Sports Psychology Football – Goals to Grow Confidence and Mental Strength
The psychology of fanatic football fans
There’s a very famous psychology experiment that was done in the 70s that was called the Minimal Group Paradigm and they were trying to figure out what were the minimal conditions for establishing group membership. The found that using the most arbitrary criteria you can create categories of groups and people will slowly start identifying with those groups no matter how arbitrary they are. If I give half the room a red t-shirt and half the room a yellow t-shirt, people who have the yellow t-shirt will start identifying with other people who are wearing yellow t-shirts even though they have nothing in common with those individuals, and slowly start disliking the group with the red t-shirts, and this is how intergroup conflict gets started. People evolved living in groups and it’s very normal and these processes of characterisation, identification, and comparison are quite normal. We sort ourselves into groups, we identify with those groups, and then we start comparing ourselves with other groups.
Katie – I mean this can be so much fun, but sometimes you can get football hooliganism, football related violence. Sander – I think football as a sport really enhances this idea of group identification, so we belong to all sorts of different groups, right. When you so strongly identify with a group in the moment, when somebody insults your group it’s almost like they’re insulting you personally. That’s how strongly you’ve identified with the group and so, when somebody says something bad, that’s how fights get started and everyone sort of thinks as one unit and it becomes easy to start a conflict. People, if you look throughout human history, people really enjoy group activities and it enhances our self esteem and our wellbeing when it doesn’t get aggressive and violent.
The amount of interest expressed in football currently is higher among men, even though there’s a very substantial proportion of interest among females, but I don’t think that’s the case because of any biological reason. I think there’s just structural barriers that include societal stereotypes that people have about football being a sort of manly sport.
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On 27 April 2014 Liverpool lost at home to Chelsea and Manchester City won at Crystal Palace on a day which turned the Premier League title race in dramatic fashion. Liverpool, with Steven Gerrard’s slip proving so crucial, were beaten 2-0 at Anfield, while City came out on top at Selhurst Park by the same scoreline before going on to win the league and deny the Reds a first title since 1990. Had Liverpool won and City lost that day, the Reds would have been nine points clear of their rivals, who had only three games to play. Five years on, the same two protagonists are again challenging to become champions and face the same opponents at the same venues this Sunday – only with quadruple-chasing City playing first this time around – on what could be another title-defining day. In 2014, Liverpool’s set-up included renowned sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, who would go to the club once a week and attend home games to help the players deal with the pressures of their title challenge.
Liverpool held a seven-point lead over City when the two sides met in January, only to see that reduced to four with a 2-1 defeat by their rivals. City suffered a surprise loss to Newcastle only for Liverpool to then go on a run of four draws in six games. In terms of coping with the pressure, Peters said there is no one-fits-all answer for players, but that, just like they would with the physical and tactical sides of the game, there should be a mental preparation. The lead at the top of the Premier League between Liverpool and City has changed hands 19 times this season, with the Reds having been on top for 129 days and City 109. The teams do not play at the same time again this season until the final day on 12 May, meaning one or the other will always have a chance of seizing a temporary initiative.
Manchester City are three games into an April in which they play eight matches as they challenge for an unprecedented quadruple by adding the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup to the League Cup they have already won. Liverpool have scored 15 goals in the final 10 minutes of league matches this season.