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Psychology has become an integral part of sport in the last decade and recently, psychologists have been making inroads into football.

Nowadays, many football clubs and international sides have a registered psychologist working with their players. Liverpool have employed Steve Peters, a chartered psychologist and University lecturer. Peters works with elite sports teams and senior management for corporate organisations. Peters has now been recruited by England boss Roy Hodgson to work with his squad in preparation for the World cup this summer.

“He has got a fantastic record,” said Hodgson. “We are happy we have got the man we wanted”. Steven Gerrard was also full of praise for Peters with whom he has worked with regularly since 2010: “I saw him in a one-on-one situation and I liked his work and continued to see him. I feel he can help the players if the players buy into what he is trying to do,” said the England and Liverpool skipper. “He can’t help you do a Cruyff turn or a 40-yard pass better, but he can help you learn what goes off inside your head,” he added.

Many teams and establishments are buying into the mental side of their professions. The Great Britain cycling team themselves employed Peters, as did five time snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan and England rugby international Dylan Hartley. Positive psychology seems to be getting bigger in many sports, including football. Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has recently been praised as one of the top managers in the country simply because he recognised the need for positivity on and off the pitch. Raheem Sterling put it best when he said: “I’d say he has got me settled off the pitch and he’s made me realise that I’m here on merit because of what I’ve done in the youth team.

“He’s told me to do what I’ve been doing in the youth team and just be confident and get on the ball,” said the Liverpool youngster.

Rodgers has used Liverpool’s confidence to galvanise his side’s belief and mental toughness. Last year, Liverpool were languishing in 6th and looked dead in the water. This season, things have changed. There is a positive buzz around Anfield and Liverpool are currently top of the table, challenging for the league title. One must consider how this transformation came about. Sure, Liverpool signed some good, solid players but how does that account for the sheer confidence and contentment of the Liverpool players when they are on the ball. Rodgers has seized on the idea of positivity and creativity. He has transformed Liverpool from tentative, worried players into fearless, creative talents and his philosophy has caused Liverpool to run riot.

Some people may say that psychology in sport is a load of old phooey but there is evidence out there to suggest the exact opposite. The game is changing every day. After witnessing Liverpool’s success one would be very surprised if other clubs did not follow in their stead and hire a psychologist. Many psychologists believe that the difference between winning and losing is mental strength. Believe me, if Liverpool do pull of a near miracle and win the title this year, expect every manager in the world to be begging psychologists to motivate their players.

Darragh Bermingham, Pundit Arena.

Featured Image By Kev Ruscoe from Sandbach, UK (2013-08-05 11-35-15).


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