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What is really stopping our players from winning? Expert opinions

Date: May 22, 2024 Time: 17:22:18

Fragmented motivation – this is why Alexey Smertin expressed in his forceful statement, trying to explain the psychology of the players and answer questions about the poor performance of the team. What did he mean? In short, according to Smertin, Russian players are only capable of achieving good results at short distances. The playing time in football is too long and the coach’s motivation for success is not enough for this period. Is this really so? We propose that you understand the topic together with sports psychologists and a doctor.

Mental characteristics of Russian players.

The quality of the game and high team results are influenced by mental characteristics and generational conflict, says sports psychologist of the CSKA football club Evgeniy Fomin. He points out that in Russia there are old authoritarian attitudes that do not allow players to open up. Footballers are often afraid of making a mistake and do not take risks. Hence the very mediocre performance in games.

Candidate of Medical Sciences, sports psychologist FC CSKA

“There is a rational tone in the statement of former Russian national team midfielder Alexei Smertin. In fact, motivation for short periods of time can work better and stronger. It’s hard to keep players equally motivated to win during periods of five to seven minutes on the field in hockey or 45 minutes in soccer.

But if we take examples from other sports, for example biathlon, where the country shows good results despite the length of the distance, several questions arise. And perhaps time spent in the field does not have such a strong impact on motivation. “I would highlight other factors that influence the performance of Russian athletes.”

I would say one of them is the huge popularity of football on the world stage. It is played in more than 200 countries. Consequently, competition increases and the bar for player performance is raised. Footballers are also constantly under the attention of the media and fans. The audience literally watches every move of the players. Such a burden of responsibility places great pressure on athletes. They are afraid of making a mistake and finding themselves in an uncomfortable situation. And sport, like any other area of ​​life, in modern realities requires advances and atypical solutions.

Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, “Championship”

It is difficult for a footballer under constant pressure to take risks and build non-standard game combinations, since the fear of defeat is rooted within him. For the players of the Russian national team it is easier to play according to the usual schemes than to be against the established system. However, these installations provide stability in the results, but do not give shine.

The life of football players from other countries is also actively watched by paparazzi and fans, they are also subject to tough competition, but the results of some teams are much better. Because? Quite reasonable questions arise. Here it is worth delving into psychology and mental attitudes.

The mentality of different peoples is structured differently. This is undeniable. However, more and more countries are coming to the conclusion that players should be given more freedom and should not be pressured to make mistakes. A tolerant and trusting attitude helps footballers to be creative and take risks without fear of losing everything. This scheme allows you to be more relaxed on the field and suffer fewer injuries. As a result, motivation and the desire to express oneself increases.

Photo: Alexander Safonov, “Championship”

Today in Russia there is a situation when the coaches of the old formation cannot fully communicate with young players. They are not always ready to feel when they need to calm down, support themselves and when to push and insist. A kind of generational conflict arose. The harsh authoritarian methodology characteristic of the Soviet period is outdated and does not act as the main motivator for victories. Young players want to communicate with the coach on an equal footing and to be heard.

It seems to me that a full-time psychologist can influence the situation and resolve conflicts. A specialist is capable of ironing out rough edges, giving recommendations on the motivation and internal state of the players and establishing communication within the team. But most of the coaches of Russian clubs believe that this is not necessary, that they themselves are capable of creating a favorable climate in the team.

All European clubs have psychologists, but it is very rare here, even in the best clubs. I would really like the trend of solving one’s own problems to reach us.

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Fan support

The performance of the Russian team is mainly influenced by the support of the fans. A sports psychologist is sure of this Felix Shifrin. It is the faith in the victory of the majority that can give energy and lead the team to the first place. Then everything will be fine with motivation.

sports psychologist and coach, specialist in the field of mental development in sports

“We can agree with Alexey Smertin regarding the influence of fragmented motivation. However, he wouldn’t point to it as the main reason. Let’s solve it step by step.”

