Carlton Cole's mind gym
Work your most powerful muscle and you’ll be up to any challenge, says the former West Ham striker
1 VISUALISE SUCCESSMentally rehearse a match-winning performance
When I go to bed the night before a match I visualise different aspects of the game. I go through what positions I’m going to take up, how I’m going to control passes from my team-mates and how I’m going to convert my chances. I concentrate on my strengths and how I can dominate my opponent to affect the game. The aim then is to bring to life what I’ve imagined.
2 HAVE A PLAN BOvercome a poor performance with mental preparation
There have been times when I’ve gone out on the pitch and thought, ‘I’m going to destroy this team today’, and it hasn’t gone to plan. You’ve always got to be positive, but you need a coping strategy for when you’re playing badly. I focus on doing the basics well. For me, that’s holding the ball up and laying it off to a team-mate. Getting these things right helps restore my confidence, giving me the belief to try extra stuff out on the pitch.
3 EXUDE CONFIDENCERadiate belief with positive body language
When I lose the ball, instead of letting my head go down I make sure I keep my chest puffed out and my head up. I talk to myself using positive language – the more I do this, the more chance I have of creating something positive. I think, ‘When the next pass comes to me I’m going to be strong’. If you show any weakness the defender is going to pounce on it and be in your ear. Positive body language also lets your team-mates know you’re up for it.
4 MAKE IT HAPPENDon’t wait for success on the pitch – seize it
There were times last year when we didn’t play well, but once we won and broke the cycle we were flying. That’s because we changed our habits – we made things happen, instead of waiting for them to happen. Once we decided to be proactive, both physically and mentally, we went out on the pitch and took the initiative. You can’t afford to think about the ifs, buts and maybes of a football game; just go out there, stay positive and do it.
5 FORGET THE PASTDon’t dwell on the negatives, but focus on the positives
When we’ve had a bad result I say to the lads, “Listen, we’ve had a bad game – it’s going to happen – so there’s no point sulking right now. Let’s get up, have a shower and think about what we could have done better, but tomorrow when we’re back in training we train hard and look forward to the next game.” If I go home dwelling on the negatives I’m going to be in a bad mood. I can’t live like that. I’d rather focus on what I can do better.