Matches, Science

2014 FIFA World Cup Soccer Fitness Preview: Brazil – Relax, Relax, Relax

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Because this is a World Cup year, I have decided to countdown to the tournament by providing a short soccer/fitness related preview of each of the 32 participating nations.  In this installment, I’m going to take a look at Brazil, 5-time world champions and 2014 World Cup hosts, who will be opening the tournament on June 12th against Croatia.

Brazil are considered favorites not only in that game, but in the entire tournament.  The pressure that goes along with being the favorite can be overwhelming.  In my last blog post, I looked at Croatia, and discussed the importance of mental excitation strategies, and how they can help the underdog stay motivated and focused in big games.  For the favorite the opposite strategy, involving mental relaxation, is often the most effective one.

Nerves before big competitions can unsettle a team that is favored to win, so learning how to calm the body down is a very valuable skill.  A great strategy to help with mental relaxation is self talk.  The key is to find a word or short sentence that is brief and concise, yet at the same time delivers a powerful message that helps the body relax.  When engaging in self talk, players must make sure that they really believe that what they are saying will help them to stay relaxed under pressure.  Individual players need to take some time to think about what word or short sentence will have the most powerful relaxing effect on them.  The word “relax” itself can be very effective, but of course there may be other, less obvious words or phrases that will work just as well.

If Brazil are to do what the world expects them to do, which is to beat Croatia, finish first in their group, and reach the final (at least), then relaxing self talk may be an effective addition to their training regime.  We will have to wait and see what happens in 3 months’ time.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.  Drop me a line here to get the conversation started.

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