The 5C framework, demonstrating the interaction between each of the Cs

No matter what sport it is that you’re involved in, as a young athlete it’s crucial that you find training and competing enjoyable, that you feel able to perform to the best of your abilities when it matters, and that, over time, you develop and improve. Of course, focusing on your technical, tactical, and physical abilities is important in ensuring that all of this is possible, however, athletes who excel in their sport are typically those who also place emphasis on developing high-quality psychological skills.

This includes being able to regulate emotions such as anger and frustration whilst focusing attention on what’s important at the time, interacting with others in a way that is positive and helpful, and staying motivated and self-assured when faced with difficulties. These qualities and skills can be grouped under the 5Cs of: Commitment, Communication, Concentration, Control, and Confidence. Working on these mental aspects of performance can help you to manage the stresses and challenges you face as a result of participating in your sport, whilst also helping you to achieve your sporting goals.

Let’s take a brief look at each ‘C’ and how you might be able to demonstrate and develop each in your training sessions and competitions.

An athlete who demonstrates high levels of commitment in training and competition is prepared and consistently gives their best effort and shows a desire to learn, even if what they’re faced with is challenging or isn’t going as well as they had hoped.

One way to improve your commitment is by setting clear goals for improvement relating to both training and competition (e.g., asking yourself “what’s one thing that I want to improve on in today’s session?” whilst in the car on the way to training) and reviewing and reflecting on this afterwards, paying attention to what went well as well as what you could improve on next time.

Communication focuses on athletes’ interpersonal skills and ability to interact with others. This involves sharing information, praising teammates, asking helpful questions, listening respectfully, and giving and accepting feedback.

You can demonstrate and further develop your communication by using both verbal and non-verbal skills in order to be a strong HELPA – That is an athlete who Helps, Encourages, Listens, Praises, and Acknowledges others.

Concentration relates to athletes’ ability to focus on the right things at the right time, and in the right place, while at the same time blocking out the distractions that can impact performance.

In order for you to improve your concentration, pay attention to your attention during training sessions and competitions. For example, think back to a recent practice or competition that you were involved in and reflect on what you were thinking about, doing, or about to do at a specific moment. Consider how this could be better next time, and further challenge yourself to remain focused when you’re faced with increased difficulty (e.g., when you feel tired).

Control relates to athletes’ ability to manage their emotions before, during, and after a performance. An athlete who demonstrates good control will be calm yet alert before performing and will be able to “bounce back” after challenges and mistakes that occur during performance.

Being aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and emotions and sharing these with others before, during, and after training sessions and competitions is a key way in which you can develop control skills. There are also lots of useful activities that you can use to help you to manage any unhelpful emotions, for example, deep breathing and positive self-talk. Consider which of these (or any other activities you’re aware of) you might find most useful and practice using these in training sessions and competitions.

The final C, confidence, isn’t a mental skill like commitment, communication, concentration, and control before it. Instead, it is essentially a state of mind that reflects the belief that you have in your ability to perform a certain skill or achieve a target that you have set. It can feel as though your confidence can be really “up and down” if it’s not built on three solid foundations: the development of a positive attitude to a task or situation; the building and banking up of accomplishments; and a sense of positive support from others.

To build your confidence levels, keep a record of your achievements or your development progress, and reflect on your personal strengths and consider how you might be able to use these in different competitive situations.

If you would like to become a 5C athlete, or if you would like more information, check out our services page or get in touch.

For tips on how to improve your 5Cs, you can also view our “Essential Mental Skills for Young Footballers” resource, linked below.

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Essential mental skills for young footballers