The World Cup is just around the corner. I am one person who will be glued to a TV screen for most of the tournament and most certainly will be tuned in on June the 14th for England’s opening game against Italy.

The fervour has begun. Advertisers are grabbing onto any tiny piece of the World Cup’s shirt tail. I have been cracking up at the mouthwash product Listerine’s advertising campaign; “your mouth has to go through a lot during the world cup” then showing picture of people nervously biting their finger nails, eating crisps, swigging beer and then promoting their mouthwash to deal with it all. How tenuous can you get? On the children’s TV channel, even Dora the Explorer is currently wearing her football shirt and playing in football games against monsters. It has not even started yet and the mania grows daily.


The England football team PR machine rolls on and articles about wives and girlfriends fill the tabloids. I have kept on jokingly offering sage hypnotherapy advice snippets each time my friends, family and I discuss the World Cup, and today, I thought I;d share with you the ways I think I could help England win the world cup by working with the players….

Away from all of the afore-mentioned fervour, what does it take to win this competition? The crowing event of the sporting calendar. Of course, you know what I am going to say…. For me, the team with the right mindset wins a World Cup. The psychology involved in winning a World Cup is fascinating.

When there have been problems with attitudes, pressure, morale, expectancies, distractions (particularly media stuff) and psychology, teams have failed in previous years. When morale is good, attitude is strong, the team is united around a common goal, with a vision and belief, then they stand a pretty good chance of doing well, even if they are not the best team technically.

What things should we be looking out for this World Cup? In what ways would I help England win the world cup? Here are just a couple of things I’d do to bring that trophy home….

1. Install National pride.

Teams filled with players who love playing for their country do well. Those who consider it a privilege and honour to represent a nation. A nation filled with fans and supporters urging them on. England manager Roy Hodgson has apparently ordered the team to sing the national anthem at the start of games.

In this article at the Daily Mirror, it states:

Hodgson will tell his men not to be “shy” about showing their patriotism.

He said: “You rarely play an international match against opponents and they haven’t got their hands on their hearts, singing their anthem as loud as they can.

“We made the decision very early on, that we’d do what every other team does.

“The thing is we are proud, we are happy to be wearing that England shirt, so when the National Anthem comes up it’s an obvious one for me that we sing it. My hope is that they will all sing it.”

He is right. Just watch the winning teams get emotional during those anthems. Feeling it. Since 1966, the closes we have come to winning the world cup was the year when Paul Gascoigne wore his heart on his sleeve and shed tears during the world cup semi-final loss against Germany. Our teams have not fared so well since and it is often a criticism angled at England teams in recent years that they do not play with as much passion and pride for England as they do for their clubs.

A good hypnotherapist can help players mentally rehearse doing this, can help players to amplify pride and feel a sense of ownership and value for those they are representing. That’s where I’d help instil a big sense of national pride for those players who felt they were lacking.

2. Being able to score a penalty.

Apart from the wonderful 1996 penalty shoot-out win against Spain in the European Cup, England have lost five other penalty shoot-outs. We have been the plucky and unlucky losers. Many think that it is all about dealing with pressure and coping psychologically. I mean, when you earn your living kicking a football around, you really ought, at the very least, be able to hit a target the size of a goal, right?

Yet, the classic imagination experiment which is often done on personal development trainings shows how much our minds get in the way. If asked to walk across a plank in the middle of a room, you easily do it. But asked to imagine vividly that it is balancing across two skyscrapers high up in the sky, it becomes trickier. Heck, if you were asked to really walk it in the sky, it’d be far more of a challenge, eh?

In this very funny article at the Guardian, reviewing the book Twelve Yards by Ben Lyttleton, looking at the art and psychology of the perfect penalty, a couple of penalty icons are quoted when asked about how they took penalties:

Matt Le Tissier. “To be honest, I never really gave it much thought. I just stepped up to the ball and whacked it.”

Antonin Panenka. “It’s basically a piece of piss. I got so bored smacking it in the corner, I started to chip the keeper down the middle.”

The attitude is quite different to those you suspect are possessed by frequent misers on big occasions.

Hypnotherapy can help control mental calmness, overcome distractions, focus and get into peak mental state. I would also help with mental rehearsal and motivation to practice and develop the skill, not forgetting boosting confidence and self-efficacy.

3. Having the winning mentality.

When teams expect to win, they tend to do well. Expectation builds self-efficacy and evidence shows that self-efficacy creates success. However, slightly different to high expectation is a need to win. That is, a ‘win at all costs attitude’ that some teams seem to have.

In this article at the Australian Telegraph, football referee (I refuse to refer to our game as ‘soccer’ and games that use the hands ‘football *tuts*) Matthew Sampson won a scholarship to study a psychology PhD at Cambridge University by examining the ‘win-at-all-costs’ attitude. It shows a picture from the infamous England game against Argentina when Diego Maradona scored a goal against England by using his hand, and looks at others for whom winning was so important, they went to any lengths to get it; Mike Tyson’s biting, Lance Armstrong’s doping and so on.

Hypnotherapy helps players develop a good attitude that serves them well. It helps with cognitions, making them progressive and developing useful beliefs and expectancy. Most importantly, it can help players find the right mental attitude for them that serves as a winning attitude, congruent with that individual.

There needs to be a balance. The winning mentality needs to include a strong desire, with correct morals, and then also expectancy to do well and win. Some of the English players are in club sides that seem to have all of these things, and I am going to be writing about much more on this in coming weeks, but for now, these are some fun considerations that are on my mind and I thought I’d share with you. I’d make sure England won the world cup 😉

I’ll be back soon.