Soccer Psychology is a means of developing a player’s mindset to improve performance. We all agree that it matters not how naturally talented a player is, if they cannot focus, motivate themselves, deal with failure, deal with success(!), and show composure.
I’m not blind to the obvious fact that physicality, technical ability and tactical understanding are the main hallmarks of elite football. But having a mind strong enough to help you cope with the many challenges you face on and off the pitch can help you get the most from your football potential. And this is true whether you are a world class player in the Barcelona squad, whether you are striving to be a professional, whether you enjoy competing every weekend for your local team or whether you just enjoy a kick about with mates in an after work five-a-side league. Dan Abrahams
A soccer psychologist works with players to help them achieve their performance goals. To realise improvements, a soccer psychologist will help athletes identify mental techniques to adopt and embed into their training programmes. Four techniques, sometimes referred to as the “cannon” fodder of applied sport psychology, are:
- Goal setting
Each technique can be learnt by adhering to general guiding principles, however the most effective techniques are tailored to meet specific performance needs. What’s most important is how a player uses each technique to ensure effectiveness. The process of developing a set of mental techniques individualised to each player’s circumstances is a primary goal of applied sport psychology.
But it is not just soccer psychologists who can help develop soccer player’s mental skills. Coaches, and players themselves, can do the same.
As Chris Harwood and Richard Anderson explain in their Coaching Psychological Skills in Youth Football book:
Terms like ‘psychology’ or ‘psychologists’ have tended to divide opinion within the football industry. Within the field of coaching, it is understandable that both knowledge and perceptions of the diverse nature of sport psychology will vary amongst coaches who have very similar technical and tactical expertise in the game. However, what is perhaps more constant across coaches is an acknowledgement that psychology is important and that characteristics such as mental toughness, motivation, and composure matter to development and performance. These characteristics, of course, are not only exclusive to players. Possession of these qualities is relevant for coaches, managers, support staff, and even parents given the demands of the modern game at youth and senior levels.
Bennion Kearny publishes a number of Soccer Psychology Books. Click on a cover to learn more.