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‘They’re passing the ball with real confidence: you can just see how focused they are today’. It’s a line that could be taken from almost any commentator or pundit. It’s also a statement which fans across the world would recognise. We know when our team’s players are motivated. Or do we?

It’s a question that Malcolm Harkness, who was part of Chelsea’s backroom team for just under four years, has been wrestling with. Before leaving Cobham last October to take-up a role with Turkish club Trabzonspor, Harkness – working in partnership with his dad, Tim, Chelsea’s current Head of Sports Science – was responsible for ‘psychologically coding’ the London club’s games.

Recording ‘actions’ – such as a shot, pass or tackle – taken by both Chelsea’s first team and the opposition, Harkness would use a simple criteria to determine to what extent the ‘action’ displayed confidence, motivation or focus.


To read the rest of this article, visit The Mind Room, the sister blog of The Football Psychology Show 


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