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    The importance of confidence in football – and how to cultivate it

    A dejected Kepa Arrizabalaga after Southampton scored an equaliser to get the game back to 2-2 in October 2020.
    Image courtesy of The Guardian

    Excerpts of the following story by Ben Welch for the Blizzard are courtesy if The Guardian from May 27, 2021

    Psychologists and players share their tips for staying self-assured – and explain why the trick could be in your left hand

    By Ben Welch for The BlizzardBen Welch

    Kepa Arrizabalaga is on his knees, hands on hips, watching Southampton’s Che Adams wheel away to an empty corner of Stamford Bridge. Celebratory screams echo around a vacant stadium haunted by a global pandemic. There are no comforting looks from Kepa’s teammates, no shouts of encouragement, just an awkward air of inevitability. It had happened again. The world’s most expensive goalkeeper had cost his team yet another goal.

    “That was a nightmare as far as the goalkeeper and the Chelsea defence were concerned,” observed the BT Sport commentator Ian Darke. This time the young Spaniard had let a poor backpass from Kurt Zouma slip under his leg, before comically sliding into the post as he tried to atone for his error. Adams retrieved the ball and smashed it into the roof of the net to level the scores.

    Arrizabalaga’s list of misdemeanours reads like the rap-sheet of a teenage delinquent past the point of no return. Ajax, Valencia, Liverpool, Arsenal, Southampton, Newcastle United – all beneficiaries of his self-sabotage. Recency bias compels pundits and fans to categorise the £71.5m goalkeeper as a flop, forgetting the crucial role he played in Chelsea’s successful Europa League campaign in 2019.

    Che Adams scores past Kepa Arrizabalaga.
    Che Adams scores past Kepa Arrizabalaga. Photograph: Ben Stansall/Pool/PA

    Arrizabalaga is not the only member of the Premier League’s goalkeepers union to find themselves caught in a storm. David De Gea, Jack Butland, Joe Hart and Jordan Pickford have all been weakened by an inexplicable kryptonite. Failure, followed by a surge of unfiltered feedback, is an occupational hazard for any elite footballer, but what turns one isolated mistake into the dreaded “poor run of form”?

    Players don’t suddenly forget how to play the game, so this loss of function and confidence must run deeper, emanating from a malfunction in the body’s nerve centre – the brain. As modern football continues to embrace sports science and psychology, players and coaches are integrating these disciplines into their programmes in a bid to hack high performance. But could you eradicate the fear of failure by simply clenching your left fist? And yes, it has to be your left fist. More of that later.

    For more of the story by Ben Welch, please go to

    About Ben Welch


    With have more than 17 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and producer I’m a multipurpose creator with the skillset and experience to produce content in a variety of forms: written, video, social and audio, Ben Welch is currently the Lead Channel Manager for SPORTbible, managing the video output for one of the UK’s largest sports publishers with more than 17 million followers across social media. 

    Ben is the co-creator of Beasted! An eight-part body transformation show commissioned by Facebook that attracted 10 million views and I have leveraged brand access to some of the world’s biggest sports stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Usain Bolt and Steph Curry.

    Prior to this Ben spent the best part of 10 years with specialist football title FourFourTwo, where I occupied a number of roles, from staff writer to head of video.

    Ben’s website can be found at:

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