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In recent years more and more strengthens the role of psychological science in modern soccer. The performance of players are directly intertwined with the psychological state and in s11 to you can find tips and techniques for the psychological support of your athletes.

It is a common phenomenon to observe athletes perform better during their training sessions than they do during their competitions. Whilst performing for competitions they sometimes seem incapable of reaching their peak performance due to many reasons.

Why does this phenomenon occur so often?

There are a lot of factors that can determine sports performance especially during a match, such as anxiety and worry concerning the performance itself. Anxiety regarding the competition or match can be debilitative or facilitative. Facilitative anxiety results in improved performance and helps athletes to increase their effort and preparation. It can also motivate them. On the other hand, debilitative anxiety results in worsened performance. Most athletes worry excessively regarding their competition, as they want to satisfy their coach, co-players, administrative staff, fans or even themselves. Thus, the pressure they feel about winning leaves them incapable of concentrating to the match, affects their decision-making and reduces their enjoyment and self-confidence.

In addition, some other important factors which can affect performance are: low self-confidence, adjustment difficulties as well as other exogenous factors such as family problems or problems with other people meaning the coach or co-players. Finally, an injury can affect an athlete’s performance both physically and psychologically since an injured athlete needs time to recover and then get back to the level that he previously was. An injury produces an immediate imbalance in athlete’s life. It affects the athlete’s self-confidence and self-esteem. The experience of an injury can lead an athlete to the formation of many negative emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and concentration problems. An injured athlete is often concerned about gaining his previous condition or even if he will ever be able to perform again. Moreover, an injury can cause psychological trauma to an athlete, as he might be afraid that he will be re-injured.


So, how can we help athletes to perform better and reach their peak performance?

Firstly, before maximizing an athlete’s performance, we have to identify the factors, which affect his performance. After pointing out these factors, the Coach and the Sport Psychologist will work together, and then with the athlete through discussion and counseling, in order to solve his issues. During this process, empathy, trust and rapport are very important.

Secondly, as one of the most important ingredients of an optimum performance is goal setting, all athletes must set both long and short-term goals. Goal setting can help athletes to remain concentrated and focused, in order to achieve their goals. Itmust be stated that goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based (SMART).

The role of the coach is also very important. The essence of the coach comes down to teaching, motivating and supporting athletes. How? Through rewarding, encouraging, and supporting the athlete during, through and after a match or practice.

The Sport Psychologist can help both athletes and coaches to reach their peak performance either through counseling, assessing and educating athletes on how to use the main mental skills such as: imagery, self talk, anxiety management, goal setting and relaxation.

The contribution of the Sport Psychologist is very important in Sports as he/she helps the athletes to develop their personality and improve themselves. Besides this, the development of a close relationship with the coach, the collaboration of the two, can effectively support and provide a variety of techniques and methods to athletes so they are helped towards enhancing their performance and achieving their goals.

It is clear that an athlete’s performance can be affected by different factors but can also be optimized. Effort and time are needed along with the co-operation between the coach, the athlete and Sport psychologist. This specific triangle is vital for enhancing an athlete’s performance. The emotional stability and success of an athlete can be attained through this triangle.

The decision on whether working or not with a Sport Psychologist primarily rests upon the hands of the Coach and then to the Athlete. Sport Psychology aims at the optimization of each and every athlete through a wide spectrum of methods and by teaching new skills and techniques to both coach and athlete, offering the athlete the chance to eventually obtain control of his psychology to the highest level possible.

To conclude, everything arises within us thus we have to work from within in order to have results and get over plateaus. The right counseling and mentoring are our means to achieving success.

1.How can I help an athlete to perform better ?

Sports injury is a common phenomenon among athletes since the majority of them experience an injury during their sport participation. An injury can be one of the worst experiences for an athlete as it can mean a number of different things to an athlete besides the physical pain they experience.

Under which circumstances can an injury be caused?

An injury can be caused by different reasons. It might be caused by physical factors, such as musculoskeletal anomaly, previous injury, poor field condition, over-training, bad weather conditions. Also, match and training conditions can cause an injury, as well as the time of participation and the sport mechanism. Finally, psychosocial factors namely lack of confidence, stress, negative thoughts/mood (intenseness, depression, anger, fatigue) can also cause an injury.

As a result, an injury produces an immediate imbalance in an athlete’s life for it can bring many psychological changes. Injuries affect the athlete’s self- confidence, self-esteem and can also become connected to fear, anger, sadness, isolation, intenseness, anxiety and lack of concentration.


How can we help athletes to cope with their injury and manage their psychological changes?

Sport Psychology can contribute to injury rehabilitation in several ways. How?

