Give us a call on +44 (0)20 3326 6289
Home Blog Building resilience Come on England! Can Sports Psychology help us to World Cup Glory?

Come on England! Can Sports Psychology help us to World Cup Glory?


Will England build their resilience

As a keen football supporter and season ticket holder at Ipswich Town FC – although some may say the two don't necessarily go hand in hand - I was interested to learn last week that England manager, Roy Hodgson, has confirmed he will use a leading sports psychologist in the lead-up to the World Cup - naming Dr Steve Peters as the man who will help prepare his players for the challenges in Brazil.

Not being a top flight (or even bottom flight) sportswoman, it intrigues me that sports men and women at the top of their game, such as our fantastic Olympians and Paralympians and national teams, should be anything other than super confident about their performances. So why should they need a psychologist to help? It seems the increased stress of competitions can cause athletes to react in physical and mental ways that can negatively affect their ability to performance. They become tense, their heart rates race, they break into a cold sweat, they worry about the outcome of the competition, they find it hard to concentrate on the task in hand – but that's all pretty normal stuff I'd say, surely?

Psychological Resilience

Normal or not, this has led to sports coaches taking an increasing interest in the field of sport psychology and, in particular, in the area of competitive anxiety. That interest has focused on techniques that athletes can use in competitive situations to maintain control and optimise their performance. These techniques allow the athlete to relax and to focus their attention in a positive way on the task of preparing for and participating in competitions. Psychology has become another weapon in the athlete's armoury in getting the winning edge.

Dr Steve Peters is the man behind Team GB's extraordinary success in cycling at the London 2012 Olympics, gaining accolades such as "Steve Peters is the most important person in my career." from Victoria Pendleton, World and Olympic Cycling Champion and "His mind programme helped me win my Olympic Golds." from Sir Chris Hoy. A consultant psychiatrist and University Senior Clinical Lecturer, Peters has been an integral part of Great Britain Cycling Team's accomplishments since his initial work with the team in 2001, He uses mental techniques to increase resilience and performance. It's a technique all of us can benefit from - listening to our inner voice, or chimp as he calls it. His psychological techniques such as 'chimp' and 'gremlin' control are now part and parcel of every rider's psyche.

"Both of those approaches involve the riders understanding how their minds work and then learning how to control their emotions." Peters explains. "There are two aspects of your brain that work independently of each other. One is quite emotional and irrational; the other is logical, capable of making good judgments. I call the emotional part 'the chimp'. I teach the riders techniques to manage or pre-empt what the chimp is going to do so you can stop the strike. You can read more about the chimp here and in Peter's book The Chimp Paradox.

He has also worked closely with Liverpool Football Club and has a long-standing relationship with England captain Steven Gerrard. Gerrard gave a resounding endorsement for Peters accompanying the England squad to Brazil and has revealed he has been seeing him for three years now. Gerrard said 'First, in 2010 I saw him in a one-on-one situation and liked the work he did. I continued to see him and I've seen more of him since he's been connected with Liverpool. I didn't know what was going on in my head before I worked with him. It works. He's helped me with mental prep before games. I feel I've found my most consistent form since I've been seeing SP. I'm delighted the manager's got him on board.'

Despite being a fan of football, England's lacklustre performances in recent years had left me a little indifferent to paying much attention to Brazil 2014, but Steve Peters' appointment has piqued my interest. If Stevie Gerrard is a convert and convinced his form has improved since working with Peters, I'm keeping my fingers crossed it will work for the rest of the squad and we might just get further than the semi-finals in this World Cup. I think I might even watch a game or two after all.

Building resilience


5 Ways you can Achieve Flow 18 April 2018, 00.00 Sharon
5 Ways you can Achieve Flow
Often described as a state of mind in which you can experience total immersion and involvement in what you’re doing, where things happen effortlessly and time disappears, flow is what athletes often call “being in the



Protect. Enable. Strengthen. Flourish. Your business is in their heads.