AFC Bournemouth sports psychologist Dan Abrahams has opened up on some of the methods he uses to help players with their confidence.
Interview provided by Iain Fenton, a sports journalist in esports news and betting for EsportsOnly
A sports psychologist for over 10 years, Abrahams has previously worked for Queens Park Rangers and Derby County. He is also currently employed by the England national rugby union team.
Dan’s role is to make sure the footballers he is working with are mentally prepared to walk out in front of thousands of people and play football to the best of their ability. Even when they’re not feeling confident.
“There are always going to be times where players lose confidence, whether that’s going on a mini slump of form or a longer period of not playing so good,” he says, as part of a longer interview on Planet Football.
“I can help players play with confidence, and I can also help players compete at the best of their ability when they’re not confident.
“Realistically when you’re playing 38 games in a season, there are going to be times when you lose that bit of confidence, so my psychological toolbox is designed to increase a player’s confidence but also help them manage themselves when they’re running out onto the pitch when they’re not feeling at 100%.
“Just as they need to be able to compete when they’re 60-80% fit, it is possible to compete effectively and with impact even when you’re not confident.”
There are various techniques that Abrahams uses in order to bring out the best in players.
“I like to do things in a really fun and simple way,” he says.
“All footballers love to play FIFA or Call of Duty on Xboxes or PS4s – they tend to spend all afternoon playing these games.
“So, I say if you’re playing me at FIFA, you’ve got a controller, I’ve got a controller. As a human being you have two controllers – two things that help you manage yourself in the moment when under pressure.
“Controller number one is your self-talk – talking to yourself – and controller number two is your body language – how you hold yourself. So I talk to players about using their controllers as they compete on the pitch to help them manage themselves.
“If a striker has just missed a couple of golden opportunities to score he might start to have some negative thoughts about his game.
“He’s got to use controller number one to keep talking to himself, keep himself positive, energised and upbeat, and he’s got to use his second controller, his body language, to reinforce that positive upbeat energetic persona.
“So if he can use those two controllers throughout the game he can manage himself.”