Leicester City Football Club

Written in 2021 by Ben Walker
Leicester City Academy Sport and Performance Psychology Lead

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For a number of years, now, the 5Cs has been central to the delivery of Leicester City Academy’s Sport and Performance Psychology programme, representing the core framework upon which the programme is founded. As of the start of the 2021/2022 season, the Sport and Performance Psychology department whose responsibility this provision is consists of 5 practitioners, each of whom works with players, coaches, staff, and parents across the foundation, youth, and professional development phases to support players’ psychological development and wellbeing in a way that is aligned to the overall Academy vision and that meets the requirements of the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan. It continues to be the case that the 5Cs framework is key to this work, ensuring that there is familiarity and consistency when it comes to Psychology amongst all those involved in developing our young players.

What we did

Underpinned by the 5Cs, my colleagues and I use a variety of methods and approaches in our work with players, coaches, staff, and parents to promote the development of players’ psychological skills and performance.

Across foundation, youth, and professional development phases we directly provide psychological support and education to players on both a one-to-one basis and through the delivery of workshops and presentations. The 5Cs lies at the heart of this work and it is imperative to us that this delivery is age-appropriate, with a clear and specific focus for each phase that is considerate of cognitive and social development across childhood and adolescence. Within the foundation phase, for example, a focus is placed on players’ demonstration of desirable 5C behaviours, whilst at the professional development phase emphasis is instead placed on players consistently showcasing excellent 5C responses and making the most of their 5C performance strengths. The 5C behavioural standards that we developed, which take into consideration age- and position-specific differences, have significantly facilitated this work, ensuring that all academy players have a sound understanding of what ‘good’ psychological responses looks like for them. The 5C framework is also central to our psychological profiling process, which involves players’ 5C performance skills and behaviours being appraised by coaches, practitioners, and the players themselves, to inform their respective individual learning plan and programme of support.

We also recognise the vital role that coaches, performance support staff, for example physiotherapists, nutritionists, and sport scientists, and parents play in promoting and shaping young footballers’ psychological development and performance and, therefore, place significant emphasis on working with these key personnel to support them in creating environments that are facilitative to 5C development. We aim to develop staff and coaches’ understanding of mental skills through the delivery of 5C-focused and context-specific educational workshops, as well as through the dissemination of additional educational resources. Not only this, but we work with and alongside coaches to design psychologically informed training sessions to promote the development and strengthening of players’ psychological skills.

Our work with parents assumes a similar focus, with the 5Cs representing the framework around which my colleagues and I can discuss with parents the development of players’ psychological capabilities. This work, again, takes place on an individual basis, as well as through the delivery of educational workshops and the dissemination of additional educational materials. Our 5C Parent Reflective Diary represents a recent example of the latter that aimed to educate parents on the desirable psychological skills for young football players and encouraged parents to consider how they might be able to support their child to further develop these.

The outcome

Without question, the 5Cs has facilitated the work that my colleagues and I have done and continue to do in supporting the psychological development of young footballers at Leicester City. Fundamentally, the 5Cs are at the heart of every conversation that my colleagues and I have with players, coaches, staff, and parents around psychological performance and development. The frameworks simplicity enables us to convey relatively complex and often unfamiliar concepts in a way that is easy to understand, whilst enabling us to flexibly adapt information and our discussions in a way that is tailored to the person(s) in front of us. It continues to be the case that the 5Cs framework is key to our work, ensuring that there is familiarity and consistency when it comes to recognising and developing desirable psychological responses amongst all those involved in developing our young players.

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