How to Get Over a Bad Game

I’ve had my fair share of really tough losses and horrible games. Losses where we have gotten destroyed and it’s absolutely embarrassing. And I’ve made terrible mistakes that have resulted in goals. Especially as a defender, you feel 100% to blame for it all. It’s the hardest part of the position. One mistake can result in a goal that gives up your lead or causes a loss.

As a professional, this is my livelihood. So, it’s hard not to get stressed out over a bad game. But obviously stressing can do more damage that leads you to lose your confidence and more bad games. So how do you flip a switch after a bad game? How do you not lose your confidence? How do you emotionally overcome the embarrassment of mistakes and the feeling of letting down your teammates and fans? 

Let me tell ya, it’s not easy. This season has been a hugeeeee challenge for me. I have made some major errors, and have learned the hard way how to not these mistakes affect me. Unfortunately, I’ve let these mistakes get to my head and have suffered from lots of negative self-talk which destroyed my confidence. It’s been difficult digging myself out of this hole, but here are some things I now implement into my post-game routine and daily life that help build my confidence, even after a shitty game: 

  1. Do not look at social media! After a bad match, DO NOT read the comments on Instagram or Twitter. I repeat, DO NOT read the comments. I’ve made this mistake before and it truly will destroy your confidence in .5 seconds. After a big loss, I will delete my social media apps to bite the curiosity of reading people’s reviews and hate comments about my playing. I usually keep them deleted for a few days until posts have died down and I know I won’t be seeing anything about the game anymore, or am emotionally ready if I do see a mean DM or comment.
  2. Game Analysis and Journaling. Right after the game or the next day after, I analyze my own game film and journal about it. I will write down every error I made, and how I could have made a better decision. This turns my mistakes into learning lessons. These mistakes will only make me a better player if I learn from them. I also write about how I felt mentally during the game. How was I feeling? How was my confidence? How did my confidence shift throughout the game if I made a mistake or had an excellent play? How were my energy levels? How was my pregame routine?… All these questions help me asses my mental game and how it contributed to my playing. After watching game film and journaling, I am able to stop replaying my errors over in my head which helps me move on faster.
  3. Positive Self-Talk. You are talking to yourself constantly throughout the day and unknowingly, all these thoughts have an impact on your play and life in general. Having positive self-talk is something that I really struggle with. This season, my negative self-talk took over my game. In my head, I thought that I didn’t deserve to be a starter because my mistakes made me a bad player. I also told myself that the new center defenders were automatically better than me because of their previous stats and records, even though I was considered one of the top defenders in the league last season. And guess what…? My level of play decreased immensely, and I stopped being in the starting lineup. I literally self-sabotaged myself with negative self-talk. So how am I changing these negative thoughts? Being aware of your thoughts is the first step. I have been taking note of what I’m saying to myself on and off the field. Being aware when my thoughts are negative allows me to flip them to something positive faster and understand why I’m thinking that way. I’ve also realized that I need to hype myself up constantly, especially when I am playing. For example, I am constantly saying things like: “I am confident”, “I am a beast”, “I am going to kill it at practice today”, and “I am going to give everything I got when I go in”. When I am continuously feeding myself these positive affirmations, there is little time for the negativity to creep in!
  4. Meditation. Meditation has become a part of my daily routine I started to help understand myself on a deeper level. I have found that meditation especially helps me get into the present moment, let go of the past, worry less about the future, and heighten my feelings of gratefulness. This has helped with the mental aspect of soccer because, through this, I’m able to shift my mindset quicker from dwelling over a bad game to focusing on the present moment. There’s nothing I can change about the past, but I can change how I feel in the present moment about a specific situation.
  5. Love the game. Win or lose, good game or bad game, I absolutely love this sport and playing brings me so much joy. It’s one of my favorite things to do in this life. So, even after tough games, I can truly say I loved playing out there every time. I may feel pain, embarrassment, and even heartbreak at times, but no matter what, playing will always be fun for me. Remembering at the end of the day that– this is just a sport that I love doing– helps relieve any pressure that I am feeling.
  6. Go into the next week of practices with fire. I use the loss or my mistakes as motivation to go into training ready to give it my all. 100% concentrated on the next opponent. Going in with no fear of making mistakes. Because mistakes are how you learn, and confidence is the willingness to try, even if you failed before. 

Every player goes through lows in their career. It is almost impossible to be at the peak of your game at all times. Learning how to push through the lows and keep a positive mindset is not easy. I hope some of my tips help any player that is also being challenged mentally in their sport. Feel free to message me if you have any questions or would like to share any other tips you may have! Thanks all for reading once again<3.


