Sport needs to pay more heed to psychology, says former SFA Chief Executive

7 February 2018

“Most of the people I have dealt with over the years have no understanding of the impact their own attitude and behaviour has on their protégés – and have little regard for psychology.” 

This was just one of the areas explored by Gordon Smith during a masterclass at Glasgow Caledonian University last night (February 6) on the importance of psychology in sport.

Smith, a graduate of GCU, who played football for Rangers, Brighton and Hove Albion, Kilmarnock, and had spells in Switzerland and Austria, is a former chief executive of the Scottish Football Association.

Now working as a football analyst on BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound, he has been a football agent and was Director of Football at Rangers FC.

His masterclass focused on the role psychology plays in all sports, including football, tennis and golf, and included insights from the university scholarship system in America.

He said: “Mental strength is crucial and as football is a results business, you have to deal with highs and lows on a regular basis. At the highest level of the game, you need to be able to handle it even more.

“There are three important elements in the development of young people in sport; athleticism, technique and psychology.

“I believe it is important to educate coaches about the importance of psychology as, only then, will we be more confident that young players are being positively developed. Motivation should come from the individual and not the coach - it’s a major part of an individual’s commitment and they should be engaged at all times.”