On Monday, The United States Women’s National Team competed in its first game of the 2015 World Cup. Sharing a group with Sweden, Nigeria, and Australia, the USWNT matched up against Australia for it’s first game. Entering half-time with a score of 1-1, the USWNT has not played a very strong first half. They managed to pick up the intensity in the second half and started playing more cohesively. Megan Rapinoe succeeded in scoring two goals, leading the team to a 3-1 victory. Despite the victory, the team arguably did not play to its potential. Some post-game reviews claimed that the team did not play it’s best, saying, “For most of the first 60 minutes, Australia was the better team,” and that, “The United States weren’t great as a whole.” Coach Jill Ellis said of the first half: “I didn’t think we really played with a rhythm and a sense of calmness about us.” She said, “The important thing is we grow. The second half is something we can grow upon.”
The USWNT’s first game demonstrates that outcomes do no always reflect the process of performing; the U.S. beat Australia by two goals, but that does not mean they played the best they could. Objective evaluations can be very effective in these instances. After winning a game, it may feel easy to be happy about the outcome, and forget about the game, missing your opportunity to learn from what you did well and what you need to work on. However, after losing, you might find yourself replaying some of your mistakes over and over, and neglecting to think about what you did well. Being objective and evaluating both the good and the bad in the process of your performance – independent of the outcome – can help you recognize what you did well and identify areas for improvement, no matter what the score of the game is. Objectively evaluating your performance requires you to take some time to reflect, and to follow through. After you play, either in a training session or a game, think about what you did well, what you want to improve, and how you want to improve it. Deciding how you want to improve gives you goals to work on in upcoming sessions. If you want to really commit to this, then keep a journal or training log and write down your evaluations. This will help you see what you want to work on in upcoming sessions or games, and track your progress over time. Keep in mind that after games, you are likely to feel emotional, whether you’re feeling happy or excited about a win or good performance, or frustrated about a loss or a poor performance. When you reflect on your play, try to let go of some of those emotions so that you can think objectively. Objectively evaluating their first 2015 World Cup performance and identifying what the team did well and what they need to improve can help the USWNT go into their game tomorrow against Sweden with specific goals and strategies to help them improve their performance.
High Performance Sports provides sport psychology services to athletes for performance enhancement