A Sport Psychologist can aid athletes to deal effectively with their injury by helping them with their injury process. A sport psychologist assists the athlete by providing him with emotional support for accepting and understanding the injury. Furthermore, by building trust and rapport with the injured athlete, a sport psychologist can inform the athlete about the nature of his injury, the goals of the treatment and the details of his restoration in corporation of the medical staff. Finally, the Sport Psychologist can teach the athlete how to use the main mental skills, which can help him adjust to the restoration process, to manage his pain, reduce his stress and anxiety and increase his self-esteem. These skills are: goal setting, relaxation, imagery, and positive self-talk. The usage of these skills can also be used to enhance performance on a consistent basis.

Social as well as emotional supports are very important for an injured athlete too. Social support includes coaches, athletic trainers, teammates, family and friends. Social support can be of use to injured athletes to endure their difficult times and accept a comprehensive rehabilitation program. Undoubtedly, social support is very important since it can help athletes to establish their self-confidence.

An injury can happen under many different circumstances. A comprehensive rehabilitation program, which includes social-emotional support, medical and psychological support can help the athlete to cope with his injury, recover and successfully return to his previous condition. Coaches as well as team physicians must consider the psychological and physical factors, whilst treating and coordinating care for injured athletes. Finally, it is important to highlight that systematic use of psychological skills can prevent the likelihood of an injury.

2.Injuries: The Psychology of an Injury

Goal Setting is a huge topic, which is practical in nature. Goal Setting is used across numerous contexts and anyone can set a goal for any aspect of life.

Goal setting helps us improve an athlete’s motivation and commitment, stay focused on what to accomplish. It is also very helpful on assessing our strengths and weaknesses, as well as tracks our performance and improvement.


Every successful manager or athlete or achiever set goals.

What is a goal?

How we set SMARTER goals?

What is a Goal?

A goal is a target or a specific standard or accomplishment that one strives to attain’ (Locke and Latham 2006; 2002).

Goals are proposed to influence performance in 4 distinct ways:

  1. Increasing focus and directs attention on a task
  2. Mobilising effort
  3. Enhancing persistence
  4. Developing new learning strategy

How we set goals?

You must set short term, intermediate, and long term goals.

Process (How we do something), Performance and Outcome Goals (What we do)

More specifically, process goals are focused on improving specific behaviours, exhibited throughout a performance (e.g. skill technique), whilst performance goals are focused on the Specification of the performance (e.g. skill achievement). Finally, outcome goals are focused upon outcome of an event (e.g. winning).

For example a football player can set the following goals:

Outcome- Winning the game

Performance- Making accurate and successful passes

Process- food placement on the ball, spin on release

In order to have an efficient goal setting, our goals should be SMARTER.

What I mean?

Your goals must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable/attainable/assignable/action oriented/agreed
  • Realistic/relevant
  • Time-Based
  • Evaluated/ethical/ecological
  • Rewarding/rewarded/recorded/re-evaluated.

Try to follow the following Goal Setting Principles:

  1. Set specific goals
  2. Use a mix of process, performance, & outcome goals
  3. Set practice and competition goals
  4. Record goals
  5. Provide evaluation and feedback
  6. Develop goal achievement strategy
  7. Set moderately difficult but realistic goals
  8. Consider the participant’s personality and motivation
  9. Foster goal commitment
  10. Provide goal support
  11. Set long and short term goals


  • Which is the perfect long-term goal for you, if all goes well by your potential?
  • What is your dream goal for this season?
  • What is the realistic goal for this year, based on your capabilities?
  • What is your goal for this month? Where are you going to focus more?
  • What is your goal for today? Where are you going to focus more, in which area?

Concentrate on the first step. Write down the first step you are going to follow.


Is the Goal SMARTER?

What is the Strategy you are going to follow?


  1. “Write your goals down.
  2. “Pick long term, medium term and short term goals to create stepping stones to take you from where you are, to where you want be, in gradual steps.
  3. “Don’t constantly think too far ahead – just approach each session one at a time. Don’t worry about how far away from your dream or goal you are.”
  4. “Commit yourself to your plan. You won’t see results immediately but a big part of it is being mentally committed to the process. Be prepared for the fact it won’t be easy.”
  5. “Have a way to measure your performance objectively. Chart your progress so you can be honest with yourself, leaving no room for interpretation. This is the only way to truly analyse your progression, so you can see if you’re improving or if the plan’s not working.”

"Dreams are free. Goals have a cost. Time, effort, sacrifice, and sweat. How will you pay for your goals?"

Usain Bolt

3.Why setting Goals is very important aspect in our life? How we set “SMARTER” goals?

The period of the pandemic due to COVID-19 has caused a lot of differences in the field of sports and the participants are called to adapt to new data. A relatively new and special condition is the absence of spectators. The stadiums remain closed, the matches are held in empty stands and the environment of the stadium looks "unusual".

How easy is it for footballers to get used to and how much can it ultimately affect the performance of teams?


A teams "home" stadium, in addition to the space, includes the fans of each team. Their absence in the first phase, seems to "weaken" them, removing any advantage that their presence gives. Due to the presence of the people, the footballers are encouraged and can get a push for more effort and activation. On the contrary, the "guests" experience the pressure of the presence of the people as a deterrent to their personal performance, making them sometimes passive and "affected".

