After their win against Crystal Palace, Arsenal’s Laurent Koscielny has been vocal about the “mental push” he and the entire team has put in. After scoring in his first match of 2018, he explained to reporters that in addition to the fact that several key players are returning to the side, Arsenal’s return to form was the result of the team’s mental preparation.

“Today we were focused on what we want to achieve together, we know we have the quality technically and physically, but mentally, we needed to push ourselves more. We just had one target and that was to win,” he said.

While commenting that his team deserved the win because of their mental preparation, he looked confident and happy. But how much can the “mental push” help someone win, especially in sports? To find that out, it is imperative to analyze how mental preparation influences players.

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Our mind is something that can be trained, like our body. Mental preparation leads to the development of mental skills, which then influences players on and off the field in many ways. Famous poker players like Daniel Negreanu have exemplified this many times.

Developing mental skills helps players maintain their energy levels and hope consistently throughout the event. It empowers them to hang on and never give up, pushing for the win until the last moment.

It also helps players maintain a positive attitude, which helps them view their sport as an opportunity. It helps them to maintain an open mindset and constantly improve themselves.

Even further, developing mental skills keep players motivated. High levels of motivation then help them to persist through difficult tasks and times. It also helps them stay positive, even during failure and learn from their mistakes.

It also leads players to aim toward challenging goals and identify their short-term and long-term goals realistically. Doing so helps them to work consistently toward achieving their goals, even if the results are not immediately forthcoming.

Players also learn to stay calm and execute their plans, even under pressure. It helps them to manage immediate pressure situations on the ground effectively while exerting their best efforts.

Interestingly, developing mental skills help players maintain people skills, on and off the field. The reason is people skills help players to effectively and amicably manage their emotions, including anxiety.

And most importantly, developing mental skills helps players maintain high levels of concentration to stay focused throughout the game despite any level of distractions from the rivals or from outside the field. This is the what poker players target the most during their mental training.

Thus, mental preparation and the resultant mental skills play a substantial role in winning matches. Even psychology experts agree that winning in any sport, including poker, requires brain training, and football is no different. Arsenal and Laurent Koscielny have done well, not only in figuring out the importance of the “mental push” but also in implementing it.