The World Cup 2014 in Brazil is starting today and this festival of football will provide lots examples of the importance of the mental side of the game in major tournaments.  I am going to present the importance of the mental skills and qualities needed for a player to be successful in the World Cup.  This is based on the book I have written (to be published very soon!) on the elements needed for success and winning and what better place to be successful and win than the biggest stage in world football in Brazil.  The book is called the Journey and the elements for success, which I have broken down into 3 key Building Blocks and 3 Principles, can be found in the story of every successful person who has been successful and in every performance environment including those that won the World Cup.

The first of the Building Blocks is Awareness.  Players in the World Cup in Brazil need to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses in their individual and team games.  They must play to these strengths when they are competing in the tournament but be aware of their weaknesses.  Major tournaments don’t come around often (The World Cup is every 4 years) so players have to go out and perform and play to win.  These tournaments are not a place to try focus on weaknesses.  Players and teams that are aware of their strengths and play to them will maximise their chances of winning.

There must also be awareness of the opposition and the conditions.  What are the strengths of the other teams in the tournament and how can their strengths exploit the weaknesses of the opposition?  We have heard about the humid conditions so players need to be aware of this.  Those who have done something to prepare for this will be in a better position to win.  As we can see the opposition and conditions are outside of the control of individual players so players that have an internal focus and concentrate solely the things that they can control will do better in the tournament.  This is the first principle, Control the Controllables.  Players must control the things they can so they can influence as much as possible the things needed to win in football.

The second Building Block is Belief and this is essential in a major tournament like Brazil 2014.  Players need to have positive and strong beliefs that can drive them on their Journey in the World Cup.  They have to have belief in their own ability and that they deserve to be there.  This will propel them to play to win.  The final of the 3 Building Blocks is Balance and players with the best balance (both on the pitch and in all aspects of their life) will have the best chances of winning.  To have this they needed to have spent time (difficult with the professional season just finishing so as much as possible) with the all the different aspects of their life (family etc) before the tournament and then allocate time for this after the World Cup has finished.  There must also be balance in the team, where everyone has a role and there are is in no imbalance in positions, personalities and roles.

These Building Blocks are supported by the last 2 Principles of Hard Work and Extend Your Comfort Zone.   A major tournament is hard work in both the preparation and the actual event.  Players should have worked hard to prepare for the tournament and the conditions.  Only players who have worked hard during their career to this point will be at the tournament.  The final Principle is Extend Your Comfort Zone and those players that have worked hard and prepared right will have been on the edge of their comfort zone to be in the best shape physically, mentally and technically for the World Cup.

Whichever player and team uses the Building Blocks and Principles outlined in the Journey will have a great World Cup and maximise their chances of lifting the trophy. Hopefully the England team will do this!