Building the mental and social skills of young athletes in Iceland

Dr Chris Harwood is currently working to help sports clubs in Iceland build the mental and social skills of young athletes.

Icelandic website has run the following article to promote the work that Dr Chris Harwood, Professor of Sport Psychology, is doing to help sports clubs in Iceland:

Duty rests on sports

Dr Chris Harwood is currently working to help sports clubs in this country build the mental and social skills of young athletes. When asked, Chris says that such skills of athletes are one of the key factors in building a positive sports culture.

"Sports have a duty to educate people and help them thrive and behave appropriately in all areas of life," says Harwood in an interview with

Harwood is a professor at Loughborough University in the UK. He held a course at Reykjavík University yesterday, but now he is looking to implement his method called The 5C's, or the Icelandic C-in five in this country, at Ármann's gymnastics department and Fylkir's football department.

Train five aspects of psychological and social skills

Both the clubs' employees and coaches are involved, along with the research team and staff working on this project.

The project is about training five aspects of the psychological and social skills of children and adolescents in sports, just like the physical ones. These factors are commitment, communication, self-confidence, self-discipline and concentration.

The project is run by ÍSÍ, UMFÍ, KSÍ, the Icelandic Gymnastics Association, Reykjavík University and Loughborough University in England. The project has received a grant of ISK 30 million from the European Union's Erasmus + grant program.

Harwood worked for a time as a psychologist for junior teams in British football. He also found that coaches often did not focus on training psychological and social skills.

"The focus was on technical and physical skills, not on psychological and social skills. I thought it was important to ensure that attention was focused on these aspects, "says Harwood.

Helps them in all of life

Therefore, Harwood developed the C-in five, to help coaches and players see the opportunities that exist in football to strengthen the psychological and social skills of football.

"This is something that helps them not only in sports but also in their whole lives," says Harwood.

"We work with coaches to help them understand what each C means and what great skills in each aspect look like. They can then work with it further, in training, in games and in communication. The coaches have to work with the ideology on their own terms, according to their culture. The coaches here in Iceland, for example, know the culture here much better than I do. "

Unused opportunity 

The aim is also to make it clear to the athletes themselves what social and spiritual skills look like and how they can be improved. Then they can set their own goals in that regard.

"Once they realize that, they can continue to work to strengthen those benefits," Harwood said.

When asked, he says that there is a general lack of training in social and mental skills in sports in Europe. Harwood says that in that respect there are many untapped opportunities to build individuals, a strong sports team and a healthy community.

Please note: This article has been translated using Google Translate