Thriving under pressure in elite para football
Our researchers are developing interventions to enable elite UK para footballers to optimise their response to perceived stressful situations.
Many of the early perceptions of stress were that it was a negative phenomenon that subsequently resulted in poor performance. However, it is now recognised that stress can be both good and bad and can often result in a better outcome.
In elite football, players are exposed to a large volume of stressors and para football is no different. These players are expected to cope with both training and playing demands but also additional organisational stressors that are sometimes specific to their impairment group. Most para footballers are not full-time players. Therefore, they are expected to balance day-to-day work with the demands of elite sport and any additional needs for their impairment.
In an acute scenario, it is how players perceive those stressors that will result in better or worse performance in training or on a matchday. In essence, players will often subconsciously weigh up the demands of a situation and the resources they have to deal with it (namely self-confidence, perceived control and goals).
Research in focus
The focus of our research is to understand the psychophysiological responses to stress in relation to challenge and threat in elite UK para-footballers and how this will vary at different points across the season.
With the support of both Loughborough University and the Football Association it is hoped that this research will lead to the design of interventions that aim to optimise players’ responses to perceived stressful situations, with the result of enhanced playing performance.
This research builds on research produced by Dr Jamie Barker around What makes elite athletes thrive or dive under pressure?