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Learn How to View Mistakes Through the Lense of Feedback

Are you highly self-critical?

Do you tally up your mistakes or relive mistakes after a soccer match?

Being hypercritical after an unsatisfactory game is a habit for many soccer players, which leads to performance stagnation.

For example, a Division I collegiate soccer player asked the following question:

“After a bad game, I am devastated. I constantly think of every mistake I make, but I repeat the same mistakes in the next game. How can I overcome this cycle?”

Let’s examine the cycle for a moment. After a bad game, you pick apart your performance and highlight everything you did wrong. 

Those perceived mistakes overshadow anything you did well. In fact, you are blind to any positives. 

You feel bad about yourself as an athlete. You see yourself as not good enough. You lose your motivation to improve and half-heartedly go through the next week of practice with no purpose. 

Then next game, you play with shattered confidence and continue making the same mistakes.

How can you change your situation?

When you evaluate your performance, you should still identify the areas you need to improve. However, it would help if you did not gloss over the aspects of your game that you performed at a high level.

For example, you may have given up the ball in your defensive end, which led to open shots for your opponents. However, you made some stellar plays by hustling on the defensive end and blocked potential shots on goal.

Identifying your mistakes is valuable. You can avoid similar mistakes in future games by working on those mental lapses.

On the other hand, when you criticize yourself for errors and question your abilities, you will not be motivated to improve your game in future training sessions.

After a game, view the totality of your performance. The goal for game evaluation is to maintain confidence and motivation so you can practice with purpose and minimize those mistakes in future games.

During a 2022 NWSL mid-season game, the Washington Spirit gave up a one-goal lead three times to the North Carolina Courage leading to a 3-3 draw. After the game, Washington Spirit defender Kelley O’Hara evaluated her performance.

O’HARA: “Made some mistakes that I wish I could get back but live and learn.”

On the surface, O’Hara’s comments may seem very nonchalant. However, this approach to game evaluation is a sound strategy. By taking ownership of her play, O’Hara recognized areas she could improve and become a better player.

Improvement, confidence, and motivation should be top priorities for every soccer player.

Tip for Learning from Mistakes and Keeping Confidence High:

Embrace a “live and learn” mentality. The “live and learn” strategy focuses on improvement. This mentality views mistakes through the lens of feedback. When you see mistakes as building blocks, you are more likely to maintain high confidence.

Resources for Athletes, Coach, and Sports Parents

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