The football league is drawing to its conclusion and there are teams fighting for relegation and promotion.  This is why love football but this time of the season is fascinating from a mental perspective.  Inevitably teams will miss out on the prize of staying up and be relegated or promotion to the league above.  These teams need to play the game and not the occasion (A colleague of mine used this during a conversion and I think it’s brilliant) and they need to play to win as opposed playing not to lose.

Playing the game and not the occasion is a great quote and really ties up several issues from a sport psychology perspective in football.  There will be lots of pressure and incentives to the winning clubs, both from a football point of view and a financial one. This pressure can have a debilitating effect on the players. To overcome this teams must just play the game. Play football like they were children again in the park using jumpers for goal posts.   The idea for this blog came to me as I walked past my picture on my hallway (It’s called Jumpers for Goal Posts  by Bob Barker and it was a Christmas present off the wife) and wanted to reword some previous blogs on the subject of pressure in football.

Teams must play without thinking and let the hours of training they have given to their craft take over.  They must play like they did in the park where there was no pressure and you had the environment where you could just play if they do this the result should take care of itself. When you were in the park the players were able to control everything that was in their control (apart from going home for their tea!) and influence those things they could only influence (playing well until mum called!) everything else they ignored.  The players in the teams fighting for promotion and relegation in the football must do this.  They must control the controllables. Focus on the things that are in their direct control and disregard everything else. The occasion, the opponent, the fans have no bearing on the player’s performance. They should concentrate on their build up and preparation, their tactics and their technical ability.  The teams that can best control the controllabes will be the winners come the end of the season.