If we think that the optimal motivation is to demonstrate confidence, concentration and composure on the field, then the distance of a soccer match is really too much. During this time, the coach’s positive attitudes given before the game erode due to negative mental patterns and lack of faith in his own abilities. This, of course, leads to loss of concentration and self-control.

Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, “Championship”

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Fragmented motivation is rather a consequence of another important reason. It’s about the fans’ lack of faith in the team. It is the criticism that comes from one’s own side that exerts moral pressure, difficult to overcome during a long match.

When answering the question about the reasons for the failures of Russian football players in the context of sports psychology, it is worth mentioning the image of the “I”, the idea that the individual has about himself. And unfortunately he does not occupy a high position. This phenomenon has a significant impact on the performance of athletes and the team as a whole.

If we take our hockey players, then they have much more self-confidence, because they know that they are strong on the world stage. This is a positive motivating factor and helps maintain a high level of play. The confidence of each player, the feeling that “it’s okay”, helps the hockey player to better cope with pressure and stress during games.

In football we have developed a different mentality. The image of a country inferior to other teams has been engraved in our heads. This negatively affects the motivation and confidence of the players. A negative self-image often leads to a loss of self-control and a fear of failure.

Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, “Championship”

This mentality is also a psychological effect of mass culture. Mental patterns and expectations created by society affect athletes. If the environment perceives a certain sport as a “strength” or a “weakness” of a country, this will influence the intrinsic motivation of the players.

How did this image of the “I” develop? Why are we historically strong in hockey, but not in soccer? Historical and cultural traditions, as well as climatic characteristics, had an influence. It should also be noted that soccer has a longer history than hockey and therefore the competition between countries is much higher here. A positive result is more difficult to achieve.

Hockey in Russia has a rich history and traditions. This sport is very popular in the country. We are one of the main hockey powers, which is reflected in the successful performances of the national team and, as a result, affects the collective image of “me”.

Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, “Championship”

In football we had the opportunity to change our perception of ourselves. For example, after Euro 2008, until the match in Maribor in the fall of 2009, Russia was fully perceived as a top-tier team. Our successes are largely due to the fact that we once achieved a great victory, which we later managed to confirm. This is exactly how the psychology of a winner is formed.

A positive and confident self-awareness will always be a driver of success, while a negative perception is more likely to become a barrier to achieving outstanding results. This is the division between the psychology of the winner and the psychology of the loser.

Read the true story about the power of motivation:


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Lack of quality sports schools.

Meanwhile, the sports doctor of the Russian football team Mikhail Vartapetov he believes that the reasons for the team’s poor performance on the world stage are not motivation problems and mental differences between generations, but the lack of a large number of schools for boys. He is sure that the country lacks quality training for future soccer players. The appearance of a sufficient number of young, committed and highly paid coaches will change the situation and take the national team to a new level.

doctor of the Russian football team, member of the RFU medical committee

“Fragmented motivation is a term that is not found in serious scientific literature on sports psychology. However, its essence can be deciphered as follows: “I want to play, I want – no, I want to train, I want – no.”

In fact, the new generation of Russian footballers suffer less and less from this syndrome. However, experts note a decrease in the skill level of our players, something that cannot be argued. In my opinion, the roots of this problem go deeper. “It’s not just a lack of motivation.”

“According to my observations, in some cases the low motivation among young players occurs after signing the first good contract. People start to feel dizzy from the salary figures that suddenly fall on their heads and affect their fragile psyche.

In all other cases, the reasons for the decline in the level of our football must be sought in children’s and youth football. This is where serious reforms are called for, this is where there is a catastrophic shortage of qualified coaches and scout breeders at living wages. And the results of their work should be evaluated not by the winning places in various children’s tournaments, but by the number of students who played at a high professional level. Soccer is still the most popular sport in our country, but quality academies can be counted on one hand.”

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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