Soccer players must train with intention. They must walk out onto the training pitch with a mind focused on improving. They must engage their brain so the skills they’re learning stick…and stick hard!
This sounds obvious right? This sounds like something every footballer would do. But in my experience this doesn’t necessarily happen. Too often footballers are willing and able to train with physical intensity, but lack the kind of mental intensity that helps them develop skill.
Let me be clear, it is mental intensity and NOT physicality during training that will separate a player from his or her peers. It isn’t good enough to just train with physical intensity. That won’t re-wire your brain to learn the kind of skills you need to be the very best you can be.
“I trained hard” shouldn’t mean that you ran about a lot. Training hard should mean that you set yourself a goal to improve a specific area of your game. It should mean that you found a way during your training session to improve this specific skill. It should mean that it felt uncomfortable as you worked on this skill – you risked looking stupid, you risked failure.
That’s what intentional training is – it’s specific, it’s uncomfortable, it’s risky. It’s mental intensity…
I’ll give you an example. You’re right footed and you want to improve your left foot. So during a small sided or keep ball game you decide to pass with your left foot every single time you get on the ball. You have to adjust your body position to receive the ball in this way. You have to be aware of the players around you that you can pass to using your left foot. That will be uncomfortable…it will be risky.
You see, players who train with intention are no excuse players. They don’t wait for their coaches to tell them what to do. They don’t moan or groan about training because they’re too busy getting the very most out of each and every session no matter what.
So if you’re a player reading this I urge you to train intentionally. If you’re a coach I invite you to help your players to train with intensity.