Sport Psychology & Mental Skills Training:
Motivation & Performance

ISSPF Article

Motivation is the foundation of all athletic effort and accomplishment…

Ronald Koeman said he wished Lionel Messi the best through a social media posting…

“Still hard to understand that you will not play for FC Barcelona anymore. Thanks for everything you have done for our club Leo. I really enjoyed the full season we worked together. I am impressed with your work ethic and desire to win. It makes you the best player in the world.” 

After all the individual & collective accolades the ‘little genius’ has won over his illustrious career, and to continue to apply a high work ethic & desire, the term ‘motivation to be the best’ is very apparent.

Soccer player diet

To become the best athlete, football player or coach you can be, you must be motivated to do what it takes to maximize your ability and achieve your goals day in & day out. Motivation, simply defined, is the ability to initiate and persist at a task. From a coaching perspective – how do you maximise your players, athletes or staff’s motivation levels? What makes them tick? What is their main motivation to perform and how can you as a leader draw that out of them! Understanding what gets your players prepared to perform is key as a coach, manager or leader of a department and ISSPF have the experts ready to deliver some key interventions and modules to help you progress within team sport environments.

Goal setting has received a lot of research based attention and its use has been supported by elite level practitioners, players and coaches as a way of focussing motivational traits. ISSPF faculty member Sarah Murray in the ISSPF Soccer Psychology & Mental Skills Training Course covers this key topic and highlights how goal setting affects performance by directing individuals focus & attention, increasing persistence, and motivational strategy.

According to one report, goal setting & focussing on achievable targets are like magnets that attract soccer players & athletes to achieve more over time. Bueno, Weinberg, Fernandez-Castro, and Capdevila (2008) suggested that both motivational and emotional mechanisms were important mediators in improving the efficacy & efficiency of goal setting in endurance related sports. whereas researchers (Burton & Raedeke, 2008; Vealey, 2007) found that there is a close relationship between goal setting and imagery during practice and competition — notably 2 key focus areas within the mental skills training aspect of the ISSPF Soccer Psychology & Mental Skills Training online coaching course!

Interestingly, most individuals are involved within sport for a variety of reasons. Soccer players, staff members, coaches or head coach/manager’s participation in sport across all levels of ability and age groups generally fall into line with two major motivational categories: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic Motivation
Individuals who are generally intrinsically motivated particularly perform and sustain high levels of motivation through enjoyment and gaining satisfaction, with a large focus and concentration on skill improvement and growth.

Intrinsic Motivation Behaviours

  • Better task-relevant focus
  • Fewer changes (ups and downs in personality) in motivation
  • Less distractions
  • Less stress when mistakes are made
  • Increased confidence and self-efficacy
  • Greater satisfaction

Extrinsic Motivation
Individuals who are extrinsically motivated might express traits such as not wanting to disappoint a people, or are constantly in search of material rewards such as trophies and money as a priority. Extrinsically motivated players, staff or athletes focus on the competitive or performance outcomes themselves with an over-emphasis on extrinsic motivation leading their behaviour to be controlled by extrinsic rewards.

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Behaviour controlled by the extrinsic rewards

  • Motivation Based on
    • Extrinsic rewards – money, media praise, trophies
    • Avoiding punishment or guilt (not my fault)
    • “Should” do something

Our ISSPF Foundation Certificate in Soccer Psychology & Mental Skills Training is the perfect online sport psychology course to not only learn from world leaders in the area, understand the development & application within team sports, but also to be able to enhance your role & guidance as a coach, practitioner, performance or medical staff member.  

All of these questions, skills & components are needed to be able to compete & progress to the next level irrespective of the job or role you perform!

The fact elite players are not only describing the importance of ‘sport science’ support staff within the International team set up at major tournaments, but really utilising them shows the need for the continued education in this area to promote development in football or soccer science.

The demand for sport psychologists & mental skills training specialists with a focus on football science is growing year upon year. Thousands of coaches, students & independent learners with qualifications, coaching badges & sport science degrees, are asking the key question – What now? How do I get a job in football? What’s the next step? Which area of sport science do I want to specialise in?

The bespoke courses developed by ISSPF Faculty members are a way of further exposing sport science students, individuals working within the game & other football science enthusiasts with a thirst to develop further in this area.

The link below will take you to the hugely popular & expertly designed ISSPF endorsed, & accredited Soccer Psychology & Mental Skills Training online sport psychology course, where you will be exposed to football science research and practical examples used within varying levels of team sports. 

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Why is this course important?

  • Understanding the key components of what drives coaches, players, & athletes to succeed is of paramount importance
  • Developing strategies in order to prepare individuals for both training & competitive games from a psychological perspective is of great benefit to coaches & practitioners
  • Coaches & performance practitioners can make huge advances in this under-applied area of coaching & sport science
  • This course is developed specifically to enhance the coaching & performance process
  • All practitioners & coaches can only benefit themselves & their players even further by having a more in-depth knowledge of applied psychology & mental skills training development
  • May help us to maximise our decision making through a better understanding & appreciation of psychological & mental skill principles

Who is this course for?

  • Individuals tasked with the responsibility for the training & coaching aspects of both individual athletes or team sports
  • Individuals with an interest in developing their knowledge in the preparation, training & development of individual athletes or team sports
  • Sport psychologists keen to understand more about soccer science & football training.

Outline of the Soccer Psychology & Mental Skills course:

Module 1: An introduction to sport psychology & its role within soccer: Increasing awareness
Lecturer: Dr. Alonya Grushko (Russia) Dynamo Moscow

Module 2: Energy management in the game
Lecturer: Ricardo Pires (Portugal) SL Benfica

Module 3: Improving focus, attention & concentration in a soccer environment
Lecturer: Omer Ates (Turkey) Besiktas

Module 4: Motivating the Individual
Lecturer: Sarah Murray (England) Brighton & Hove Albion

Module 5: Team cohesion & key lines of communication within soccer
Lecturer: Ricardo Pires (Portugal) SL Benfica

Module 6: Developing self-confidence
Lecturer: Dr. Sion Rowlands (Wales ) Leicester City FC

Module 7: Imagery as a mental skills intervention
Lecturer: Omer Ates (Turkey) Besiktas

Module 8: Coach & Player Self-Reflection
Lecturer: Thomas Pratl (Austria) FC Admira Wacker

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·         How can I improve myself mentally in soccer?

·         How do you get a good mentality in soccer?

·         How much of soccer is mental or psychological?

·         How do you stay calm/relaxed during a soccer game?

·         What does psychological mean in soccer?

·         What are the top 3 tips for developing confidence in soccer?

·         How can I improve my concentration in soccer?

·         What percentage of soccer is mental?

·         What does a sport psychologist do?

·         Sport psychology qualifications?

·         Psychology in soccer?

·         Football psychology


All these frequently asked questions will be answered & further information provided within our ISSPF online sport psychology courses – we look forward to seeing you there!

  • Online sport psychology course
  • Online football psychology