Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Players who can do it in training but freeze in matches

A performance error happens because a player cannot perform a skill in a match that they can do in training. Once you have identified this type of error and the player has acknowledged that there is a particular problem, you can set about helping him to correct it.


Tiredness is the easiest cause to diagnose and overcome. Ask the player about their pre-match routine. What and when do they eat? How much do they drink before a game? Do they sleep well before matches? If necessary, get the player to keep a simple diary logging their exact routine. Based on their answers you can advise them about eating and drinking before games to maximise their performance.


Speak to the player about what they would do in different game situations. Get them to talk through their decisions during exercises and games in training. In terms of overcoming the problem, put them into more game-related scenarios, and see how they respond. Players can often learn more on how to play in different situations by experiencing them. Encourage players to talk to each other about what worked and what didn’t. Ask the defenders what they saw and how easy different options were to defend against.


The first step in overcoming pre-match nerves is for the player to realise that everyone else feels the same way and that if they can control their nerves they can turn it into a positive. Different things work for different players and you may have to try a number of options before finding one which works.

Pre-match routines can help overcome nerves. Introduce a period of relaxation before games. Players sit quietly and focus on their breathing while you speak to individuals and give them positive messages about their own performances. Use self talk and visualisation to help players remember things they are good at, or aspects in which they excelled in past performances.

In some cases, changing a player’s position in the team can help them rebuild confidence. For example, moving a struggling winger to full-back can help to alleviate some of the responsibility on them.


1 Comment so far
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Great article, with good advice
Here are a couple others to consider

What is the tempo like in training, is it a slower pace giving the player more time on the ball?
Try gradually upping the tempo in training to see what happens
Is there a “play without the fear of failure in games”

Comment by Chris Mcginn (@ChrisMcginn123)

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