Rugby Psychology: Japan – A Powerful Cause!

It began with an emotive national anthem. Always an early sign of the potential for a special performance. And then it continued with a blistering first half display that blew Scotland away. It ended with Japan qualifying for their first ever World Cup quarter-final. And with many critics opining that it was the best World Cup match they had ever seen. That was possibly because, Japan were playing for more than themselves. The typhoon which caused havoc the days prior to the Scotland match, gave the Japanese team a powerful focus for their emotions. A reason to succeed beyond themselves. […]

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Golf Psychology: Shane Lowry – Calmness!

And so Shane Lowry is crowned Champion Golfer for 2019. The only threat to his commanding position at the top of the overnight leaderboard appeared to be himself. Would memories of his lost four shot lead at the US Open come back to haunt him? Would the lure of holding the Claret Jug aloft inveigle his thought process? The answer was No on both counts. By the closing holes, Lowry was experiencing the super-natural calm, that is the preserve of those who know that all is in place for success. A lot of that calmness emanated from the presence of […]

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Golf Psychology: Rory McIlroy – Expectations!

It’s day one of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush. And Rory McIlroy is on the tee. This isn’t just any old Open for Rory. It’s the homecoming. The first Open in his beloved Northern Ireland since 1951. Most of the pre-tournament publicity seems to be built around him. But with all that in mind, you’d expect this multiple Major winner to take it all in his stride. Ride the wave of expectation and channel it all into his focus and belief. But it couldn’t have started any worse for Rory. His opening tee shot find itself out of bounds. […]

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Football Psychology: Vincent Kompany – The Unknowns!

There’s twenty minutes left on the clock. The Etihad is simmering with tension and anxiety. Brendan Rodgers defensive game plan is denying Manchester City opportunities. City’s title hopes are under threat. Then up steps Vincent Kompany. Bringing the ball forward, the Leicester defence back off and back off. Vinnie was not identified as a goal threat going forward! Brendan Rodgers had factored in everything else. But not this! Moments later Kompany’s blistering twenty-five yarder hits the back of the net. And the ground goes crazy. No one wanted or expected the City captain to shoot. But that was precisely the […]

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Snooker Psychology: Neil Robertson – Freedom!

It’s been nine years since Neil Robertson last secured his only  World Championship. But based on his demolition of Shaun Murphy at The Crucible yesterday, it may not be long before his next World Crown. In brushing aside Murphy, Robertson demonstrated a clinical display of break-building. The cue ball on a string. His practise game made real. Afterwards Neil talked about free he felt. Playing to entertain the crowd. Nothing about winning the title. It’s similar to how Jurgen Klopp has been speaking during Liverpool’s title run in. ‘We are on a journey with the fans’. The focus being on […]

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Snooker Psychology: Graham Dott – Nine All!

It’s another day of dramatic action at the Crucible Theatre. After James Cahill’s compelling win over Ronnie O’Sullivan, Graham Dott is mounting a serious recovery operation against former champion Stuart Bingham. From 8-1 down in the morning session, Dott has brought the scores level to 9-9. He has serious momentum. And Bingham is struggling. But in the final frame, the Scotsman starts to get edgy for the first time in the session. From chasing down his opponent, he can now smell the winning line. His flow and fluency desert him, and Bingham finds enough composure to get home 10-9. When […]

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Football Psychology: Maurizio Sarri – Motivation!

It’s a critical time in Maurizio Sarri’s brief Chelsea career. Humbling losses to Bournemouth, Manchester City and United have created the feeling that the sack is imminent. One of the key things to come from his recent post-match debriefs, was the admittance that he wasn’t motivating his players. This is enough to get alarm bells ringing. Motivation is the oil that turns the wheels of the success machine. Without it, things quickly grind to a halt. Players start to look disinterested and lacking in energy and vibrancy. Defeats come easily. Motivation can work on an individual and collective level. At […]

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Football Psychology: Cardiff City – Emiliano!

It’s the aftermath of Cardiff City’s vital win against Bournemouth. And Cherries boss Eddie Howe looks completely flat. His team haven’t been able to handle Cardiff’s intensity; desire and will. They have not only lost the game physically. They have lost it emotionally too. But none of this is surprising. Yesterday would probably have been Emiliano Sala’s debut for Cardiff. The floral tributes outside the stadium, demonstrated how much his disappearance has touched the hearts of the Cardiff public. A cause is one of the powerful motivators in sport. Having something or someone to play for outside of yourself. A […]

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Football Psychology: Marco Silva – Set Pieces!

It’s an afternoon of high drama at the New Den, as Millwall put Everton out of the FA Cup. Three set-piece goals expose the Merseysider’s achilles heel, and pile the pressure on Marco Silva. It’s still January and Everton have conceded fourteen set -piece goals this season. Making the heart of the penalty-box a critical target for opposition strategists. One of the things that generally sets apart the best managers from the rest, is the ability to solve problems quickly. Good problem solving involves honesty, smart analysis; an attention to detail; the ability to sometimes swallow your pride and admit […]

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Football Psychology: Marcelo Bielsa – An Uncommon Transparency!

It’s a week after the infamous Leeds United / Derby County spygate sage. And Marcelo Bielsa has called a press conference. Speculation mounts that Bielsa is about to resign on a point of principle. But it’s nothing of the sort. For ninety minutes the Argentine lays bare the reasons why he likes to find ways to observe his opponents in training and how he integrates the information into his pre-match planning. He’s meticulous. Obsessive. Fanatical about detail. Leaving no stone unturned in making sure everything is in place. His openness and transparency directly challenges the orthodoxy of conventional football management […]

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