Home / Insights / Football Sports Psychology: 7 ways to get a SUPREME edge

By Adam Streeter | MINDSET | January 11, 2024

Football Sports Psychology: 7 ways to get a SUPREME edge

For professional players to be at their best, they have to have all aspects of their game completely optimised.

From technical, tactical, physical, recovery, nutrition & sleep, all these areas add up to make the complete footballer.

However, one area stands out in separating the best players in the world from the average ones; a player’s football sports psychology and football mindset.

From dealing with pressure to bouncing back from spells of low confidence, this area really does affect all other areas & can define the world’s best to the players that never could quite make the jump to the professional ranks.

In this article, we are going to look at how football sports psychology can be a vital aspect when it comes to playing at the top of your potential. How it’s used in professional football, and how it can help you and your team.

We have also created related articles below to dive deeper to explain how football sports psychology can be crucial in helping you.

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You can jump to any of these articles to learn more about them here.

We have put this guide together to walk you through everything to do with football sports psychology to give you the understanding to see if it is something you think could help improve your game.

In this article we cover

What is Football Sports Psychology all about?

We can all relate to moments when confidence is high & it feels like nothing can go wrong, similarly we all know what it feels like when you’re having a bad day, or worse, on a run of poor form. 

Now take these emotions and feelings and put them into professional football. Media scrutiny, Thousands of fans and playing for your next contract. Sport, especially football, really does take all of these psychological elements to their maximum

You can easily see how some of the best players in the world are the ones that can control their emotions, stay level-headed & deal with huge amounts of pressure in the most pivotal moments

Having worked with professional football players at the top of their game on a daily basis and helping these athletes develop their football mindset and psychology, we want to share with you in detail some common techniques/areas to explore & try and learn lessons from some of the best players in the world to be able to help your game.

This is the ultimate guide to football sports psychology.

It is not all negative emotions though, what about positive psychology? Is there any way that a football player can use their mind to help him or herself play better?

Of course, there is!

Below we unpick some of these amazing football sports psychology tools, tips and tricks to help you develop your football as fast as possible.

If you want to go straight to our premium content. Grab the mindset masterclass now & get walked through 7 key fundamental areas of football sports psychology to implement into your game today.

With 7 video lessons, 7 activity videos & 7 workbooks you’ll have the knowledge, tools & methods to improve your football psychology & performance immediatelyGet it now

Imagine being able to let go of all of your negative thoughts, and learn about ways to improve your football sports psychology for better performance on the field – starting with next week’s game!

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What is Football Sports Psychology?

Football Sports Psychology is a specific branch of psychology science that deals with all aspects of mental health, behaviour and human performance. It is a study of the mind, how it works, and also how people think, feel and behave. 

In football, Football sports psychology is important because there are psychological issues you will face as a player on a day-to-day basis in the most extreme situations.

For example, if you miss an easy shot during a match, you may fear taking another shot in case you miss it again. This fear of missing shots can affect your performance, it can lead to losing matches, could result in a loss in form & subsequently, you could end up not being picked.

However, if you have high levels of resilience and some techniques to be able to deal with these moments, you can quickly get back to a place of thriving and playing at your best once more. 

How is sports psychology used in football?

Psychology within football is used by footballers to ultimately improve their performance. 

Footballers undergo psychological training in order to better deal with the mental side of the game. The main area of focus for you is on improving your confidence, motivation, concentration, reflecting/reviewing your training & match performance and setting goals to understand where you want to get to and how to get there using purposeful practice. 

Professional players use many football sports psychology techniques to improve their mental game and we are going to explore them in detail and give you some amazing tools to help you immediately including positive self-talk, visualization, and meditation.

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How can football sports psychology help you?

Footballers are often required to perform in high-pressure situations, and the mental aspect of the game is often overlooked. Football psychology can help a footballer become more mentally resilient, reduce anxiety, improve concentration, discipline, and confidence.

When a footballer has a better understanding of their thoughts and feelings, they are able to make better decisions on the field which can lead to better performances.

