Success and Failure in Football

Success and failure play the largest role in the context of changes in mood in football. At the same time, the mere prospect of success or failure and the associated fears and apprehensions play a decisive role in short-term or long-term mental states. Fear of failure is often expressed in the fear of making mistakes, which is probably the most significant cause of stress in professional football. According to the studies, the professional status of a player does not seem to be a disadvantage, but rather an advantage. Professionals and experienced players are less discouraged by failure and less fearful of making mistakes than amateurs or inexperienced footballers.

Unpleasant moods (stress reactions such as fear, anger, frustration) have to be dealt with appropriately by the players so that they do not perpetuate and thus cause lasting damage to mental health. Different behaviors, strategies or techniques help to cope with stress reactions in professional sport.

According to a study by Holt (2002), very different stress management techniques are used in international women’s football. They range from cognitive techniques (for example revaluation of loads) on use of social support and behavioral changes (for example, communication with the coach) to the hiding of stressors. Especially with performance deficits and failure is difficult to cope with, since the players’ attention is particularly focused on actual-target discrepancies- switching off is then particularly difficult. The problem above all appears to be that even young athletes often (13 percent) have unfavorable forms of coping.

Coping processes not only determine whether stress leads to impairment of mental health, but also how high stress levels – for example fear – affect performance. However, because coping is mostly left out in the investigation of the consequences of fear, the results on the relationship between fear and performance in football research are inconsistent.

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Social relationships and conflicts

Among the causes of mental disorders, social aspects of training and competition are of particular importance, that is, the relationships to the sporting and non-sporting social environment have a high impact on satisfaction and well-being as well as emotional disturbances and malaise. The fear of a negative evaluation by the coach often plays a special role, which is shown, for example, by the fact that training games at the beginning of the season (i.e. in phases in which the starting eleven is determined) are sometimes more associated with fear than later competition games. In a positive way, the interaction and communication with other people can also be emotionally relieving if support, assistance and social closeness are perceived.

In professional football, social relationships are structured very complexly. They can be divided into the close sporting environment, the close non-sporting environment and the wider social environment inside and outside of sport.

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The impact of these relationship levels on mental health depends on the closeness the players perceive to the people involved and the importance of the issue that stretches between the people involved. For example, apparently unimportant things can have an impact if they concern a very close relationship; likewise, a weak relationship through a meaningful object (such as the player’s pride and self-image) can have a high impact on mental health.

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