How to Adopt a Positive Mindset as a Student-Athlete

Soccer players smiling and laughing
Choosing a positive attitude can help student-athletes reach their full potential.

As a student-athlete, you know that your mental state going into a competition – especially when facing equally well-trained opponents – can be a crucial factor in determining the outcome of your performance. Even if you’re physically ready to compete, getting distracted by fear or negative thinking can lead to missed opportunities and critical mistakes.

Fortunately, adopting a positive perspective is a choice any athlete can make. Leading into your next game, try following these simple yet powerful steps to help you stay calm and perform closer to your true potential.

Shift from a negative to a positive outlook.

Set a personal goal to stay positive. Then pay attention to your mind’s inner dialog and notice what it’s saying – are your thoughts negative or positive? At first you might be surprised how much trash talk is going on in your head. When a negative thought arises, simply shift your focus to something positive. In time, you’ll naturally become more aware of your thoughts and find it easier to stay positive, even in difficult situations.

Define your goal and decide why and how you’ll achieve it.

Whatever you’re aiming to achieve – whether you’d like to make more challenges during your next game or you have your sights set on earning a full ride to play college soccer – it’s important to clarify what you want and how you’re going to go about achieving it. Then focus on why you want to attain that particular outcome. Understanding your motivation – your why – will help keep you focused when difficulties arise.

Commit to taking action every day.

Don’t wait until you feel motivated to get started. Make a commitment to yourself to stay positive and focused on your intentions. Don’t worry about accomplishing everything at once, just focus on the next step, find what works best for you and keep looking for reasons to succeed.

Acknowledge your strengths.

On this journey, you must believe in yourself and your potential to succeed. Remind yourself what you’re good at, what makes you unique and why you’re fully capable of achieving whatever goal you set for yourself. Write it all down and then read it whenever you need a reminder of how awesome you are.

Remember that your mindset is a choice and you can decide to stay positive and focused on achieving your goals. You have the power within yourself to accomplish whatever you set out to do. When you think and act in positive ways, you free yourself to focus on your goal without distraction.

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Eva Bart-Williams is a mental performance coach with a private practice helping individuals and teams achieve big goals. Eva is also CBW Soccer Elite’s head of operations, where she helps athletes embrace the challenges of high-level competition and advises families on the college soccer recruitment process. You can reach her at