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Sports Psychology

Having trouble getting ‘into the zone’? Fluffing the big moments? Choking when you need to be your best? We can help. After successful work with individual players and teams in Lancashire and across the North West we will show you techniques that will help you focus, relax and achieve more in competition. It doesn’t matter if you want to master the pitch, the course, the field, or the court, we will help you control the mental aspects of your game.

Learn more about Steve's work with Northwich Victoria FC. Download PDF>>

Steve's work with Fleetwood Town FC

Fleetwood Town manager Micky Mellon called for his players to exercise mental strength and concentrate for the full 90 minutes during the club’s debut season in the Blue Square North.  Mellon has now taken this a step further by recruiting the services of sports psychologist Steve Pope.
Sport psychology is all about matching mental strength with on-the-field skills and body conditioning. The process is about how people overcome confidence and the barriers that stand in the way of peak individual and team performance.

Pope, a former solicitor in the port, brings Premiership experience in the sports psychology field and has worked with top names from the world of football. “I’ve worked in Scotland with Rangers and in the Premiership with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in team settings. During my time working at the Priory I’ve worked individually with some legends of the game. Locally, I’m involved with Burnley and most recently have just spent two months with Northwich Victoria in the Conference National.
“ Although Northwich didn’t escape relegation I’d like to think I had some input in their recent run of four wins, one draw and a single defeat. Prior to my arrival they had only won two games all season. With all the problems at the club – the players hadn’t been paid for three months – I like to think I helped their manager Andy Preece in preparing those players properly.”
The psychologist feels Fleetwood Town are already in a good position but thinks an extra edge can be added to team performance. “I’ve worked on many clubs over the years and the spirit at all the way through Highbury is amazing. From a psycho-therapeutic perspective the atmosphere at the club is first class and this goes from the chairman through the playing staff and into rest of the club. “
Although Pope’s work concentrates on making players ready for kick-off, it also looks at everyday factors which may affect performance. “My work will embrace putting focus on match day readiness and building confidence. It’s also to do with dealing with every day issues. 
“ Modern sport, not just soccer, has realised participants are all human beings. Whilst we see players on the football pitch on a Saturday afternoon but we forget they have lives like the rest of us.  This brings the issues the rest of us face such as family problems or finances.  Part-time players also find themselves with work problems as well. These issues can and do stand in the way of peak performance.
“ I’m not here to give out psycho babble.  I’m here to work with Micky Mellon, his coaches and the players. The manager introduced me at training and the lads were quite receptive. Hopefully I can add to that by ensuring the players are prepared for every game. It’s been shown that proper mental preparation can increase performance by 10 to 15%. It’s all about ensuring players have an advantage before they even step out onto the pitch.”
Micky Mellon feels any step which gives his players an advantage is worthwhile. “The facility is there if a player needs to realign their mind before a game.  It’s totally up to them to decide. If it helps a player just 1% then it’s worthwhile. We are always looking at new ways of trying to get better as a football club and if it is good enough for Premiership teams then good enough for us. Steve will be there if the lads need him. They will know he is available to talk about anything they want. Outside the football they have lives and things sometimes become complicated. Steve is there to help unravel things and if we take the benefit then it’s a positive for the club.”
Pope worked with the team before the Stafford Rangers game and will travel with the players to Droylsden on Saturday for Town’s final game of the Blue Square North campaign.


Steve's work with Fleetwood Town FC's Steve Connors

Steven Connors, Fleetwood Town’s combative midfield player, could be forgiven for not dancing to celebrate completing his first year at the club since his move from Bradford Park Avenue in February 2009.  Following a settled period in which he has played some of his best football for Town, Steven is currently sidelined with a muscle problem behind the knee which is restricting movement.

‘ I’ve been working closely with the club’s physiotherapists, Danny Moore and Ian ‘SOS’ Liversedge, who have both been brilliant. I’ve been doing pretty well until training last Tuesday when it sort of went on me again, not as severe as before but a bit of a setback.  Not too sure when I’ll be back – it depends on how it reacts.’
Steven has had plenty of opportunity to reflect on the season and his recent good form.
‘ Obviously I’ve been in and out of the team since moving to Fleetwood and that makes it hard to get some form.  Up to the injury, however, I had been doing well in the games I played and showing a bit of what I can do.’
A highlight was his opening goal of the season in the New Year’s Day victory over Southport. Immediately after scoring Town’s first with his back post header, Connors ran to celebrate with the club’s Sports Psychologist, Steve Pope.
‘ Popey’s been brilliant with me, and with all the lads, but has really helped me when I’ve been short of confidence.  I took a bit of stick from the fans and obviously it gets on your mind. Steve’s been with me all the time and helped me to put negative thoughts to the back of my mind. In the end you can only do it for yourself but Steve gives you ways of working on your focus and determination.  He’s been absolutely brilliant behind the scenes.’

Connors has matured a great deal of late under the wing of Pope and manager, Micky Mellon. Rash on arrival, he collected several red cards but is now calmer and building a more positive attitude. He is in a good place to learn his trade but understands that when he does return to action he will need to work hard to stay in the team. He is quick to acknowledge the exciting developments at the club.
‘ The squad’s getting bigger and I’ve got to do it for myself in order to get regular chances.  With Anthony Barry signing recently, it’s getting better and better.  Having a large squad can only benefit the club.  Others, such as Southport, have smaller numbers and this may count against them over the remainder of the season.’
Turning to the run-in, Connors was not fazed by the prospect of playing two thirds of the matches away from Highbury. 
‘ I don’t mind away games. It’s good to be at home in front of your own crowd and on a pitch you know but with the squad that we have our lads can perform anywhere. I’m looking forward to it to be honest.’
Despite his recent setback, Connors remains one of the most popular members of Town’s squad, with his cheery humour and ability to put smiles on faces. He always finds time for the young mascots on match days and is happy to support the club in other ways, kindly agreeing to present medals and certificates at a Fleetwood primary schools festival at Fleetwood Sports College on 11th March.

All at the club will hope that as Steven’s second year begins, he will soon be free from injury and back showing the fans that he is a player to watch for the future.

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