Example of a special condition: fans will be silent when their own team prepares for a penalty, allowing their player to concentrate without distraction. But for the opponent, the condition will be different… ..

The reactions of the people are a positive feeling of feedback, the home team makes as much effort as possible, looking for more positive reactions. The same mechanism works for the host team, just the opposite. No matter how experienced or confident a player is, with a crowd of people shouting against him, it is easy to lose focus.


Our brains are trained to seek pleasure or reward and to avoid suffering and pain. Thus, even players who do not consciously let the fans bother them will be affected in some way. Their performance will decrease normally, affecting their effort levels.

The home crowd can also act as a distraction. Guests will lose focus for just a fraction of a second, that's enough… ..

On a personal level, the audience "helps" you to overcome mistakes in the fight or to stay in them, if you are the "opponent". Also, some teams or some players enjoy the role of "opponent" and find motivation in the negative atmosphere. When the spectators are absent, the extra motivating factor will be missing.


In summary, the spectators are for the footballers the impetus for more effort, the momentum with which they claim the victory, the self-denial that they will show by chasing the score. Maybe the last sentence justifies why in football we now see scores in games with big goal differences. The factor that will put a "brake" on the drop in performance and will show the importance of trying for some is missing …….

Dortmund-Stuttgart: 1-5; With the presence of 80 thousand spectators, it would seem impossible… ..

4.Stadiums without fans: the effect on footballers

The transition of an athlete from the academies to the first team is a dynamic journey full of challenges with the aim of achieving ideal efficiency and the best possible adaptation to the new, very demanding and stressful environment.

In the course of this process, it is not simply - as we usually assume - that the athletic performance and its fruitful adaptation to the new data are tested. The levels of competence of the child-athlete in terms of social interaction, psychological management, organizational arrangement, environmental understanding and effective orientation in the new conditions are tested.

The child-athlete is not simply required to be able to cope technically and regularly in the first team, nor of course is he required to maintain a high level of physical condition in order to be able to follow the increasing rhythms of training and competition obligations.

At a high level the child athlete is called upon to dramatically update and improve a range of perceptions and beliefs, which catalyze the way of thinking, the analysis and the experience of emotions and consequently the way, the time and the productivity of action both within as well as off-field.


The transition of the child-athlete to the first team creates demands for a more mature personality, with the possibility of critical thinking for the recognition of the new way of playing, the positive and negative points of oneself within this framework, the rapid identification and correction of mistakes, the effect that this pressure has on the decision-making process, the building of a fighter mentality, which can manage both victory and defeat, both the predictable and the unpredictable, both right and wrong.

An athlete child who should build a personality based on discipline, cooperation, responsibility, method, endurance, perseverance, patience, dedication, focus, humility, and most importantly, adaptability.

That is, its ability to be receptive to new experiences, to decode the data, the rules and the relationships of people in each new environment but also to use in its favor every condition, every new stimulus and every new data, without impulses, without inflating it, but also without easy frustrations that lead to setbacks, disincentives and resignation.

Each transition process, which depending on the child - athlete can last up to 5 years, is divided into 4 phases. Preparation, orientation, adaptation and stabilization. Throughout this process, the child-athlete is in dire need of a supportive coaching and parenting environment, which will leave the channels of communication wide open, will not be limited to sterile criticism but instead will inform, analyze, direct, guide, it will calm down, inspire, instruct whenever needed and restrain whenever necessary.


The child-athlete at each step in the first team must know:

• What are the new requirements that coaches have from it, what roles does it have, what is the appropriate way to work for the good of the team

• What is the context, the history, the philosophy, the dynamics, the brand name of the team in which it has joined

• What is the appropriate way to train him to improve individual handicaps, both technically and physically, mentally and emotionally?

• What does it mean for him and his team, his indifference, lack of attention, complacency in his talent, arrogance and arrogance for his selection in the first team

• How important is the role of good communication for the optimization of interpersonal relationships within the group context but also for the fastest and most effective confrontation of any environmental obstacles that are raised, any individual fears, dilemmas, deadlocks

• What is the right way to claim, to challenge, to compete, to seek acceptance, recognition and even respect for one's efforts and dreams?

• What is the right way to resist the sirens of publicity, the traps of social media


In any case, it is good for all of us to remember something essential. That no effective transition from the academy to the first team will take place smoothly without ensuring conditions of healthy competition of the child - athlete. The child-athlete in order to take advantage of opportunities, must take opportunities. He has to fight, to feel an active and integral member of the team, to feel that he has a remarkable role in it.

Statistics from the United Kingdom, moreover, show that only 1 in 200 children who sign up to the Academies eventually find their way to professional football and less than 1% of those who do.

5.From the Academy to the first team: A transition full of requirements!