Attitude Killers

According to ex Manchester United sports psychologist Bill Beswick there are 2 great killers of player or team attitude, they are:

  1. Expectations and
  2. Consequences


The more a player progresses the more expectation is put upon him. All players will worry about what people will say and think about them. They also set expectations about themselves.


The higher the level, the more players are reminded of the consequences of defeat, and the more they will face the internal battles of anxiety versus confidence, tension versus relaxation, and pressure versus pleasure.

Coaches Responsibility

It is the prime responsibility of the coach to relieve players of these burdens so that they may play with a winning attitude. The great coaches can get their players intense without getting them tense.

Coaches should re-frame these attitudes killers in their players’ minds with such messages as:

  • The only expectations that are important are yours, those belonging to the team and what we decide as a team to aim for.
  • Identify the worst that can happen and ask, “Can we deal with it?” It’s OK to be worried-everybody worries-but you can act confidently regardless of how you feel. As a team we will handle defeats together and use them as feedback in our journey to excellence.


I can understand the coaches desire to get intensity from their players both in matches and in training but I have seen and felt the negative consequences of this first hand. For example when performing a drill in training the coach will criticize people for misplaced passes with the intention that the players will concentrate more, this normally has the negative effect of placing expectation in the mind of the player that they must complete every pass perfectly and thus increasing their anxiety levels.

I feel it would be much more beneficial for the coach to demand concentration and actively encourage it while allowing the players to feel comfortable to make mistakes as long as they are trying to learn from them.

I feel this is a small change that would have a big effect on the psychology of the team.

Source: Focused for Soccer by Bill Beswick


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