Sport Psychology for Soccer

Sport Psychology for Soccer (Association Football) is an insightful blog post by sport psychologist Gareth J. Mole from Condor Performance

Sport Psychology for Soccer
Sport Psychology for Soccer

Before jumping head first into some of the many aspects that could come under the banner ‘Sport Psychology for Soccer‘ let’s first establish some facts. First of all soccer is also known as football, the preferred term outside of the USA. This paragraph from Quora explains it best:

The correct full name of the sport still is Association FootballSoccer is a nickname and is seldom used outside of the US. Neither is wrong, but Football (or Fútbol, or Futebol, or all the other forms of the word) is the world-wide popular name of the sport.

Actually, as a former goalkeeper, I prefer the term Soccer. In my playing days, the “ball” rarely came into contact with my “foot”. To pass the ball to my teammates I would almost always throw the ball out.

The term soccer, therefore, doesn’t discriminate against goalies in the same way that the name football does. It also makes a lot of sense to have a label that can’t be confused with other sports. Here in Australia, for example, the term football can refer to one of four totally different team sports. But if you tell someone you’re a, say, soccer referee, there is no chance they’ll think you officiate rugby league games.

The second fact is how dominate soccer is as the world’s most popular sport. At last count, there were 265 million registered players worldwide. No other sport comes close to this, see PDF below by Fifa.

Sport Psychology is Not Mental Health For Sport

As current and past clients of ours will know when we use the term sport psychology we really mean it. By this I mean we are referring to the psychology of sports. The mental aspects involved in both training for that sport and competing as well. So in simple terms sport psychology for soccer (or soccer psychology) is mainly about the psychological aspects of training for and the competing in competitive soccer matches.

This is not to imply that mental health is not linked with optimal performance in soccer or any other sport for that matter. Quite the opposite in fact. As sport psychologists and performance psychologists we do a lot of work assisting our sporting clients with their mental health. We do this because a) we can as registered psychologists and b) we know that it assists with both off-field and field areas. But when we’re assisting a soccer player with clinical depression (for example) this is more counseling that pure sport psychology.

Sport Psychology for Soccer – Training

As is very clearly explained in our online, self guided Mental Toughness Training course (Metuf) we want to have contrasting mindset for soccer practice versus actual matches. For training, we want our minds to be on the concept of constant improvement through high-quality effort. Actually, through the right amount of high-quality effort to be more precise. Furthermore, we want our training to be spread across four different areas – two below the neck and two above the neck.

Sport Psychology for Soccer – Match Day

Unlike in training when it’s normal to be trying our hardest, for matches we are better off just being as relaxed as possible. Having a Relaxed Competition Mindset is one of the key aspects of match day mental toughness. One of the best ways to actually develop a Relaxed Competition Mindset is by targeting the hour or three before you start the whistle. This blog post from 2019 goes into a lot more detail about how you can develop a Pre Game Routine.


If you’d like our help with any mental aspects of what you do then below are few ways to contact us:


Author: Gareth J. Mole

Gareth J. Mole is an endorsed Sport and Exercise Psychologist. He is the founder of Condor Performance and co-creator of Metuf™. He lives between Canberra and Sydney (Australia) with his wife, their two children and their fourteen chickens.

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