Sport psychology for football

How can football sports psychology help the team?

The idea behind football sports psychology is that it is the collective mental state of the team that determines whether they will succeed or fail. One way to help improve this is to create a sense of unity.

That means that team members should feel they are all in this together, with each member understanding what it takes to win. You can also help players mentally by focusing on their strengths and ensuring they are well-supported.

Having the right mindset is an important part of the game, and can often dictate whether or not a team succeeds or fails.

The right mindset can come from the team’s coach, the team’s captain, but it’s also important for each player to know their role on the team.

One of the most important things for a football team is to have a ‘collective identity’. This means that they all know what their goals are and they work towards achieving them, together.

In this article, we will dive into a number of common practical things you can start doing to improve this area of you, your game & your team.

Football Sports Psychology: A competitive advantage

Sports psychology is a growing area in the field of sports. Football sports psychology was not recognized as an official discipline in the past. However, in recent years sports psychology has become a recognized and respected field in the world of elite sports.

In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association in 2002, it was found that a little more than 50% of athletes use some type of psychological technique to boost their performance in competition. Most athletes find that the mental aspect is the hardest part of competing at a high level.

The study also found that almost 80% of athletes feel that using sports psychology helps them perform better at their sport.

In addition, 70% say they would recommend this method to others who are competing at a high level.

According to a study from the University of Surrey, nearly nine out of ten professional footballers use psychology to help them perform better. In fact, almost half of all the players surveyed said that employing sports psychologists was something they couldn’t live without.

What’s more, many of those who haven’t used sports psychology before would like to try it.

One study also found that one in five footballers were interested in seeing how it could help their game, and this is an increase from last year.

The researchers also found that sports psychologists now influence the training methods and performance strategy at many clubs. And those who have used these services said they found them extremely beneficial; three-quarters felt that sports psychology had helped them play better.

The statistics above definitely represent our experience within elite football. 

Every player and coach you speak to (regardless of experience & playing level) almost always say it is one of the most valuable areas of the game, making or breaking players & your performance. However, we see so rarely players proactively working with a psychologist or someone regularly to discuss their game, their experiences, learning & reflective practices.

Often what we see is players only consider this type of work when they are experiencing a negative period spell in their game. We want to change this.

We want to bring football sports psychology to the mainstream. All players can benefit from psychology and we start this mission by providing this detailed article in some common areas to start exploring in your game. 

Take action today. Find an area of this article that interests you and begin working on your mental game. We know it will make you a better player. Set yourself apart and become 1 of the 20%!!

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When to use Football Sports Psychology?

Football psychology is a widespread topic in football as it is a crucial factor that determines the success or failure of a player or team. There are many situations and instances where you can use football psychology to your advantage and better performance. Some include:

  • In the event of a missed chance or goal from the opponent, football sports psychology can play an important role in remaining calm and confident.
  • When the referee has made a poor decision – stay level-headed calm & collected and focus on the next job. 
  • To distract an opponent and cause mental lapses.
  • When you experience pressure before a match. You may feel anxious and nervous, which can lead to negative consequences. 
  • To manage your thoughts after a game.
  • To reflect and review your performance in training or after a game
  • During penalty kicks to stay calm, collected and composed
  • Use football sports psychology when you are in a position of pressure or difficulty. You can also use it when you are in a position of excessive success.

Football Psychology Tips and Techniques

Football Sports Psychology: Become An Elite Learner

In sports, the ability to learn fast is often what separates the repeat champions from those who have loads of talent but never quite make it.

People you’re competing with are developing week by week. So, how do you ensure you are developing faster and better, in order to provide a competitive advantage? It starts with your mindset towards learning… below we dive into it.

Football Sports Psychology: The mindset behind learning

Fixed Football Mindset

There are two different mindsets that are involved when it comes to learning something new. The first is the fixed mindset which believes that intelligence is always inherited, not developed.

This mindset believes that there are certain people who are “smart” and others who are not.

They do not believe learning is possible for them which leads to people stopping trying because they don’t think it will make a difference. 

