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You will never solve an inner game struggle with an outer game solution

You are going to be working even harder in training yet still not seeing results

Your muscles start to tighten, your vision starts to narrow and you are praying you don’t see the ball again anytime soon

Sitting in a changing room before the game you are filled with doubt and running through your head

“What if I lose a header?”

“I hope I don’t lose a header today”

The whistle blows and within the first two minutes their goalkeeper has the ball in his hands

You know how they play

In the next 10 seconds this ball will be falling from the sky with snow on it

“I hope he doesn’t kick it on me”

He goes to throw it right and you take a deep breath

You’re thinking “I got away with one there”

Then at the last second your winger cuts out the angle the goalkeeper stops and then laces it down the field

“Oh shit”

“I hope this isn’t heading in my direction”

“Fuck it is, here it comes”

“I hope I don’t lose this!”

“Is he going to jump or hold me off?”

“Can I out jump him?”

“Do I need to jump”

“Can I outmuscle him?”

Your head is going at 100mph

Too late your caught under it and your 65% effort in not losing the header has resulted in you losing out

Flick on, striker runs through and its 1 zip

You start to panic, what little confidence you did have is now replaced with panic

You can hear “fucking beat him” as your manager throws his arms in the air

Not only do you think the manager is raging with you, you can also hear the rage of the crowd

Worst of all the opposition now knows the striker has the beating off you and so do you

You want the ground to swallow you up

Your muscles start to tighten, your vision starts to narrow and you are praying you don’t see the ball again anytime soon

You become anxious and even the thought of something as simple as taking a touch makes you doubt yourself

Oh man… 88 minutes to go

“How will I get through this? I hope I don’t make another mistake.”

The next 88 minutes feel like an absolute eternity

The final whistle goes and you go into the changing room to dodge bullets and worry about fans on social media and what the newspapers will say the next day

Forget the newspapers before they are released you have your agent and those watching you at the game to deal with

Its a nightmare that you can’t seem to stop and will be thinking about until the next match a week later

So what do you do?

The obvious answer is to go onto the training field and work harder at your heading, but is that really the answer?

Your heading isn’t the problem here, you are

Go work on your heading 24/7 for the next 6 months, will you get better at it? Of course you will

The problem is you will still lose headers no matter how strong you are in the air

What I have described above is an inner game struggle not an outer game

Your struggles started well before losing that header

If losing a header still fills you with fear or you don’t have a system in place for dealing with losing a header

You are going to be working even harder in training yet still not seeing results

As for your confidence and beliefs, they feel like they are growing until you lose your next header

From there they become even worse than before

It’s a spiral that you just can’t seem to stop

You will never solve an inner game struggle with an outer game solution

Stop the spiral by starting to work on your inner game

JJ

Its a nightmare that you can’t seem to stop and will be thinking about until the next match a week later

By John Johnstone 30th April 2019

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