Five ways to master your workout like the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team!
John Herdman, Head Coach of the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team, will help you get your head in the game—whether you’re going for gold or cursing through your last set of lunges. Here’s how to access your ‘brain gym’.
1. What’s your strategy for getting the team in the right headspace for something as big as the World Cup?
The headspace of the players is built over time; it isn’t something that just happens. The mindset of a winner is both simple and complex. The complexity surrounds our carefully crafted mental training program, so players are expected to access the ‘brain gym’ daily and have clear mental development programs. These programs are designed to improve the effectiveness and resilience of the brain under pressure, so players have the comfort in knowing the hardware that so often lets them down is as strong as any other organ or muscle is in the body. The simple part is by lighting their fire daily by bringing them back to their purpose and connecting them to their passion for soccer, our country and the people they play for. It sounds so simple, but it is so often forgotten in elite level sport when the fog of pressure, expectation and scrutiny starts to set in.
2.Do female athletes in Canada have a responsibility to serve as role models for young women?
Absolutely – sport has the power to set young females on a path of success, and we love the idea of young Canadian women looking up to and aspiring to be the next generation of Christine Sinclairs. I have a four-year old daughter and I’m pleased she can grow up in a country where our female athletes are visible, respected and celebrated, sport is such a powerful socializing agent for youngsters and our players are well aware of the impact they have on inspiring future generations to fall in love and stay in love with our sport. They all had their own role models growing up and can describe key moments that helped fuel their passion to train harder, focus their goals or stay in love with soccer, with this experience they know that their words, actions and deeds have far reaching impacts.
3. What is the training schedule like and how does it change before the first big game of the tournament?
The schedule has been mapped out and delivered over a three-year period, carefully mapped out to achieve our four corner goals (technical, mental, physical and social emotional corners) and to peak for this event. Every day we look for those one percent gains across each of the corners identifying the little things that can make the biggest difference such as innovations, efficiencies in processes and systems, enhancing the quality of communication, while achieving consistency in the processes that have got us to where we are at now. Closer to the first match the focus is on ensuring our environment is LBC (Light, Bright and Clear), de-cluttering and simplifying so that the players feel clear of their purpose and role within team, with this clarity we can generate the team connection required to produce high performance.
4. How to you help motivate the team when they’re feeling discouraged?
Vision is key to motivation, and having clarity in who you are, what you stand for and where you are going in life gives you a chance to re-focus and gain perspective when times are getting tough. Without clarity of vision it is easy to get stuck on things in life. I always like to ensure the players motivate themselves through connecting them back to their vision, which ignites their passion and fuels the discipline to move forward. In practical terms this team will get one chance in our lifetime to do something special for our country. We’ve visualized the moment where our passion and performance on the pitch connects our country, and this image is a powerful driver that gets us out of bed everyday before the alarm clock sounds and is strong enough to quickly over ride the setbacks.
5. What’s the most important thing to remember?
Focus on the larger picture, and that being part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is much bigger than any one player. The Canadian team is a group of amazing female athletes who are championing for other female athletes. The opportunity to be a part of this Tournament, and on home soil, is a once in a lifetime experience they’ll be able to share with the whole country. As Coca-Cola and FIFA brought the Trophy across Canada, we saw the support Canadians have for our team and it pushes us even harder!