Does Passion and Intensity Really Help Soccer Players Win?


Do these pregame soccer huddles actually help? – (Photo:

During the pregame rituals of most sports, a sort of tribal occurrence takes place.  Players begin jumping up and down, often within a tight circle, getting one another riled up and building up an intense passion for the athletic display forthcoming.  But while such antics make sense in the more physical games like football, where players tackle one another to the ground, in soccer perhaps a more relaxed approach is actually the better route…

The problem with getting too amped up for soccer is that the sport requires so much skill and precision.  That over-excitement is liable to lead to mistakes and errors.  Kicking the ball too hard to a teammate will make it hard for them to control the ball.  Likewise dribbling too hard will put the ball out of your reach or cause you to trip over your feet as you speed out of control!  Such actions will occur if you are too pumped up for the game and is often seen during major matches and cup finals.  Nerves rattle even the most effective players and they begin to make careless errors, especially in the early goings of a game.  Remember, soccer players are real people (not FIFA characters whose skill is defined by a number) and their emotions can affect them greatly.

The best soccer players are unaffected by the occasion and don’t get too excited for anything.  They keep their cool and go about their game the same way they always do.  A good example of such a player is Mesut Ozil.  While his cool head often prevails and enables him to make incredible nifty passing and assists, his overly calm demeanor often has critics claiming that he doesn’t care enough or play with enough passion.  Perhaps there is something to passionate performances?  The emotional Italians have had their fair share of success over the years…

Passion can rouse a team towards the end of games.  It comes when a team scores a sensational goal to get back into a match.  It comes when players defend with every bit of energy and courage to hold onto a slim margin for victory.  This is when that extra burst will make the difference in chasing down an opponent or loose ball.  How can teams best utilize this last-ditch passion that so often decides a match?

For a coach it begins at halftime.  While many soccer matches endure boring first half displays, the second part of the game is where the action begins and the game is decided.  If you want to get players riled up, halftime is your time to shine.  Also, during the second half you need to be urging your players on to keep up their spirits and their fight.  Games are determined by who is winning at the end of the game.  Therefore, save your passionate urgencies for this time.  Players should look to each other during these times for inspiration, and this is where true leaders and captains are born.  So when you are gearing up for a big game, try to relax at the start and get comfortable on the ball.  The end of the game is where you need your passionate play to shine!


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