It’s so easy to have a great attitude when you’re playing great soccer. It’s so easy to keep great football psychology. When the ball appears to stick to your feet as you go on a mazy run or when it pings off your boot oh so perfectly, the game is so sweet and your attitude inevitably follows.

When you go through a spell of great soccer people will tell you just how brilliant you are. They remind you of your great plays and fill your mind with confident thoughts. When this happens, you feel like you’ll never have a poor game again.

But it’s tougher to show a great attitude when you’ve stepped off the pitch after one of your poorer games. It’s challenging to maintain a great attitude after you’ve made a string of match changing mistakes. It’s difficult to portray a great attitude when you’re blamed for a defeat.

But I want you to be very clear about what I’m about to say. Attitude is a choice. It’s a choice in every training session and in every match. It’s a choice every second of every day no matter what is happening in your soccer game. It’s a choice no matter what the score was, no matter how you played, no matter who you are, no matter what level you play at or what age you are. Attitude is a choice in soccer!

Lionel Messi had a choice about his attitude as he developed his game at the Barcelona Academy. He could choose to look at his small framed body and think “I just can’t compete with bigger players.” He could choose to adopt this kind of attitude. Thankfully he didn’t. He saw things differently – he spoke to himself in a more helpful manner: “I can compete. I’m going to become incredible with the ball at my feet. Sure there’ll be bigger players than me, but they have to deal with my quick feet, with my dribbling skills, with my intelligent mind.”

Lionel Messi had a choice about how he thought about his game and he chose to think positively, helpfully and constructively.

Now when I speak to people about attitude being a choice, I often get the response “Dan, that’s all very well. But choosing a great attitude all the time is tough. It’s hard. It’s just not easy.”

I agree! Choosing a great attitude as a soccer player isn’t easy. That’s because failure is so ‘in your face’ in soccer. Failure happens all the time – it’s a given. It’s impossible to play the game without failure. You will give the ball away. You’ll miss a great opportunity to score. You’ll make a mistake that will cost your team.

Failures like these can lead to discouragement. Failure can lead to despondency and doubt.

But you need to make these negative feelings temporary. How? By seeing the game differently

Failure is ok. If you’re not failing then you’re probably not trying hard enough. Your best performance is only possible by taking risks. And when you take risks you WILL fail from time to time. It’s inevitable.

Stop holding back…play front foot…take risks…play with freedom. Enjoy the game and have fun. Sure, you’ll make a mistake but that’s ok. Decide that you’re going to respond positively to failure, to setbacks, to the tough and the difficult times.

The key word here is choice. You have a choice to keep a great attitude through failure. You have a choice to demonstrate a great attitude after a couple of indifferent games of soccer. You have a choice about your attitude every day of the week, in every training session and in every match.

Think about the choices you make for your attitude in training, on matchday and towards your game. Strive to work on making choices that help you improve and perform.