England Under 21s appoint sports psychologist for Euros (UK)
The Football Association have assigned a sports psychologist to the England Under 21 technical staff in order to maximise their chances of success at Euro 2017. Rebecca Symes runs the company Sporting Success and has worked with Lane 4 management, a company that is closely aligned to the FA; she will be on hand in Poland to provide support to the players and the coaching staff during the difficult moments in the tournament.
Symes is well-respected in her field and has been to Paralympic games, in London and Rio de Janeiro, and she has spent nine years working at Surrey County Cricket Club. The decision to recruit her comes after the FA examined why the last Under-21 tournament ended in such disappointment.
Even though England had a squad in the Czech Republic that contained Harry Kane, John Stones and Jesse Lingard, they failed to get out of their group again and that was the consequence of many freezing in the decisive final game against Italy. Aidy Boothroyd, the current Under 21 head coach, has held conversations with many who were involved in that campaign, including Gareth Southgate and his assistant Steve Holland, and it was felt England lacked the kind of assistance Symes can provide.
‘We didn’t think we had that support last time so we will be taking a sports psychologist with us,’ said Boothroyd. ‘Her role is to prepare the players to talk about what goes on inside their heads when we get to flight, fight and freeze and make sure we’re aware of it in ourselves and others.
‘I think the psychology of it all is the key, there’s no doubt about that in my mind. You’ve got to get all the other bits right as well but it’s certainly the little bit. You can be the most gifted player in the world and understand tactically what you’re supposed to do and when you’re supposed to do it.
‘But if you haven’t got that little bit of confidence that makes the difference then you’re not going to get that medal. So we literally don’t want to leave a stone unturned. The players are open to it. There is nothing sinister. All the best teams have support.’
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