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Practice focus by writing about a football player before a big game. How does he prepare his mind? Does he visualise the game in his mind? Does he think about what it felt like the first time he played the sport?


by John Yeo

   The day has finally arrived. Training has been hard, videos, tactical moves on display on the blackboard, special exercises, every conceivable eventuality the coach could dream up, has been explored. Spies and scouts have infiltrated the opposition’s training ground and reported back to the boss. Yesterday we spent six hours rehearsing moves passing the ball to one another, working flash tackles, finishes, exploring defensive positions. Then another two hours studying the recorded major matches that the opposition have been involved in this season. We have tried to get inside their coach’s mind to interpret the thinking that has gone into the moves he has drummed into his team. Then, more field practice, moves and countermeasures to block their favourite modes of attack. We have even been studying the way to counter a professional foul, this is increasingly a blight on the game lately, and we have to study how to spot the signs of a lead up to a foul. Next we study avoidance with methods of hidden retaliation, a natural response if you have just avoided getting put out of the game.

    The big match is two days away and the boss has given everyone a night off, to get away from the consistent living, dreaming, eating, the game, with the total absorption of the hard intense training. We have been shut away in a hotel for almost two weeks solid now. The players are heading into town to clear the cobwebs away, we have been instructed to steer clear of too much wine, women and song. I intend to treat myself to a night at the theatre. There is a performance of Shakespeare’s, “Hamlet” at the local theatre, put on by the local repertory company. I am a great fan of this play and it will take my mind off the match. My mates all disdained accompanying me, in favour of a local nightclub that reputedly serves soft drink. I hear the coach is delighted with this plan.

    Surprisingly almost everyone turned up for training on time the next day. Two of the lads were a bit late, but no harm done, the boss has given them a telling-off, to remember. Everyone is keen and as sharp as glass. Kevin, our star striker was developing moves out of thin air. There were two very pretty female spectators on the sidelines cheering him on. Who they were,  is anybody’s guess.

      The match is scheduled to begin in one hour. There is a huge crowd in the stands and I am blanking everything out and furiously meditating on the Prince’s soliloquy in Hamlet. “To be or not to be?.” Becomes what will my rise in pay be when I raise that cup above my head.

   My mind is ablaze with the thoughts of the glory of the victory. “To Be, or To Be.”  Forget the Not. We are going to win!

Copyright © ~ Written by John Yeo ~All rights reserved