Study on Soccer Reveals psychological insights during times of crisis

Study on Soccer Reveals psychological insights during times of crisis

As the UEFA EURO 2024 is set to begin, the spotlight is on the hopes and fears that come with victory and defeat in professional soccer. A recent study conducted by researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) delves into the intricate psychodynamics of team crises in the world of soccer. The study, published in the German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research, highlights how unexpected disappointments can trigger a downward spiral of failure at both individual and team levels.

Reflecting on the history of disappointments faced by the German men’s soccer team post their World Cup win in Brazil, the study emphasizes the negative impact of team crises on players. Professor Darko Jekauc, a sports psychologist at KIT, leads the research team in exploring the psychological and social mechanisms that contribute to the development of crises in soccer teams.

The study reveals that a crisis in a team starts when expectations are not met, leading to pressure, anxiety, and decreased self-confidence among players. These emotional states pave the way for harmful group dynamics, such as loss of motivation, communication breakdown, conflicts, and weakened team cohesion. This toxic mix often results in a defensive mindset on the field, further deteriorating team performance and perpetuating the crisis.

To counteract such crises, the researchers propose crisis resilience strategies for soccer players, emphasizing the importance of managing expectations, fostering positive emotional states, and supporting healthy motivation. Crisis management training should include activities that strengthen player resilience, promote team dynamics, and provide psychological support to players under emotional stress.

Professor Jekauc emphasizes the need for coaches and managers to develop proactive strategies that bolster player resilience and teamwork, especially in times of high expectations and public pressure. Intervention in acute crises may involve team-building exercises, conflict resolution training, and psychological support for players facing heightened emotional stress.

In conclusion, the study underscores the complexity of team crises in soccer and the importance of raising awareness among players and training staff. It calls for increased monitoring, psychological expertise in crisis intervention communication, and further research on crisis management in soccer. By understanding the psychodynamics of team crises, soccer teams can strive to prevent and overcome challenges to achieve success on and off the field.