music4brains

mental training with music

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Penalty kicks

Perform penalty kicks more safely


Penalties in footbal (soccer), seven meters in handball, free throws in basketball and similar tasks in other sports require not only technical skills but also mental strength. It can be crucial what runs through the mind of the executor in such a situation. In football and handball, an opposing goalkeeper still has to be overcome, while at a basketball free throw or putting (golf) nobody stands in the way.

It's much easier to stay cool in training than in the real match. Expectations, hopes, and fears of both teams and the spectators can be felt here. Referees and the entire life atmosphere also influence the situation. Besides, psychological pressure arises because the result of the action is very important and can even be decisive for the match.

The calming, brain-stimulating music4brains can help you to link the physical and mental procedure of the penalty kick and thus become more and more secure.

I didn’t take many penalties, but I never missed one.

Jürgen Klopp



Mental training: Increase the scoring rate by optimizing your inner attitude

The training is explained here for penalty kicks in football (soccer). They can be transferred to corresponding challenges in other sports.

First, find out the initial state so that you can recognize a development later. Grab a goalkeeper and shoot a set number of penalties on the field, e.g.  50. It would be helpful if a third person recorded the results in a checklist so that you can focus on your task. You will find an example of such a list here.

Mind training: Working on connected feelings

Now capture the initial emotional state. Remember a game situation in which the penalty kicking was a problem for you or you didn’t score. Close your eyes if you like. Experience the event internally and perceive your surroundings. Put yourself in the situation. See who and what surrounds you. Hear what is going on around you and feel the temperature, the air, the surface you are on. What does it smell like there? Perceive the uncomfortable feeling that is within you. Does your (remembered) emotional state also have physical effects (e.g. stomach ache, sweating, trembling, tight feeling in the chest, rubber legs ...)? Now estimate the uncomfortable feeling for you with the help of the emotion scale. Then start the music, listen to it through headphones and spend two to three minutes doing other things. That could be some light automated work, a view from your window, something neutral. Then think about the match situation again while the music continues. If the feeling changes, you can reassess it in between. Is there any other value on the scale? You can complete the mental training if you have neutralized the negative feeling — scale value 0 would be great.


Kick training: combine mental attitude and movement

Now train again with a goalkeeper on the field and listen to m4b music on headphones or earplugs while someone else takes notes on the checklist. You know your movement sequence, link it now with helpful thoughts. Thoughts like the following would be harmful. I hope I don't mess it up. Just don't shoot past. Maybe I'm dealing with a penalty killer here. It gets embarrassing when things go wrong! The subconscious receives the wrong message when words such as mess up, shoot past, embarrassing or penalty killer haunt the conscious mind. It is better to have a clear, simple, positive thought like: I'm going to score now! Form a penalty kick ritual and automate it. It could be like this:

  1. put the ball down 
  2. go to the starting point for your approach run 
  3. decide where the ball should go 
  4. think the positive thought 
  5. take a deep breath 
  6. start 
  7. score 

Use the ritual on every training kick. After some time, it should eventually run unconsciously like riding a bicycle or driving a car. Exercise several times in this manner and notice the development of your marksmanship. After a few workouts, you can leave out the music while exercising. If it was the right time, your recorded hit rate will confirm it. Of course, you won't use music in the real match.

During the match: perform your ritual

If you are challenged as a penalty taker in the game, take your time. Your heart rate is probably still quite high in the course of the game. Therefore, calm breathing and smooth movements are helpful before kicking. Maybe you can also gain a few seconds if a teammate kindly talks to the referee. In any case, reducing the heart rate is beneficial. Right before your ritual starts, ignore everything around you as well as you can and concentrate on your task. Look at the goal: it is huge and the goalkeeper is quite small. Then you do it!


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