The increasing use of psychology in football

Psychology is increasingly being used in top-level football to boost performances and help players cope with the pressure of competing on such a stage. Mark Howard, Head of Sports Science at Blackburn Rovers Football Club, has told the Lancashire Telegraph that such practices have become much more commonplace in the sport over the last decade.

Mr Howard was speaking after the club welcomed expert speakers from far and wide to talk about such matters, including representatives from Manchester United Football Club, British cycling experts and rugby professionals.

The discussions centred on themes such as psychology, biomechanics, sports technology, performance analysis, diet and physiology.

Mr Howard stated: "Certainly in football over the last ten years there has been a huge emergence of sports science teams."

Having began as an idea to bring experts in to improve services to the Blackburn Rovers team, the discussions led to a full week of events being organised and a residential course was set up.

Dr George Sik, a Chartered Psychologist who once wrote a book on the psychology of football with the former Chelsea and Scotland winger Pat Nevin, comments:

"It is encouraging that those who run football are increasingly open to psychology and no longer see it as one of the ‘dark arts’. In helping players to focus and set goals or come to terms with self-confidence issues following injuries and disappointing runs, as well as using personality profiling to understand and coach players more effectively, the possibilities for applying psychology within the game are vast."

This is interesting to observe, especially coming from within Blackburn Rovers Football Club, where due to management changes the mental challenges on players are surely at an all time high. This is well reported, and social media sites will only add to the tensions. There are various football reports and posts on football social networks such as showing Blackburn Players under-performing and fans becoming increasingly frustrated. Perhaps more advanced skills are needed by coaches, such as NLP techniques perhaps? And helping players manage comments about them on social media sites.