Five Mistakes a Soccer Player Can Make – Part 3

Part 3

They Don’t Set a Goal Before Training

Most players just show up at training ready to work hard.  They do their best to make sure they arrive on time and have all their gear.  Most likely they are wearing the right shoes and have eaten well and hydrated before they arrive at the field. But here’s where the good stuff often comes to end for them at practice; players often assume their coaches will conduct a training session designed to help them individually improve as a player.  They assume the responsibility for their improvement falls exclusively on the shoulders of their coach.  In this way, the player is using an external, and non-controllable variable source of motivation (coach’s training session) in the hopes of fueling their improvements.


But what happens if you are a striker and the coach runs a purely defending practice? Or, what happens if you are a central mid wanting to work on playing to the weak side… and the coach runs a finishing practice?  Or as another example, you need to work on improving your first touch but the coach runs a 1 vs 1 practice?  The best way to make consistent improvements as a player is to create your own motivation and focus by pre-practice goal-setting rather than passing the responsibility for your growth as a player to your coach.


To get the most out of a practice, players have to set a goal for themselves that has positional specific elements and will drive their work on the field.  Setting these skill and position specific goals is way more effective for an individual rather than hoping for their coach will run the perfect session just for them.  If we use the examples above when players want something out of a practice that isn’t obviously there to be had, goal-setting for these players might look like:

  • The striker sets a goal to attack at the front foot of a defender, once he wins the ball
  • The midfield player works on finishing with the inside of her foot so that she is striking the ball like she would along pass
  • The player who wants to work on 1st touch, stays after practice for 10 minutes and works to receive 40 balls out of the air


In this way, the work these players do has meaning for them, is an internal motivation, and is something over which they have control.  A player’s development ultimately is that player’s own responsibility.

If you would like to find out which two effective mental training tools thrive uses with our clients to help players maximize their training time, email, text, or message me for either of the two mental training exercises on effective goal-setting for practice listed below:

  • Goal-Setting for Practice
  • Forget About Setting Goals the Old Way


Thanks for reading!

Derrek Falor

Certified Sport Psychology Consultant at Thrive
Derrek is the owner of Thrive: Excellence in Sport Performance, has a Master’s Degree in Sport Psychology, is a Certified Consultant of The Association for Applied Sport Psychology (CMPC #599), is the Mental Skills Coach for the Seattle Sounders U-23 team, coached college soccer for 20 years, has been coaching high school soccer for over 5 years, has a USSF A License, and is a member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.