SET THE SCENE
Create a professional environment by ensuring the dressing room is clean, the players’ shirts are hung up and the physio kit, refreshments and equipment are laid out in the middle of the dressing room. This will make the players feel important and sets a high standard for them to follow. Fill the dressing room with natural light and fresh air to energise the players. They will respond with effort on the pitch.
GREET THE PLAYERS PERSONALLY
As soon as the players get through the door, let them know their value by shaking their hands and making eye contact. Inject positivity into the pre-match talk by discussing plus points from training and the previous game. This gets players to reflect on things they’ve done well and visualise positive images.
More after the break
Print individual player instructions and place them under their peg; for example, “Be strong in tackles, win your aerial battles, stay calm in possession.” This will reinforce their strengths and ability before kick-off as well as create focus. Pin up set plays in designated areas for defenders, midfielders and strikers. Creating clarity of roles and responsibilities creates confidence before the game.
ROUSE WITH COLOUR
Deck the dressing room in red to fire the players up for battle; perhaps team towels can be red or you could even incorporate red into your matchday outfit. Research has found this colour is associated with power, dominance and war. If you’re putting up motivational messages, make sure they’re in blue. This has royal connotations and ignites a sub-conscious process of thinking success is inevitable and deserved.
MOTIVATE WITH MUSIC
Let the players choose the music in the dressing room. They will respond to the sounds they’re tuned into, creating an emotional momentum. This instils an atmosphere of togetherness before kick-off.
INSPIRE WITH A MESSAGE
Inspirational quotes are a great way to motivate, share ideas and obviously inspire. Use quotes that fit the performance situation. If you’ve just won and want to reinforce hard work, try ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’. If you’ve lost and want to boost confidence levels, use ‘The biggest mistake of all is never to risk making one’ or ‘Don’t let what you can’t do get in the way of what you can'.