What is sport psychology?
Sport psychology helps footballers train with more focus, play with more confidence, and reflect more effectively after a match. This helps them maintain their motivation, resilience, emotional control and overall well-being. Sport psychologists can also help footballers cope with the stress and frustration of injury and transition back into playing after an injury has occurred.
Match day performance is a combination of technical, tactical, physical and mental performance. Here’s an experiment: think of your best and your worst game. Now, assign percentages to each of the four areas to explain the difference in performance between the two games. You will probably have allocated a significant proportion of the difference to your mental game, but how much work and training do you put into it compared to the other three areas?
Footballers at the top of their game recognise that a football sport psychologist can help them improve on their weaknesses and further develops their strengths. The very best footballers leave no stone unturned in their quest for success and a sport psychologist can help them do this. With an ever-increasing pressure to perform, working with someone to maximise the mental side of the game is quickly becoming essential for the best footballers.
What is sport psychology? – Sport Psychology today
Our Sport Psychology videos
The secret to success
What does a football sport psychologist do?
A football sport psychologist can help footballers of all levels become the best player they can be. A football sport psychologist works in two main ways;
- The first is when a player asks for help with something they are struggling with; for example, some footballers may be struggling with a lack of confidence or poor self-discipline on the pitch.
- Other players work with a football psychologist to improve their overall performance. Whilst they may not have a specific problem, they recognise that their mindset is such an important part of being a great footballer that it needs to be worked on and coached just as much as the other aspects of their game.
The job of a sport psychologist in football is to help you become a more complete player on and off the pitch. Not only can a football sport psychologist help you with the strategies and mental skills to perform to your very best while playing, but they can also help you prepare better off the pitch by helping you become a student of the game.
Sport psychology and the pressure of knockout football
Sport Psychologist football
Why football is a pressure cooker for mental health issues – The Telegraph
How does sport psychology apply to football?
Having the right mindset in football and the ability to perform under pressure is vitally important. As Andrea Pirlo once said: “Football is played with your head. Your feet are just tools”. It therefore makes sense to train your way of thinking so you can really maximise your performances.
The best footballers play at their best consistently by keeping their emotions in check, thinking clearly and making the right decisions. Above all, they are motivated to improve and thrive in pressure situations. Big players put in big performances in big matches. It is interesting to consider that, despite being so important, not many players invest that much time in training this area of their game. That’s where a football psychologist can help.
The pressure on youth footballers
Playing brilliant football: a sport psychologist's guide
How footballers use sport psychology – The Telegraph
How can a sport psychologist help me play better football?
Performing Under Pressure
A football sport psychologist can help you perform better during matches by improving your:
- Confidence – Knowing what to think about before and during a match;
- Concentration – Blocking out distractions and focusing on whats important;
- Intensity – Playing at your best for the duration of a match;
- Decision Making – Being able to make the correct decisions quickly and clearly;
- Consistency – Playing to your best in training and matches.
All round development
As well as playing your best when the pressure is on, a football sport psychologist can help you develop all round by improving your:
- Motivation – Having the drive to train at your best;
- Coping skills – The ability to bounce back from setbacks and poor performance;
- Learning – Learning from your performances to improve for next time;
- Attention – Having a clear focus on what is important to improve and play better football;
- Leadership and playing with others – Effective communication with other teammates.
How to perform under pressure
6 ways to reduce stress
9 ways Olympians develop resilience
How can a sport psychologist help my football team?
The most successful football teams are those that have a well-functioning squad. Traditionally, sport psychologists work with football teams in three main areas:
- They work with individual players in the team to raise their personal performance;
- They work with groups of players in the team to make sure that they are working effectively as a unit;
- They work with management and coaching staff to help create a great environment and ensure that their feedback and leadership are as effective as possible.
There are a variety of ways that football psychologists help within the team environment. We draw on our experience and knowledge of psychology to help teams that we work with. Here are some of the areas that our football psychologists cover:
- Motivation – The drive to work hard for others, on and off the pitch;
- Togetherness – Making sure that the group are united and working together towards a common goal;
- Goals – Helping teams to identify team goals to work towards;
- Leadership – Exploring leadership styles for players and coaching staff;
- Feedback – How to give feedback and receive feedback in more constructive ways;
- Communication – Effectively communicating on and off the pitch.
How the psychology of the England football team could change your life – The Guardian
6 ways to develop a winning team culture
7 reasons to build a good team around you
Football sport psychologists improve your emotional control
Managing your thoughts and emotions whilst you play is often the difference between good and great footballers. Sometimes, emotions are complicated because they can be both a good and a bad thing when you are playing. For example, some footballers play better when their emotions are running high; however, another footballer might lose focus if they are not calm enough. Knowing how your emotions affect you is key.
