Richard Dobson’s voice quivers with emotion. The Wycombe Wanderers assistant manager is recounting a conversation with two female supporters, which left an indelible mark on the 45-year-old. “One of them said to me, ‘I’ve fallen in love with this club’”, he recalls. “She said she was in a difficult relationship at the time and was … Continue reading Exclusive interview: Gareth Ainsworth and Richard Dobson on Wycombe’s ‘cultural architects’, psychology and bringing the Haka to Adams Park
“I think the future of football lies in mental health and wellbeing”. You’d be forgiven for thinking the statement came straight from a Jurgen Klopp or Thomas Tuchel press conference. Forward-thinking is not the preserve of the Premier League’s more celebrated managers, though. The quote is taken from an interview with Sean Dyche, whose thoughts … Continue reading Premier League psychology guide: how are England’s top flight clubs supporting players’ performance and mental health?
As Bukayo Saka stepped up to the spot, Jordon Ibe might have been forgiven a wistful glance towards the TV. Five years ago, Ibe was the tricky winger who seemed set to make his mark with England. It could have been him staring at Gianluigi Donnarumma, a nation's hopes resting on his shoulders. Unfortunately, the … Continue reading ‘We’re waiting until people have fallen off the edge of the cliff’: is football failing to psychologically support players?
Anthony Stewart’s header hits the back of the net. He peels away to celebrate, his teammates in close attendance. They all know the importance of the goal, which will set the club on course for promotion to the Championship. For the first time in its 133-year history, Wycombe will be playing in the second tier … Continue reading How the ‘biggest psychology programme in Europe’ helped Wycombe make history
‘They’re passing the ball with real confidence: you can just see how focused they are today’. It’s a line that could be taken from almost any commentator or pundit. It’s also a statement which fans across the world would recognise. We know when our team’s players are motivated. Or do we? It’s a question that … Continue reading “Hazard broke the charts”: inside Chelsea’s ‘psychological coding’ project
Pele. Maradona. Ronaldo. Messi. It’s rare to go a day on social media without a debate about the greatest player of all time. The arguments are well-known: Ronaldo’s aerial ability vs Messi’s dribbling skills. Pele and Maradona’s major tournament record set against that of their modern-day counterparts. But what about the psychological characteristics of the … Continue reading What are the psychological characteristics of the ‘perfect footballer’?
For any Dinamo Zagreb defenders watching Tottenham’s 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday evening, the prospect of facing Gareth Bale and Harry Kane in tonight’s Europa League round of 16 first leg might not have seemed particularly appealing. Despite Dinamo’s excellent run in this season’s competition – the Croatian side have yet to taste … Continue reading Meet the psychologist preparing Dinamo Zagreb to face Bale and Kane
Method in Mourinho’s madness? During a recent interview with Dinamo Zagreb’s performance psychologist, Boris Balent, the conversation turned to Jose Mourinho. Balent, who has worked at the top of the European game for over a decade, effusively recalled comments the current Spurs manager gave about the balance between players’ confidence and focus. The essence of … Continue reading Hope for Mourinho and Hasenhuttl’s video nasty
“Over the last few months, players are just walking from one game to another, without stopping. There’s no respite from it…it puts a hell of a lot of pressure on them.” It’s a stark warning from a man who knows more than most about the fatigue felt by footballers. Nick Littlehales, better known as the … Continue reading 4am journeys from the training ground, games every two days and players ‘close to the edge’: football’s fatigue problem
It’s becoming something of a cliche to say that we’re living in ‘unprecedented times’. However, English football is arguably facing its biggest crisis in a generation. The stark reality of financial pressure and the continued absence of fans is biting hard. Fortunately, Lisa Fallon is well-versed in dealing with challenging situations. The London City Lionesses … Continue reading Lisa Fallon: ‘We have the opportunity to influence change’
There’s an episode in the second series of Sunderland ‘Til I Die, the Netflix documentary which follows the Black Cats’ fortunes during the 17/18 and 18/19 seasons, that shows the club’s transfer deadline day pursuit of striker Will Grigg. If you managed to negotiate lockdown without watching the series, you’ll have missed the 60 minutes … Continue reading A game under strain: the power of pressure in football
In this episode of the Beat The Press podcast, we speak to Dr Misia Gervis, leading sports psychologist and academic. Join us for a fascinating discussion about her time working for the England women's team and the role she has played in supporting academies at Wycombe Wanderers and QPR. We look at how clubs are … Continue reading Interview: Dr Misia Gervis