Mindset For the 2023 Season

Mindset is so incredibly important as a professional player. Obviously, to get to this level you have to have the skill, but what sets apart the great players is their mindset. In the sports world, mindset is a player’s beliefs, thoughts, and mental outlook about their abilities. Confidence levels, ability to focus, dealing with pressure, overcoming losses and attitude are just some of the core aspects that go into a player’s mindset.

Now that I have one tournament under my belt in the Mexican League, I have a better understanding of what I need to do in order to grow as a player and how to do it. I have been able to do a lot of reflection after the last season and during this preseason, learning what worked for me, my strengths, and what I need to improve on. And this season, I realized I need to take a step back and work on my mindset. In order for me to accomplish my goals physically on the field, I first need to master what’s going on in my mind. 

My mindset is the foundation, but if that’s weak, it’s very difficult to build up to my goals. I can train for hours every day, but if I lack confidence and have negative self-talk, there’s very little growth that will actually occur. There’s no point in spending hours building a house if the foundation isn’t solid! Therefore, I believe, strengthening and establishing my mindset is the most important thing I can work on this season.

So, here are my mindset goals and practices I will be implementing this season: 

  1. Treat every training session like a tryout. We have a lot of competition in the defense this season which is great because every training session is a fight for a starting position. You cannot be relaxed or complacent because things can change in an instant. Every week is a clean slate and you have to prove yourself in order to play in that weekend’s game.
  2. Focus every day on bettering myself. When the new defenders joined our team in pre-season, I honestly got nervous and started comparing myself to them. I became focused on trying to be better than them because I didn’t want to lose my starting position this season. As a result, I started to lose sight of my playing style and really struggled, making dumb defensive errors, missing easy passes, and playing in fear of making a mistake (which in turn caused more mistakes!). Focusing on my own abilities takes away the pressure of trying to be perfect and instead encourages slight improvements.
  3. Love the Process. When you enjoy playing with your teammates daily, putting in extra work in the gym, and being obsessed with improving and getting to the next level, everything becomes easier! Growing as a player becomes fun and as a result, it motivates you to be the best you can be.
  4. Never look past the basic fundamentals and little details. No player is too good to stop prioritizing good passing technique and their first touch. Consistently training these skills and not overlooking them will keep me sharp. Being disciplined about little details can win or lose a game at this level. Staying focused at training will help me remember these details and make sure I execute them.
  5. Be grateful. Every moment I get to step onto the field, whether it’s for training or game day, I will remind myself of how grateful I am to be in this position. Very few people can say they played a sport professionally, and I know so many players would kill to be in my position. Sometimes I take this for granted and forget about how truly blessed I am! Being grateful will only make me want to train and push harder.
  6. Starting or not starting, the goal is still the same: doing everything I can for my team to win. As a competitor and professional athlete, I always want to start and play the full 90 minutes of every game. That drive and fierceness have gotten me to this point in my career. However, being on a competitive team with a lot of talented players means that playing or starting isn’t guaranteed. I want to make it to the Championship game so badly this season and I am willing to sacrifice anything to do so. So starting or not starting, I will give everything to help my team win.
  7. Mediation. Meditating is something I have started implementing in my everyday routine. It has already helped immensely and will continue to help with: increasing my confidence, understanding my negative thoughts, decreasing my anxiety/stress, being in the present moment, and unlocking flow.
  8. Journal after every training session and game. Writing every day about how I felt while playing, my energy and concentration levels, things I struggled with or did well in, and notes about our next rivals will help elevate my game by giving me insight and information on how I can improve.
  9. Take accountability. Being accountable for your mistakes and not placing the blame on anyone else helps you learn and grow. Because this is a team sport and many players are at fault if something goes wrong, it’s easy to place the fault on other people. But I believe taking ownership and being responsible for mistakes helps challenge you and makes you more in control of your performance.

I had a great first season with Xolos, but things change drastically from season to season. I’ll be completely honest, I have been struggling with my confidence and being consistent this season. It has been a challenge mentally, but if I stay consistent with my mindset practices, I will only grow and become a stronger player from it!

I’d love to hear from any of you reading this if you have any other mental practices that help elevate your game! Also, feel free to reach out if you have also gone through tough periods in your sport and what you did to get through them. As always, thanks for taking the time to read AuthenticallyAdy! Until next time<3.