Fear of Failure #6
After getting relegated and not having any other options in Europe I decided to come back to Australia and sign for Melbourne City on loan. In my head all I was thinking about was scoring 8-10 goals and getting a move straight back to Europe! Pre season was tough but I was feeling okay and the coach at the time liked me as a player, which was the most important thing.
I had done well enough over pre season to earn a starting spot for our first game against Brisbane Roar. We won and I played well but all I was focused on was I didn’t score a goal. Then the next game came against Victory again, we won and I played well but I didn’t score! This really started playing on my mind and all I was thinking about was scoring, only focusing on an outcome goal! We won the next 2 games, I started both but I didn’t score and now I was getting really low on confidence. 4 games and no goals was a disaster in my mind.
This was a lesson in what happens when you put so much pressure on yourself and focus on outcome goals and on the future. All I had told myself was to score a certain amount of goals and get a move back to Europe. When I actually should have been focusing on becoming the best player I can be by improving every day at training. The rest would take care of itself but I was so caught up in my own head….
The next few months flew by, and I was still starting every game but I was now missing every chance I got. But I was missing them due to the fact I was scared, I didn’t want the ball to come to me, I didn’t want to miss another goal or make another mistake. I was in the worst possible headspace for an elite athlete, I was paralyzed from FEAR OF FAILURE! How has this possibly happened? I had it all planned out in my head on how it was going to go and now I am not evening wanting to go out and play!
While this was all going on I hadn’t realized how negative, selfish and hard to be around I had become at home. My girlfriend was amazing but I was just a shadow of the person I wanted to be and the player. I hadn’t yet separated the two though and this was a bad place to be.
I finally got dropped for a game just before I went away with the u23 Australia team to play in the Asian cup. It was rock bottom but it was exactly what I needed.
We went away to China to play in the Asian cup and after the first week of training I started to feel really good again, my confidence was coming back. Ante Milicic made my captain and I think that bit of belief from him gave me the confidence I needed. Unfortunately we got knocked out but those few weeks away were exactly what I needed.
In the back half of the season I scored 4 goals and I started to feel a bit better about myself and it was all down to not just focusing on scoring or getting a move back to Europe but rather just going out and playing my best. We ended up losing in the semi finals but I was happy with how I had finished the season.
In the 2 years while in Holland and Melbourne City I had really taken an interest to the mind and how it works, reading different books, talking to different people and listening to podcasts. I felt as if I was always looking for ‘the secret’ that was going to make me be the best player I could be? Whether that be diets, sleep, your mind extra training… I was always looking for something…
Then the chance came to go up to Brisbane Roar and reunite with my first coach John Aloisi and it was the fresh start I needed, so again we packed up the house and had a long drive up to Brisbane. On this drive my girlfriend and I had some really good conversations about me and how I needed to take responsibility for who I was as a person and what was going on in my football career.
It was the worst 2 years of my career by far but I also think it was a blessing in disguise. The amount I learnt about myself is the reason my career turns around, well not straight away but youll have to tune in next week to find out what happens next
- Don’t focus solely on outcome goals
- Be present and not just thinking about the future
- Just because your sport isn’t going well doesn’t mean the rest of your life has to follow in this way
- Surround yourself with people who will always be by your side
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