January 24, 2022

the opinion of a sports psychologist on the situation of the team

Currently with the Guinea team at the Africa Cup of Nations, Anthony Mette is a doctor in psychology specializing in sport and health. He has published several books on mental preparation and created a specialized school whose lessons are given at the Haillan Technical Center.


Anthony Mette, doctor in sports psychology, founded Focus, a school of mental preparation based in Bordeaux.

Florent Larronde

What recent events in the Girondins inspire thoughts for the doctor in psychology that you are?

For a…

Currently with the Guinea team at the Africa Cup of Nations, Anthony Mette is a doctor in psychology specializing in sport and health. He has published several books on mental preparation and created a specialized school whose lessons are given at the Haillan Technical Center.

Anthony Mette, doctor in sports psychology, founded Focus, a school of mental preparation based in Bordeaux.

Anthony Mette, doctor in sports psychology, founded Focus, a school of mental preparation based in Bordeaux.

Florent Larronde

What recent events in the Girondins inspire thoughts for the doctor in psychology that you are?

For a team to work and for the players to be happy and successful, the company and the system must work. You need a clear line, clear-cut choices, clarity in the messages, the feeling that everyone is at their post, working and getting involved. If the system is not running properly, players cannot make it onto the field. If I believe what I read, and what I know off, this is not the case. But it’s also normal: the club has just been bought, it is in a transition phase. So there is a misunderstanding, the search for something, until everything stabilizes.

Fear for the future, an uncertain future, is that one of the subjects that you often deal with with professional athletes?

It’s hugely difficult for amateur sports and those who don’t earn too much money, who can’t bet on their long-term salary. In football it is less the case, they have big salaries and can quickly ensure a quiet future. What worries is rather the duration of the contracts and knowing if there is an ambitious project in the club where they are.

Players learned that they were encouraged to leave. What impact can this have on their minds?

To evolve in football on a daily basis at the moment, and to have worked with training centers, football is a very cruel, very hard world. We make radical choices quickly, it’s the war on who will show their strengths the most and crush the other. Pro players are used to being in this hyper-competitive, even violent atmosphere. I’m not saying it’s good, but they are armored against it, and that’s also a reason why they are paid dearly, because we want performance very quickly.

How important are leaders in a group?

It is fundamental. A group does not function well without technical (those who win you games), social and motivational leaders. There is an error in the management of not having recruited players who had these profiles. Because having 25 to 30 players to manage on a daily basis is a priesthood. For it to work, you already need a very high-level manager, and leaders chosen or elected in the group.

Switching from a top 10 objective to a maintenance objective, does that change a lot of things in the approach to matches?

It’s awful (laughs) The cheap target makes you lose motivation. When every day you train, you play with pain, and you also play not to be relegated, the motivation is not very positive. We need a strategy as if we were going to war, that everyone is coordinated, from players to employees, to have this objective in mind, but also to offer more encouraging prospects: a change of strategy in the club, of jersey, interesting recruitment…

Does it impact the mind during the matches or the adrenaline and the competition mean that, for 90 minutes, you don’t think about it anymore?

The players are not motivated in the same way from July until May, you can’t be at the top all the time. This varies according to external elements (the weather, the choices of the coach, the opponents…) and internal elements (family life, life course, physical form…). During the match, you don’t really think about everything else, but you can’t completely ignore a difficult context. Very few players know how to be 100% focused on a match because they are quickly disturbed by external elements (supporters, noises, etc.) or personal ones. It’s even more complicated when everyday life is difficult. Otherwise, we must remain in a kind of optimism worthy of a Buddhist monk.

When you see everything that’s going on at the club, what advice would you give to the players? What can you do to get through this period more peacefully?

Without defending my profession, I would tell them to be accompanied by mental trainers. It is important that they have an outside view of the club, that someone brings new ideas, new techniques, can extract them from their slump and allow them to find a little positivity. We should work on concentration, letting go, managing emotions.