One Easy Trick to Help Your Soccer Team Be More Aggressive!

Virtually every single top-level soccer team employs a professional sports psychologist. There is a reason for this. Soccer is clearly not just about lightning speed, laser precision, and lion strength. Many studies have provided evidence that players’ mindset has a profound impact on performance. Psychologists have pointed out many tricks our mind plays on us when we are living the excitement and pressure of stepping out on the soccer pitch. This article draws on one such insight, prospect theory, which can show you how to turn your team from nervous gazelles into aggressive cheetahs in a single huddle.
What exactly is prospect theory? In a simplified sense, it tells us that human brains perceive losses much more intensely than gains. Players like winning, sure, but they hate losing much more intensely. What is more, the smaller the difference between winning and losing, the more the goals matter. Think about it. You are tied 1-1 and the opponent scores. Somehow, this goal hurts much more than if you were losing 2-1 and the opponent scores. In the same way, if you are tied and you score, you will celebrate that goal much more than if you are winning and you score again.
But how does this knowledge help your team actually win? That’s where the secret lies. It turns out that prospect theory tells us that in the domain of losses, people welcome risk. In contrast, in the domain of gains, people run away from it. Coaches can expect their players to engage in more aggressive plays when they are losing and play more conservatively than usual when they are winning. They must therefore acknowledge these behaviors and take them into account when designing a strategy. With this information, coaches can strike the right balance in player attitudes to achieve the win.
For example, if a team is losing 3-0, natural human behavior will dictate that players may become careless about defense and attack with a sense of urgency in order to catch up. This may result in digging themselves deeper into the hole, because as the score itself may be showing, their defense might not have been that strong in the first place! When coaches find their team trailing, they should emphasize defense to their players more than they normally would. Opposite, when they find themselves winning, they would be smart to over-emphasize aggressive attacks, since their teams will be more likely to play it safe.
Coaches could also look at the way they frame their pep talks. If you want your team to play more aggressively, emphasize the possible loss. Instead of saying “Protect our lead”, say instead “don’t let them catch up!” The team will respond with increased energy. If you want your players to be more conservative, tell them to “concentrate on getting more goals” instead of “make sure they don’t score”. Remember, emphasizing loss gets you aggressive players, emphasizing gains gets you conservative players.
Want your team to participate in tournaments around your city and use this secret weapon? Join ESP! Using our free online platform, you could challenge other teams to a pick-up game or a full tournament, it’s up to you. If you are a player in need of a team, you can browse the teams and ask to join one. If you are a team missing a player, you can do that too! What matters is that people get to playing soccer, because it’s healthy, it’s fun, and even lets you work your brain! Enjoy!

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