Search This Blog

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Psychologists in football

It's rare for top level professional footballers to admit that they work with a psychologist, with David James among the few to advocate the use of psychology, working with Keith Power, who has elsewhere been described as a "motivational expert" when working with Rio Ferdinand. The ambiguity on the correct term (other variations include mental coach or mind coaches) requires knowledge of who is a qualified sport psychologist, which I talked about here.

Which Clubs do employ football psychologists?

Fabio Capello is a fan of psychology and during England's World cup campaign Christian Lattanzio worked with the team.
Chelsea also employ a sport psychologist, Bruno Demichelis.
Sam Allardyce used a strong sport science team to good effect when at Bolton including Mike Forde and now at Blackburn, Jamil Qureshi, small article on both here

An excellent study looked at the application of sport psychology in English football and some of the perceptions and barriers.

Some of the individual players to openly use psychology include:
Matthew Upson working with a sport psychologist, Mike Griffiths. Other examples include InnerDrive who freely admit working with professional footballers: Carlton Cole, Junior Stanislas and Anthony Stokes.

What's holding footballers back?

It may be that they don't want to be viewed as weak and that there's something wrong with them. David James discussed this in a piece for the Guardian

"I have used a qualified sports psychologist for some years now. It's been of immeasurable help and my only regret is that I didn't start it sooner. In 1996 I tried to introduce the idea of using a sports psychologist to one of the backroom staff at Liverpool, but the conversation was loudly interrupted by one of the coaches shouting, 'Jamo! What you moaning for?' Later, the backroom staff member told me that he'd been banging on at the club for years to get a psychologist, but their view was if you can't sort yourself out you're not good enough to play."

This comes from a misunderstanding of the role of a sport psychologist, if you have a clinical disorder then you go need a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. A sport psychologist will focus more on your preparation, your lifestyle and self-improvement both on and off the pitch. The role of sport psychologists is likely to grow and with greater control of the profession now being established, as well as clearer career routes, hopefully more people will recognise their role and utility. As can be seen from some of the examples clubs are being more open about their use and recognising that any small edge can be beneficial.

No comments:

Post a Comment