Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Role of Psychological Factors on the Performance of Elite Soccer Players

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Role of Psychological Factors on the Performance of Elite Soccer Players

Article excerpt

Introduction

Throughout the most recent couple of years, psychology in professional soccer has risen in values. Nowadays, many professional soccer clubs have realized the importance of psychology in the game of soccer to improve performance (Raglin 2001). Mustafa and David (2014) reported that psychological factors such motivation, confidence, anxiety control, mental preparation, team emphasis, concentration, and cognition play a significant role in the improvement of performance of soccer players. Bull and Sham (1996) defined motivation as the external stimulus and internal mechanisms that arouse and direct behavior. The two types of motivation that can affect performance in soccer are extrinsic which comes as a result of rewards such as money, trophies or praise and intrinsic motivation which comes from within a player (Seipp 1991). Among an essential element of a psychological factor that determines performance is confidence. Morris (2010) pointed out that confidence is the trust or level of certainty a player possess the ability to perform well during competition. However, Patrick (2014) describes two types of confidence in soccer players. A reactive confidence player who lacks confidence after a poor performance is affected by a poor warm up, his first few plays dictate his confidence, is affected by a negative feedback, loses confidence rapidly after mistakes, always leaves confidence to chance. A proactive confidence player in the other hand is a player who feels confident going into the game, a relatively consistent performer, maintains stable confidence during the game, focuses on strengths prior to the game, visualizes success, feels confidence despite poor warm up and he is a player who is not intimidated by competitions. Macleod (1990) describes anxiety in soccer as the increased state of readiness of a player in the process of performance. He pointed out that, for a soccer player to perform well, it is important that arousal is maintained at a balanced level. Anxiety is classified as somatic which is seen as how the body responds to sports situation that has some symptoms like increased heart rate, increased breathing rate and feeling sick. Cognitive anxiety is the player's general nervousness that resulted in the reduction of concentration. State anxiety occurs when a player is consistently placed in a changing environment while trait anxiety is the characteristics that players have which make them react to the situation in a specific way. Taylor (1996) describes mental preparation as the readiness or the ability for a player to strive in a big game, stay focus, and take control of the ball as well as performing the higher range of player's talent and skill in respective of competitive circumstances. Team emphasis; soccer is both an individual and team sport, therefore, it is important for a player to realize that just as he has an impact on the team, the team also has an impact on him. The team as a group impacts on performance both in obvious and subtle ways (Unnithan, White, Georgiou, Iga, & Drust 2012). Concentration according to Ptacek, (1995) is the ability of a player to ignore external factors that would otherwise distract him from performing at his best. Nideffer and Sagal (1993) describes cognition as the relationship between the thoughts of a player and his performance. They stated further that, the way the player thinks directly affects his behavior and performance. Developing positive cognitive strategies can help limit distraction and boost the performance of a player.

Elite professional soccer is a complex sport and performance depends on a number of factors such as physical, physiological and psychological. Throughout the most recent couple of years, the part of psychology in professional soccer clubs has been fully recognized. Professional soccer clubs such as Derby County in English premier league and Ajax football club in Holland have not only opened doors for psychological assessment in their team but have shown how it can help improve player performance (Vestberg, Gustafson, Maurex, Ingvar & Petrovic 2012). …

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