BBC Radio York interview sport psychology expert Dan Abrahams on the subject of Sport Psychology and the recent form of York City Football Club. Below the audio player is the written transcript for those that wish to read rather than listen.
BBC Radio York – We’re hearing far too much of this sort of thing recently.
“It’s a Fascinating situation for manager Nigel Worthington. Somehow he’s gotta dig York out of this hole. It’s a real struggle at the moment. York City 0 Port Vale 2 and now they really are in the thick of things near the bottom.”
York city haven’t won a game since New Year’s Day and there now in the league two relegation zone. This means after last season’s triumphant promotion the club are in serious danger of going straight back into non-league football. So, we have decided to give them a bit of on air therapy this morning, seeing how we can boost the player’s confidence and help keep the Minster Men in the football league. With me now is Dan Abrahams who’s a sports psychologist, who works with football players in the premier league. Dan good morning.
Dan Abrahams – Good morning.
BBC Radio York – I’m well thank you. So if you’re sitting in front of York City’s players right now a football squad that hasn’t won a game in almost three months. What will you be saying to them?
Dan Abrahams – There’s a whole raft of things you can say to them but… Look this is pressure football when you’re in the danger zone and this is about helping them play on the front foot rather than the back foot. It’s about helping them play to win not to lose. It’s about helping them play with freedom and not fear. So it’s exploring ways to help them. I think freedom is such a great word in this situation. Players compound errors by worrying about mistakes. It’s giving that freedom to play football that’s gonna be important for the management team.
BBC Radio York – But how do you do that Dan? How do you get a group of players to say look regardless of the situation you find yourself in, forget that. Go out on the field and just play football with a sense of freedom?
Dan Abrahams – Well this is what I love about the psychology of sport, it’s a fascinating situation. The management team the coaching staff really have to take them in one of two directions and actually they are polar opposite directions, and they have to decide which one based on the culture there club the team players they’ve got in front of them.
One is to embrace the challenge. It’s the “we do tough, we’re gonna fight here, we are gonna play with intensity”. The other one is “relax, we’re gonna ignore this situation, we’re gonna do what we do every single week”.
The advantage with the fight, the intensity one is that we can we are all in this together, we are an island, and in that respect you can get players to focus. The disadvantage there is there might be too much tension. The advantage behind the relaxed you know we are gonna do what we do every single week, don’t worry about it guys, we’re just gonna do the same thing is you help them to relax, you can help them play with that freedom. It really depends.
This is where good football management leader ship comes in. It’s knowing your players, knowing your culture, from there you can make a decision in which direction you take them in.
BBC Radio York – You mention though what you love about sport psychology is that any sport you play no matter what it is, it’s all played in your head before you actually go out there on the field to do it. What sort of impact will the change of manager of had as well? Because everything was going so well last year, they won the FA trophy, they won promotion back into the football league. It was a cracking time for York City. In the space of about eight or nine months its all gone slightly pear shaped. What impact will a change of manager had?
Dan Abrahams – When you change a manager at a football club there’s two things, dynamics that go on. One, impression, players feel they have to impress upon the manager what they can do. So usually hard work, focus goes up during the training days. That can actually dissipate over time. You know the players get use to the management processes and then you go back to normal. So you know whether you go about changing the manager again at this late stage, well that’s for the board to decide.
BBC Radio York – Okay Dan good to talk to you this morning, thanks very much. Dan Abrahams sport psychologist who works with football players in the premier league.