Nature or nurture: the art of team captaincy

Across many professional sports the importance of leadership within teams is broadly acknowledged. Indeed, many teams appoint formal leaders such as captains to help provide this leadership within the team. However, while this is the case there is a lot less clarity regarding what role(s) these captains should be undertaking. Part of the challenge here is the different nature of the captaincy position in different sports. In a sport such as cricket the captain is a key member

Destructive rivalry within the team

I have watched with increasing interest the rivalry and competition that exists within the Mercedes formula one team at the moment. This led me to consider is rivalry within a sports team a good or bad thing? I would probably suggest that it will vary depending on the type of sport and the type of rivalry. The Mercedes team at the moment it is quite a strange set up in terms of a ‘team’. There are, in essence, two individuals competing for the drivers championship who just so

What is the shelf-life of a sports team?

The debacle that was the performance of the England cricket team in Australia has brought to the fore the issue of the longevity of sports teams. There is no doubting that the England cricket team were once an excellent team both in terms of individual performances, and in terms of the performance of the team. However, by the end of the Ashes series there was pretty wide spread recognition that this current team had reached the end of the line. The questions now being posed i

Five ways a sport psychologist can help to improve performance

I still regularly come across the perception of sport psychologists as practitioners who ‘fix’ broken players or help to rebuild individuals once things have gone wrong. However, as all practitioners know this is only a small part of what we do (as sport psychology consultants). Indeed speak to the physical practitioners such as physiotherapists and doctors in sport and they will argue that prevention is much better that cure. This is true of the mental side of performance. E

The Indian team are under pressure to perform – can they cope?

The big challenge in any performance environment is to be able to deliver when it counts. Whether it is in sport, medicine, the military, the theatre, or in music the ability to do it when it counts is of fundamental importance. Coping with the associated pressure in these environments is an important aspect of this ability to perform. But, in order to cope with this pressure you need to first understand where pressure comes from. All pressure is ultimately an internal constr

Everyone’s a psychologist – so what should the psychologist do?

Watching the Abu Dhabi grand prix yesterday, there was an interesting discussion in which the commentators suggested that the engineers also need to be psychologists as well working with the drivers in the race. I thought this was a very interesting and relevant point, and it then started me thinking about what a sport psychologist should actually be doing when working with teams and individuals. In the UK now the coach education process is very comprehensive, coaches are wel

Is golf the ultimate team sport?

I think I have just about recovered from the fantastic finale to the 39th Ryder cup contested by Europe and the USA at the Medinah Country Club, Chicago over the weekend. In recent years the Ryder cup has served up some fantastic close contests between Europe and the USA. It is slightly easier to appreciate this sitting on the European side of the ‘pond’, but even so both teams should be proud. Two years ago at the K club in Ireland the competition was amazing, but I think th

Psychological demands of squad rotation

Increasingly in professional sport teams are looking to put together larger squads of players in an attempt to maintain higher levels of performance over the duration of long competitive seasons, often whilst competing in a number of tournaments. But, while there is a strong rationale for this from a physical perspective, it is questionable as to whether the psychological connotations have been fully considered. For example last night Manchester City Football club (the curren

Selection headaches: Best players or best team?

The recent dropping of Kevin  Peterson, arguably one of the most talented players in the England cricket team, has highlighted an interesting debate for coaches, managers, and selectors involved in team sports. Do you pick the best players or the best team? Kevin Peterson is a very talented cricket player, and on his day he can be one of the most destructive players in international cricket. But, at the same time, Peterson appears to have an issue when it comes to  fitting in