Playing Under Pressure

This is a post from the Soccer Fit Academy. It is from Missy Geha, SoccerFIT Academy trainer. Her post reflects her thoughts on a recent article from

Most young soccer players react in the same way as the professionals do in tight games. One would think after playing for so many years that keeping composure and staying focused would come naturally. After reading this article, we find that even the best players in the country struggle to make plays in tight games.

Keeping composure and making plays at crucial times throughout the duration of a game comes down to what? Some say soccer is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. You must keep your head in the game. When you lose your focus, you lose composure.

Many will say that losing focus and making mistakes at critical points during a game are based off fatigue. Many mistakes are made at crucial points when one team is physically fitter than the other and can make big plays late in the game. This is even true when technical teams play more physically fit and athletic teams. I have experienced this as a player. I have played for technical teams as well as physical and athletic teams and have won and lost in both situations.

What we need to find are those teams that are both technically savvy with the ball and physically fitter than the rest. This is where training outside practice is extremely beneficial.

While being technically suave on the ball plays a key factor in being a successful soccer player (along with all the other tactical aspects as well), you must be able to move your body. You must be able to move on and off the ball in a quick, explosive and athletic manner. Not only this, but you must be able to repeat this pace throughout a 90-minute game. We did a study a few years ago looking at about what point in a grueling conditioning workout the player lost focus and made a mistake. With our fitter players (who could keep their heart rate down during the drill) lasted longer than those that allowed their heart rate (and fatigue) to creep up to near maximal levels. So one might assume that the fitter you are the more focused you will be late in games. Make sense?

Take a look at our fall pre and post tests. Soccer FIT athletes have progressed immensely over the course of our 12 week program. They came out faster, fitter and more explosive. This is key in playing under pressure in big games and also for making plays late in a game. Becoming a better soccer player relies both on focus & drive during practice as well as dedication & commitment outside of practice.

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