A football sport psychologist will recognise that players experience a range of emotions whilst playing, which is why they work hard to help footballers learn how to control and use their emotions so that they can play at their best.
10 top tips to help control your emotions in sport (part 1)
Football sport psychology – Fear of failure
Emotional control and composure in sports – Sport Psychology Today
Football sport psychologists improve your self-talk
The way you talk to yourself is vitally important. How a footballer talks to themselves can affect their concentration, persistence, stress levels and their emotions, which in turn affects their motivation, confidence and overall performance. The way they talk to themselves can also affect their belief that they can always improve and their ability to deal with distractions.
Self-talk is an important tool that everyone can benefit from. The key to overcoming negative self-talk is to recognise that you are doing it, call a stop to it, then say something both helpful and positive. The best footballers do this. This is a skill that can be learnt, just as any football skill is. With the help of a football sport psychologist, this process can be accelerated.
The 3 worst words to say to yourself
6 ways to improve how you talk to yourself
Challenging unhelpful beliefs
Football sport psychologists help with injury
There are two types of players: those that are injured and those that aren’t injured yet. When a major injury occurs in a footballer’s career, it can be a stressful and lonely time. Athletes with poor coping skills can find being injured a very challenging time, which can have a major impact on how they feel, think and behave.
Injuries can often be a bad time in a footballer’s career, no matter what level they play at. By helping athletes use this time effectively, a football psychologist can help footballers recover from injury quicker and more effectively. It can also make it less stressful and more productive.
How to help injured athletes
7 ways of developing resilience
The emotional stress of a sports injury – Verywell Fit
Football sport psychologists help to create winning mindsets
Footballers with Growth Mindsets believe that their abilities can be improved. By focusing on learning and improving, they ensure they stay hungry for success and are more likely to develop their abilities. In all walks of life, people with a Growth Mindset tend to learn faster and are more successful than their fixed mindset counterparts. A good sport psychologist will help footballers and teams develop a Growth Mindset, which can boost player development to new levels.
Examples of fixed mindsets (the belief that your abilities and skills can’t be improved) can be seen on the training ground all the time. For example, some footballers will never practice what they’re bad at because they think it will never improve. Others often blame their own or their team’s set-backs on others around them instead of taking responsibility for their bad performance.
One way to help develop a Growth Mindset is to help others see failure as a necessary part of learning. In doing this, you can reduce pessimism, increase self-esteem, and stop players from avoiding challenges.
How do you actually develop a Growth Mindset?
Football sport psychology for parenting youth footballers
Developing excellence in young athletes
Working with a football sport psychologist
No matter your level, our football sport psychologists will help you reach your full potential by tailoring our work to your specific needs. We have worked with a variety of footballers in the form of one-to-one sessions, as well as in groups workshops. This includes Premiership footballers and England internationals.
Our one-to-one sessions often take place in a footballer’s home, so that they feel comfortable. This also helps ensure that it is discreet and confidential. In these sessions, we explore a variety of strategies to develop a footballer’s ability to perform when it matters most, as well as focusing on their all-round development.
In our group workshops, we work with footballers, parents and coaches in a practical and interactive way to aid understanding of psychological principles and develop strategies to put them into practice.
Parenting young athletes
How to help your child in sports
One-to-one coaching with a football sport psychologist
We have had the pleasure and privilege of working with some of the best footballers in the world. These include senior internationals who have played for England, Scotland, Wales and Japan. We have worked with many players from a range of clubs that include Manchester United, Tottenham, West Ham, Crystal Palace, Watford, and Brighton and Hove Albion.
We work with individuals on a private confidential basis. Sessions take place wherever our clients prefer. This includes at the training ground or at their house.
Here’s one quick tip. Focus on what is most important and what you can control. What three things do you need to do well in order to have a great game? Focusing on these and not on any distractions allows you to get into the zone faster.
You can break down mental toughness into three sections: before, during, and after a match. Before, it is all about good focus in the build-up. During, it is about performing well under pressure. After, it is about reflecting and learning as much as possible from the experience. Each of these areas can be improved.
Yes. Some sport psychologists are great university lecturers and researchers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always translate into helping footballers play better. We are different. We have worked with hundreds of footballers over many years, and have helped academy footballers earn pro contracts, first team players play better, and helped senior internationals represent their country. So, the answer is: yes, we do.
Get in touch with us here. We are happy to have a chat about what we do and how you could play better football by working with a sport psychologist.
Here are some of football psychology blogs we have written:
- What to think about before a match
- A sport psychologist’s guide to player celebration
- A sport psychologist’s guide to fan celebration
- Perfect penalties
- Penalties: myths vs facts
- 8 ways to maximise training
More resources that could be of interest: