Supporting a Professional Footballer during Challenging Times

Soccer Psychology Tips: Case Study: Supporting a Professional Footballer during Challenging Times

It’s important to recognize footballers are human beings too

The Client:

A professional footballer who played at international level.

The Challenge:

The client had lost his confidence and his desire to train hard.  In matches, he was on the periphery when he was selected.  He felt lost and helpless to overcome the problem, which had gone on for around 2 months.  Prior to the dip in form and loss in motivation he had positive experiences at other clubs in his professional career to date.  He was not enjoying training and wasn’t the best person to live with at home.

The Objectives:

  • To help him find his motivation for training.
  • To get back to enjoying football and life, in challenging times.
  • To find a balance between training, playing and thinking about football and his personal life.
  • To improve his communication skills with the coaching staff, family and friends. 
  • To help him rebuild his shattered confidence so that he could go onto the pitch and express himself.

The Process:

Over a three month period we met every 1 to 3 weeks for one hour using zoom video conferencing.  The sessions included:

  • A needs analysis was conducted by myself the Sports Psychologist with the player and his partner (He wanted the work to be private, away from the football club which is very common).
  • We reviewed his daily routines on and off the pitch, his strengths and what it felt like when he was on form, energised and motivated.
  • We used imagery interventions in sessions and where audio recordings were created to support him get the feel for being at his best and over-come different challenges.
  • An i3 profile was used to aid his awareness of his personality strengths and environmental preferences. This helped us recognise how COVID restrictions were impacting on him when playing the sport and at home.
  • We reviewed what was important to him and his values.
  • We checked what expectations that could be holding him back and what was helpful to improve his emotional intelligence, using some exercises associated with cognitive behavioural therapy.
  • Mini goals were agreed after each and every session so that he had something to work on, practically in training and in matches.

The Conclusion

  • The footballer enjoyed all of the sessions that we did and was great to work with.
  • He worked hard on himself and to change his mindset.
  • He altered the way he approached training.
  • He understood warm ups were there to prepare his mind and body to hit the ground running in training and matches and stopped simply going through the motions.
  • Off the pitch, he was a nicer person to live with and be around despite limitations on what he could do to escape the pressures of playing elite professional football.
  • He worked with a business partner to set up a business venture taking his mind away from football.
  • He rediscovered his love for training and competing to win in matches.

If you’d like to learn more about how I could help you or a team-mate why not get in touch.

Or if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends, team-mates, parents or coaches.  You can also join our online community – THE SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY HUB – for regular Sports Psychology tips, podcasts, motivation and support.

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.  

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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