DAN ABRAHAMS: HOW BODY LANGUAGE IS A GAME CHANGER
Youth Soccer Players, as well as Professional Players, need to Pay Attention to Body Language
What Does Your Body Language Say About Your Abilities, Determination and Confidence?
Global sports psychologist and author specializing in soccer, Dan Abrahams is based in England and has helped hundreds of professional soccer players – many of them who play in the English Premier League (EPL). Players from Crystal Palace, QPR, Fulham, and West Ham United among other clubs have benefited from Abrahams insights and advice.
As a regular columnist for GoalNation, Abrahams wants to help youth soccer coaches and players reach their highest levels of development. Abrahams also wants to help soccer parents understand what it takes to be successful at every level of this highly competitive field of dreams.
In Soccer: Body Language Checks
I’ve recently returned from a trip to Philadelphia where I presented at the United Soccer CoachesConvention. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present to an audience of about five hundred soccer coaches, all who were looking for cutting-edge ideas to take back to their home clubs, colleges, schools, and organizations.
I started with what I think is one of the most electrifying videos I’ve ever seen related to the mental side of the sport. I showed them a brief clip of the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final between New Zealand and France.
Now I know rugby isn’t a massive sport in the U.S. but I have to say the audience was transfixed by what they saw. I didn’t actually show them any clips of the game itself. The footage I exposed them to was from before the game. And, even the least enthusiastic rugby fans probably know what I showed, especially when New Zealand are involved.
Yes, I showed the Haka.
But no, it wasn’t the Haka that I had the audience pay attention to. It was actually the French team and what they specifically did during the Kiwi’s legendary war dance.
As the New Zealand players went through their ferocious dance, the French team formed themselves into an arrow or spear.
And as the Haka continued, the French players started to walk forward towards the Haka. In essence, they were piercing the heart of the Haka.
OK, SO WHAT I HEAR YOU SAY. WHAT DIFFERENCE WOULD THAT MAKE?
For me, the reason why the French team did this was to change the meaning of the Haka. The French were creating a new meaning, one that says, ‘We’re not scared of your Haka, in fact, we’re going to pierce it. We are stronger and more powerful. We will play front foot rugby. We will play to win. We will be aggressive.’
In short, the French team used their body language, as individuals and as a collective to drive how they felt about the situation…how they felt about the final.
‘WE ARE COMING FOR YOU. WE DRIVE FORWARD TOWARDS YOU.’
This is what body language does more than anything else. It helps you shape the meaning of what you’re doing at any given time.
SO WHEN YOU RUN ONTO THE PITCH FOR AN IMPORTANT SOCCER MATCH STRIVE TO KEEP INCREDIBLE BODY LANGUAGE.
Strive to drive your meaning for the game. Run onto the pitch on your toes. Alert, alive and lively. Shape yourself into the kind of player you want to be, and hold the sensations that hit your body as you run, move and play.
Hold the sensations that surge through your body as you run, move and play.
So what happened in that rugby final. Well, it was nearly one of the greatest upsets in rugby history. The French team was the overwhelming underdogs. They were playing the most successful sporting team in the world. They were in New Zealand against a hostile crowd. And New Zealand only just about won the game eight to seven.
So the French team lost … but they took incredible control of themselves to make it incredibly tight. To make it incredibly uncomfortable for New Zealand. To nearly, so very nearly, win the World Cup.
My challenge to you is to find out what your ‘spear’ and your ‘arrow’ is.
WHAT DOES GREAT BODY LANGUAGE LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
As an individual and as a teammate. Think about this, now and when you are on the field.Capture yourself like a camera lens. What does great body language really look like?