Growth Football Mindset

On the other hand, the growth mindset believes that intelligence is developed over time through hard work and effort.

This mentality believes that there is always room for improvement and does not give up easily because they know that they can always do better.

So if you have a growth mindset, you are motivated to continue learning to improve yourself.

Growth mindset: Football sports psychology

Try as much as possible to adopt a growth (sponge-like) mindset. Try new things and listen to the feedback and don’t view yourself as fixed (rock mindset).

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Football Sports Psychology: 3 Ways to become an elite learner

1. Egoless Learning

A rock-minded person only focuses on what they’re good at and shies away from doing what will make them look bad.

Egoless learning is trying to focus and improve on the things that you are not good at and recognizing that it may not feel comfortable but the benefits are far much better than focussing on what you’re already good at.

A good example is trying to pass and play with your non-dominant foot. 

Stretch yourself to go out of your comfort zone – you will reap the rewards of new skills whilst others develop slow, you rapidly increase your skills and stretch yourself.

2. Making the right connections between performance and outcome

Your brain is constantly making connections between things. What you want to do is make the right connections.

Identify things that will help you perform at your best and strengthen those connections because they are the habits that you form.

Be clear upfront on what you are setting out to achieve and also the outcome. It gives you direction and laser focus, enabling you to learn faster than the rest because everything you do becomes purposeful.

3. Meaningful learning

The more you enjoy something, the more it’s important to you, and the more likely you are to learn.

Make thoughts about what you are learning and its importance of it in the future.

Goal setting and having a clear outcome objective are key to having meaningful learning. If you want to learn how to become a master at goal setting for football, check out our FREE Goal setting masterclass here.

It is a 10-minute video guiding you through producing world-class goals to help you become laser-focused and accelerate your development faster than any of your peers.

Football sports psychology: Becoming an Elite learner Action Points

  • Identify what you are looking to get from a training session
  • Take accountability for your individual learning and training.
  • Make connections between what you’re set to do and what actually happens.

Seeing the Positives & Building Confidence

  • After each football training session, force yourself to see through things you did brilliantly. The process of thinking about them will encourage your brain to start identifying the things you’re doing well as opposed to the one thing you did not do as you would like.
  • At the end of the training week, reflect on your positives.
  • Write down three positive things after each match.
  • Talk to teammates and your coach about what they felt you did positively in the training sessions or a match.
  • All these points will help you focus on your positive football mindset as opposed to dwelling on the negatives.

Conclusion on Football Sports Psychology 

We hope you have enjoyed this article. Football sports psychology entails the mental approach of the game. In summary:

  • Football Sports Psychology is the use of strategies, techniques, and methodologies to make oneself perform better in many areas of the game
  • Staying under control, dealing with pressure, maintaining high levels of self-belief, goal setting and reflective practice are all areas of football sports psychology
  • The collective mental state of the team can determine whether they will succeed or fail
  • 80% of athletes feel that using sports psychology helps them perform better at their sport
  • The most important thing to remember is that your mindset is trainable. 
  • Football sports psychology can give you an advantage and better performance in some of the areas below
  • Remaining calm and confident.
  • When the referee has made a poor decision – stay level-headed calm & collected and focus on the next job. 
  • To distract an opponent
  • To manage and focus your thoughts before and after a game
  • Football mindset improves & develops as you focus on it, exactly the same as any muscle in your body. It is changeable & adaptable
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If you are interested in taking your game to the next level check out the E-Perform psychology and mindset masterclass with Adam Streeter.

Adam has worked with some of the biggest names in football and within our video masterclass, he goes through the techniques contained in this article in even more detail and gives you exercises to start including in your practice.

Psychology is such an underused component of the game, even at the highest level. We cannot advocate enough to start focusing on it. 

If you found this article useful please share it with your teammates and please comment below with any questions or comments you may have.

Check out the Leave no doubt podcast for more content like this on the show.

Remember to Improve every day – Leave no doubt in your game & unlock your potential


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