Summer is slowly starting to show its unfamiliar face round these parts, and that can only mean one thing – everyone is about to go 5-a-side crazy!
Whilst the clued up among us are already sold on the fact that 5-a-side is a better game to play than the full 11-a-side version, there are a lot of players who will be rolling off the full sized pitches and playing the smaller version of the game to keep fit over the off-season.
If you haven’t yet got a team together for summer, stop reading this article at once and get into action putting one together. If you’ve got no idea where to start, we’ve got a handy post giving you all the details on where to begin. If you’ve already got your rag-tag band of misfits together then of course, please continue reading.
When the big games come calling…
With big games coming up, whether in cup or league competitions, we thought it would be useful to share a little tip to help you avoid collapsing when it really matters.
Have you ever been eagerly anticipating a big game, making it the focus of your week, only to step onto the pitch and feel weak and lethargic, like you’ve got nothing to give? It’s something that has happened to me before and I couldn’t always understand why – I’d focused so much on the game that I was sure my preparation couldn’t be better. I slept well, I was well hydrated, and I had eaten a decent meal in advance of the game.
I stumbled across the cause of this problem when I was reading one of Dan Abraham’s books last year and it was like a light bulb suddenly went on!
“Who is Dan Abrahams?”, some of you are asking yourselves. He’s one of the best known football psychologists around and, not only has he worked with loads of professional football players, but he’s also written two excellent books for the likes of the amateur player.
For more information on him, see the earlier interview we did in July last year – there are a lot of solid psychological tips that you can use in your 5-a-side this summer.
Anyway, back to the book, it suggested that the answer to my problem is that I was in fact focusing too much on the big game coming up. It was something that I was keen to ask Dan about in more detail – here’s what he told me:
“The brain and nervous system can’t tell the difference between what is real and what is imagined. So if you spend the morning of a big game thinking about how you are going to play then your nervous system will start to release adrenaline too early. This exhausts stores and you come to kick off and you feel tired. I say to my players that they shouldn’t think about the game until 2 hours prior to playing. Relax in the morning and take your mind away from the match. This is the same for an evening kick off – and it’s what makes morning games that much easier.”
That’s the problem that I was having. All the nervous energy was sapping me and leaving me drained; just a shell of a man by the time the game came round. Instead, I’d have been better taking my mind of it altogether.
I wonder how many of the international teams at the World Cup this summer will be putting this advice into practice – Roy Hodgson, England coach, please take note.
A summer of tournaments
Speaking of Tournaments, it’s not just the World Cup that’s should be on your radar this summer. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in some big tournament action yourself.
There are some big prizes on offer in the UK 5-a-side tournaments. Already this year teams have won all expenses paid trips to Dubai and Brazil courtesy of big tournament wins, and there are still trips to Ibiza and England tickets to play for too. Whether you’re playing at a top level or not, there’s plenty of competition to keep you busy – so why not head over to our tournament page if you want a piece of the action.
By the way, we only started our tournament page a couple of months ago, but it has proved popular with organisers and players so thanks for all of your support. We’ve posted well over 20 tournaments on there this year and there will be more yet to come. If you know of a tournament that should be on there, or want to advertise your own (completely free!) get in touch!
Coming back to Dan Abrahams – if you didn’t read his original interview the first time round, it’s well worth a look. It even contains some tips for playing successfully in tournaments.
Since we interviewed Dan last year he has started publishing more blog posts, all containing bite-sized little pep-talks that will teach you something about psychology for football which, as we’ve previously said, is one of the 4 areas you need to focus on to improve your game.
It’s well worth checking out his site and subscribing to his blog if you want to receive more of his tips by email. And whilst you’re at it, make sure you’ve signed up for our blog too (just put your email in on the link below) – there is some good stuff coming this summer!
Other posts you might enjoy:
Interview with Dan Abrahams – as mentioned in the post above. Lots of tips from the man himself, specifically for 5-a-side players.
Control your anger and enjoy your football – don’t lose your cool on the pitch this summer
The incredible power of sleep for sports – one reason you might not be at your best on the pitch is lack of sleep. It could be hurting you more than you realise…