Both the under 14s and under 16s South East regional squad participated in an introduction to sport psychology session. We looked at the importance of mentality and character as football players, and the components of psychology that can be used to enhance performance.
The girls were brilliant at feeding back and presenting their ideas. It was quite evident though that most players train physically, tactically and technically for many hours on a weekly basis. Some of them, around 7 football sessions and 2 gym sessions, but not many train the mental side of sport. Many of them, however, identified this is a big part of their game and they use their mental strength and character as a weapon for peak performance! Once athletes reach elite level, sport psychology becomes more emphasized and recognised as important.
Yet, are we failing to provide youngsters these skills and techniques for them to carry throughout their playing careers? If we give the youth of today techniques for them to use in both training and games and teach them to be their own coach, will they be more able to deal with the pressures of performance and self evaluate?
It is just great when you have coaches who appreciate the psychological part of performing and i am grateful for opportunity to share my knowledge on this subject. Thanks Chris Roberts and Davie Drummond for the opportunity. It was also great that I have worked with quite a few players of the group thanks to Hibs Girls Manager, Willie Kirk and the coaches who really support their players at a young age to gain knowledge on the mental side of sport. And also those involved in international football as psychology is now part of the education camps for under 15s through to the A squad. We are all working together to make the young people, not only better footballers, but better people.
Tracy Donachie, MSc in Performance Psychology.