Consulting in elite youth English soccer and cricket

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The field of applied sport psychology documents many reflections from sport psychologists working with elite adult athletes (e.g., Bull, 1995; Fifer, Henschen, Gould, & Ravizza, 2008; Taylor, 2008) and coaches (Harwood, 2008); however, reflections on professional practice in youth sport remains limited (Gilbourne & Richardson, 2006; Visek, Harris, & Blom, 2009). Many child and adolescent athletes establish their sporting careers through a professional academy supported by coaches and sport scientists. Reflections on the issues and challenges of delivering psychological services in these organizations are limited. This lecture shares a joint reflection of a psychoeducation program delivered at two English professional academies – soccer and cricket. This season-long program followed a cognitive-developmental framework, changing and adapting cognitive-behavioural techniques to benefit youth athletes. Initial elements of the program focused on the 5C’s: Commitment, communication, concentration, control, and confidence (Harwood, 2005, 2008). Education about each of the 5C’s was brought about via formal and practical workshop sessions. Team building interventions (including personal-disclosure mutual-sharing; Crace & Hardy, 1997; Holt & Dunn, 2006) and one-to-one consultations using a client-centred approach (Danish, Petitpas, & Hale, 1993) were also included. Data (i.e., social validation, interview, and psychometric) from players and academy directors revealed that the work was suitable and effective for their needs. Consultant reflection identified the major challenges faced during delivery of the program to be: time, funding, specific youth sport psychological intervention frameworks, credibility, confidentiality, determining effectiveness, professional boundaries, and relationships. Reflections are presented about the delivery of the program and the challenges encountered. Future directions to integrate psychoeducation programs for professional sport academies are presented. Furthermore, rationale for several aspects of the program requires empirical qualification. For example, gaining entry, the immersion approach, psychological skills tailored to youth athletes’, and indicators of value.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • sport psychology
  • adolescents
  • children
  • soccer
  • football
  • cricket


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