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Sport psychology for football

Many of the best footballers use a sport psychologist to improve their performance. This helps them improve their mindset, confidence, concentration and leadership skills.

A sport psychologist can help to ensure that a player is competing and training with intensity, is motivated to improve and plays to their full potential. All footballers, from senior internationals to youth players can benefit from working with a football sport psychologist.

This guide has been created to help you understand how a football sport psychologist can help you be the best you can be.

Sport psychology can be the difference that makes the difference.

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.

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The key to getting better isn’t doing one thing 100% better, but finding one hundred things to do 1% better.

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.

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Football psychology makes a big difference. You can’t play at your best if you are not confident, focused and mentally tough.

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.

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World class footballers consistently improve and play their best when it really matters.

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.

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Individual talent might win games, but teams win trophies. Creating the right environment in the team is key for this.

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.

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Controlling emotions isn’t easy, but when done correctly it can add an extra element to your game. It allows you to show the real you.

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.

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There is so much that you can’t control when you compete. But you can control how you talk to yourself. This can be a vital weapon.

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.

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Being injured offers a great opportunity to become both a student of the game and a student of your own game. How well an athlete copes during this time will effect how well they return from the injury.

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.

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Growth Mindset is more than just thinking you can improve, it’s about using setbacks to consistently learn and develop.

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.

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At InnerDrive, we leave no stone unturned to help you be the best you can.

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.

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Do you think a football sport psychologist could help you get to the top of your game? Our sport psychologists are available for one-to-one coaching sessions.

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