Aston Villa skipper Ron Vlaar today revealed he has used a special psychological technique called ‘mind-setting’ to help keep at the top of his game.
The Dutch international discovered the method while he battled back from long-term knee injuries while he was at Feyenoord and has continued to employ it after his recovery.
“I’m a real believer in mind-setting. It’s a technique in which you ‘play’ little bits of games before you even step on to the pitch,” explained Vlaar.
“You recognise certain situations you will have to deal with during a game and you play them out in your mind.
“It worked great for me at Feyenoord last year. We had a difficult start to the season but it became a great one as we finished second and I achieved my goal of playing for the Netherlands in the Euros, which was amazing.
“A personal trainer in Holland introduced me to the technique. Every minute of every training session you have to succeed, you have to get better. You have to have the will to succeed.
“You also have to visualise doing the right things during games. Somebody told me about mind-setting. I began setting targets.
“When I got back on a pitch, I was so focused. Every time I play I want to go to another level.”
Vlaar, who joined Villa from Feyenoord for £3.2m, also insisted he will approach this weekend’s clash with Premier League champions Manchester City this weekend as he would any other game.
“There’s no such thing as a ‘big’ game for me,” said the centre-back, ahead of trip to the Etihad Stadium.
“I think it’s bad if you only get motivated for ‘big’ games. So I’m as motivated in training as I will be playing on Saturday.
“I am a player who likes to win every fight, every game. I am looking forward to playing against strikers I have not played against before.
“If we play like a team, act like a team, then I believe we are hard to beat.”