainings, warmup, games and recovery. Learn how to accept criticism without negativity. Don't dwell on mistakes – learn from them and move forward.
Positivity should also filter through all communications and body language on and off the field. Leaders should never be overly critical of teammates, but offer constructive criticism, provide motivation and reward hard work. In regards to body language, top players project confidence and strength with the way they hold themselves – shoulders back, chest and head up high.
With a positive mentality, you will be more prepared to step out of your comfort zone both mentally and physically. Learning a new skill comes from continuous practice and increasing the difficulty level as you practice. This is a very difficult process, but the right mentality makes it much easier!
Images courtesy of Nike Academy.