The Scottish Football Association

Player Tools to Making Yourself Better

Sibbald playing against Wales

 Making Yourself Better


Positive players work hard to make themselves better by striving to be the best they can be.


Player Tools to Making Yourself Better

Get ready Routine

Get Ready Routines are a great way to prepare for a match or training. It is important that you take every opportunity to learn and enjoy football and preparing effectively for a match or training can help you perform better.

- Prepare your equipment- a positive player will prepare their boots, shin guards, kit bag and all other items they need for their match/training

- Get enough sleep - recommended sleep time is 9-10 hours each night

- Take on fluid – Drink water before match/training even if you are not thirsty

- Eat good food – Eat at least 3 hours before match/training and eat foods such as pasta, cereal, rice

- Prepare your brain- think about your effort goals and key roles that you and the team have been asked to do. Everyone gets nervous - think positive thoughts.

Match Routine

The reason you train hard and prepare well is to play well on a match day. Positive players play the game fairly and compete hard with focus and determination. Concentrate on the following areas to help you perform better.

- Focus on effort goals - concentrate on goals that you can achieve if you work hard. If you have been set an effort goal to deliver as many crosses from wide areas as you can, if you work hard to do 1 or you manage 10 you have still achieved your goal.

- Bounce back from mistakes – Use a thought in your head or a mistake ritual such as a “clap of the hands” to signal a quick reaction and recover from mistakes

- Encourage your team-mates - Praising your team mates will help them and the team play better.

- Play the game fairly - Play to the rules and respect your opponents. Positive players refuse to bend the rules to win

Post-match routines

After the match it is important to refuel and evaluate your individual and team performance. This will help your body recover and also identify what to work on for next match

- Take on Fluid and Eat – it is important to take on food and water within the first 2 hours after match or training

- Review your performance – What did you do well? What have you learnt? What areas to work on and how to improve? Did I help the team?

Dealing with nerves

Everyone gets a little nervous before a big match. However, for those players that let the nerves affect them, the quality of their performance will often suffer. Use the following techniques to overcome nerves by keeping them under control.

- Visualisation – Close your eyes and think about yourself playing the match. Think positively about you doing things well in the match

- Relaxation techniques – Breathing exercise of taking in deep breaths or taking time out to listen to music will help relax and deal with nerves

- Focus on what you can control – Don’t worry about who is watching you play or what the pitch is like. Stay focused on the things you can control like your level of effort and your concentration.

Mistake rituals

Do you worry about making mistakes?  Positive players do not worry about making mistakes – they have a mistakes ritual to help them move on from any mistakes. A mistake ritual allows you to quickly reset and get ready for the next part of the match without dwelling on the past and beating yourself up after making any mistakes.

Wipe your Brow - Give your brow a wipe, wipe away your mistake.

Watch Andy Murray during a tennis match, after every point he will wipe his brow. This is his signal to himself to forget the last point and move on.

Clap your hands - A quick clap of the hands and move on to next play. So many successful players use this to forget a mistake.

Bad pass into a good pass - Get the ball back or close the man down.

What is your first reaction to a bad pass? Rather than be disappointed with a bad pass, make every effort to get the ball back as quickly as possible or get back into position.

Have a Back-up plan

Research has shown that the best players in the world only play to their full potential 15% of the time, so what do they do the rest of the time? They have a back-up plan! Going into a match with a back-up plan is vital for you to succeed.

If you are a striker and plan A is to run in behind the opposition defence. The defence are playing very deep so it is difficult to run in behind. Plan B would be to hold up ball but you find defender is stronger than you. Plan C would be to pick up ball deep and run at defence.

A positive player will have a back-up plan to be able to adapt quickly to the challenges he/she faces in a match

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