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The Football Psychology Of Coronavirus

Footballers are now being called upon to be self-motivated and conscientious, but it’s not easy when you’re used to having somebody in your ear the whole time…

Read: Chiefs’ Nurkovic Aims At Musona, Won’t Catch Collins

Around the globe, footballers in almost every league are being told to following programmes given to them for training at home alone, creating a different dynamic to the usual sessions that are overseen by a number of coaches.

Now, more than ever before, players are having to be their own bosses in terms of making sure their fitness levels are where they need to be, with the likes of Willard Katsande, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Daniel Cardoso and other Absa Premiership players showing their current setups on social media in the past few weeks.

The Coronavirus outbreak that has brought South African – and global – football to a standstill has no signs of letting up just yet, and leading sports psychologist, Daniel Abrahams, has given some insight into how coaching cultures can aid in making sure players survive this period.

Speaking to the Siya crew from the United Kingdom, “If you have a club that has a culture of being autonomy supported, which is players taking ownership themselves, then those players might be better equipped to deal with this, because they’re used to being self-driven.

“Whereas the classical culture in football is that players are told what to do, they turn up, and they do it. The idea of ‘You tell me what to do and I’ll do it’ is a very big problem in a scenario like this – because they don’t have that voice there, those coaches around them to tell them what to do.

“This is a time where they can practice being self-motivated, but that will require a lot of conscientiousness – one of the big five personality dimensions – which is being achievement-striving, self-disciplined, and orderly. It’s these things that high-achievement people tend to do.”

Regarding the current sporting period in general, Abrahams went on to add, “I think it’s a really interesting landscape, and I think it is complex, because if we go down to the individual level, everybody is going to perceive this a little bit different from each other. There will be clusters of opinions and narratives, but everyone will see things slightly differently – that perception, that narrative, the meaning they put behind the break, will influence things.

“First things first, it’s a stressful time on so many levels for people, but in the sporting world because of the question of ‘when are we next going to be playing?’. That is a very stressful situation.

“For some players and some leagues, there’s a question of ‘am I going to come back?’ given the contract situations and those kinds of things.”

Read: Middendorp’s Impressive Amakhosi Turnaround…

Abrahams has worked with the likes of Steve McLaren, Yannick Bolasie, Eddie Howe and many others over the course of his career.

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