The taboo toward psychology still exists in soccer

About the crisis of their best player, the team’s coach said that “we are working together with the player and the team’s psychological staff to solve the problem as soon as possible and to see him finally play on the field as he knows how.

I think we will never hear such statements in soccer. This is because the real taboo that resists in relation to evaluating the psychological aspects of any player is to consider them according to a positive/negative logic. Either things are good or there are problems. The very word “problem” associated with another “psychological” immediately reminds one of something that must be hidden, a fault to be ashamed of and which then publicly must be called something else so as not to stigmatize the young person as one who has a “psychological problem.”

That is why then the “problems” shown on the field by Vlahovic, Leao, Donnarumma, and so many others who are not mentioned in the media because they are not famous are explained in terms of playing problems, the desire to overdo it, contract-related problems, difficulties in recovering after an injury or finding the match rhythm again. What is not said is that these situations just listed are the footballer’s way of showing his current psychological limitations. If one replaces the word “problem” with “current limit” it becomes more obvious that talking about psychological limits is analogous to talking about physical or technical-tactical limits and that through training it will be possible to reduce these limits.

Thus, by bringing the issue back to typical difficulties of those who do a job, that of a footballer, in which one should always be ready, knowing of course that this is not possible, it becomes easier to accept that psychological limitations demonstrated at certain times during the sporting season are part of a footballer’s life, they should therefore not be hidden, they are like a muscle contracture or a wrong pass. When they occur, the club must be equipped as with any other eventuality to treat the player, through experts in sports psychology, with the aim of reducing or eliminating this difficulty.

Instead, we are still stuck thinking that the support of teammates and fans and chats with the coach are enough. Certainly they are important, but no one would think of solving an injury with a pat on the back.

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