Change is part of playing at an elite level in sport; managers and coaches change, it is part of the game. Below we set out some other effects of change that might unsettle you. Anxiety — One in six adults is affected by anxiety/depression at any one time.

“I was anxious about the new manager arriving. I knew him from a club team and had an idea we wouldn’t get on. I’ve been feeling jittery about all kinds of things, had a bit more than my share of adrenalin racing around my system. I got into a few arguments with team mates… I’m not sure why. I was feeling so wound up and the new manager coming didn’t help. From day one I was sure he was watching me. I started to get nervous about training sessions as well as at games.” 

“I felt jumpy when he approached me — even when he looked friendly. I began to feel increasingly anxious about my whole life not just football. I couldn’t relax and I was constantly on edge. I felt physically unwell, panicky about little things like getting to places on time. My heart felt like it was racing all the time. I felt sick at the thought of going to training for the first time after the match... I dread the post match analysis.”

— Fictional Example

Facts About Change 

Each new season brings change. This can mean the arrival of a new manager and/ or changes in the team and set-up, and that means increased pressure on players. Each year every team is anxious and keen to prove themselves. The pressure on teams to achieve means that an extra burden is placed on players. A new set-up may mean changes, moving the team around, changing the formation, toughening up training regimes. Players can be singled out for encouragement or a dressing down, and players may be more aware of their status within the team. 

How Change May Affect You: 

  • Change makes everyone anxious 
  • You will wonder if the manager will change the team/have a different management style/want to bring in new talent 
  • There is anxiety in the team because the future is unknown and what is unknown can make us anxious
  • The stakes are usually raised when a new manager enters a county set-up 
  • Anxiety is a mental health condition but it can have a physical affect on the body. It can sap you of energy leaving you drained and de-motivated 
  • Anxiety makes you feel like something bad is going to happen 
  • Feelings of fear and anxiety can last for a short time and then pass. But they can also linger 
  • Anxiety affects your ability to eat, sleep, concentrate or enjoy life. It can also affect your performance on the pitch 
  • Anxiety can hold you back from doing things you want or need to do, and affect your health. Other health problems that are directly based on fear include phobias, panic attacks and anxiety disorders, including obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Some people become overwhelmed by fear and want to avoid situations that might make them frightened or anxious 
  • Anxiety can make you feel physically drained, being in constant state of anxiety places extra stress on your heart

What Anxiety Feels Like 

Anxiety is normal, particularly before a game, but anxiety and adrenalin work together with positive and negative effects. When it affects us negatively we doubt our ability and think the worst can happen. We expect to fail and this can affect performance. 

What You Can Do To Help Yourself 

It can be difficult to talk about feelings but there are people who are there to support you. Helpful numbers and organisations are listed throughout this booklet. It is hard to admit to fears and hard to talk about them but asking for help is the first step to taking control. Talking therapies are very effective for people with anxiety problems. If you are not comfortable talking about your feelings face to face you can do so over the phone confidentially, which could help you. 

  • Improve your lifestyle. Find time to eat properly, reduce alcohol intake, and get plenty of exercise and enough sleep
  • Confide in someone. Don’t keep emotions bottled up, and
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your life