During these times of uncertainty and vulnerability, athletes and coaches globally are unable to follow their usual routines to train and coach. Our focus needs to shift and adjust to a “new normal” nowadays. With that said, we need to train our minds more than we normally do. If you have not done so already, now is a great time to start.
Athletes of all sports train the brain at the highest level. Visualization and positive self-talk are important skills for athletes to possess. Training the mind is just as crucial as training the physical body, especially on the beach.
Olympic Swimming Gold Medalists Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky and Body Building Champion Arnold Schwarzenegger have accredited visualization with helping them reach their achievements. Michael has said, “One of the things that has been good for me, I think, besides training, has been my mental preparation.”
As these professionals visualize their goals, beach soccer players should do the same. While you are at your respective homes, train the mind by visualizing a specific part of the game. Arnold Schwarzenegger relatedly states, “It’s the same process I used in bodybuilding: What you do is create a vision of who you want to be – and then live that picture as if it were already true.”
Remember to visualize every detail you can and feel the process. Visualize scoring on a bicycle kick, as you push the ball down into the sand and feel the amount of pressure on the ball of your foot. Your toes slide under the ball and feel the sand glide around your foot. As you lift the ball, feel the wind blowing and your muscles contracting while keeping your balance. Then, keeping your eyes on the ball you jump into the air and your legs swing in a bicycle motion. Landing softly on your back, you see the ball go into the upper right corner of the goal!
“I have goals and I visualize things to help me achieve those goals… I know what stroke should feel like at different parts of the race, and I can just kind of picture that in my mind.” As Katie Ledecky mentions here, her mind is trained to know every inch of the pool, and the same can be done for beach soccer.
During these times of shelter in place protocols, we must continue to think positive and stay healthy. Not only practice visualization, but make sure to take care of your mind. Give yourself time to breathe and reflect how you are feeling.
Always remember why you enjoy beach soccer and hold onto that feeling. We will return to the beach and enjoy those memories again, but until that time comes, stay positive and continue to train the mind.