Dr Matt Pain, The FA’s Research Manager for Psychology, smiles and admits there are very few players who possess all five.
Pain is outlining the ideal psychological skills of the very best football players. He describes them as the 5 C’s.
“We are looking for commitment, communication, concentration, confidence and emotional control. There are probably not that many who have all five, but you won’t get away with being in the pro-game with missing too many of those.”
If these skills were common amongst all players, the role of the coach would be to solely focus on football issues. But of course, they’re not.
Pain stresses that improving the psychological skills of young players shouldn’t be left to chance.
In the same way that a young player can practise their passing, first-touch or shooting skills, they too can develop the coping strategies that will help them perform more effectively on the field of play.
Pain added: “We are trying to help coaches work towards developing those skills in young players intentionally and systematically. If we can give more coping skills to the coaches so they can understand how to transfer those to the players, young players will hopefully develop these qualities as they go through their career.”
The FA’s new Advanced Youth Award provides a dedicated focus to developing psychological skills. Pain, who is the lead tutor for the psychological corner, explains that through a mixture of theory and practical work coaches can become skilled in adding a psychological element to their coaching practices.
“We give coaches an awareness of firstly what the qualities are of an elite player mentally, and then drip in some ideas of how they can help their younger players work towards developing those qualities in practices.
“Our ideal model of a day is [firstly] inside discussing and working on an aspect like communication, showing practices, talking to coaches and showing them how they can intentionally work on that area of psychology.
“We then take that out onto the pitch in the afternoon so they can get that hands on experience of working that area of communication into their practices and then feeding back to them and helping them get better” added Pain.
The psychological corner is part of The FA’s four corner model for player development. To listen to FA tutor and consultant Merfyn Roberts discuss the social corner, click here.
Also, listen to FA Advanced Youth Award course director, Steve Rutter, summarise the course content here.