Premier League returns: why players face post-World Cup ‘performance and confidence’ issues this weekend | football news

Premier League returns: why players face post-World Cup ‘performance and confidence’ issues this weekend | football news

#Premier #League #returns #players #face #postWorld #Cup #performance #confidence #issues #weekend #football #news Welcome to InNewCL, here is the new story we have for you today:

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From the glory of the world stage, the potential to win a tournament in seven games and the importance of every game, a return to the bread and butter of the Premier League this weekend will hit some players hard.

There are the obvious factors. The intense schedule over the past month for those who made the final stages, the disappointment of failing in Qatar – for all but Argentina’s world champions.

Even before the tournament, there was hardly a midweek without a game. The continental calendar has been compressed. And now, eight days after the World Cup final, the Premier League returns on Boxing Day.

Players’ union FIFPRO has previously spoken out about the impact of the unrelenting season, saying it “poses an ominous threat to players’ health and [will] impede performance optimization”.

Fatigue has grabbed most of the headlines, but perhaps the most important issue is the least appreciated.

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Need a recap of the first half of the season? We’ll cover you…

Mental Performance Advisor Mark Bowden works with players across the football spectrum, including some Champions League clubs.

He told InNewCL Sports the switch to the Premier League’s cyclical marathon from the immediate gratification of the World Cup will have a major impact on most of the division’s 133 representatives in Qatar. And they won’t even notice.

“You’ll hear buzzwords like World Cup hangover, World Cup fatigue, but actually there’s a real mental aspect to the brain that has a physical impact,” he said.

“Let’s take Bukayo Saka as an example from England, but it could be anyone. If you think about his last game, the training sessions before that. The reward for winning that game was a World Cup semi-final. That’s very powerful, and it’s very imminent.

“When we have a very strong goal, we have a massive increase in a chemical called dopamine in the brain. This encourages a more natural determination and concentration in your game. It will improve your performance. And when it rises, we get a surge in testosterone – giving us more confidence as well as strength and power.

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Alexis Mac Allister was among Qatar’s standout players – but Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi says he’s not worried about losing him.

“Now look at the next game he has on Monday. You might say ‘well Arsenal will try to win the Premier League’ – but that’s a long, long way to go. It’s not going to happen against West Ham, it’s not going to happen in the next five games.

“The problem Bukayo and every other player will have this weekend is that drawing three points in a long season, as professional as they are, just isn’t the same.

“What will naturally happen in the brain and body is a reduction in dopamine and testosterone, which equates to a player having less drive and their determination, focus and ability to perform.

“The physical strength, the intensity, the confidence in their game – they’ll think, ‘I’m trying, it’s just not working’. They will experience a reduction in performance-enhancing chemicals through no fault of their own and without their knowledge.”

Mid-season tournaments are nothing new to some. The Africa Cup of Nations took away some of the Premier League’s biggest names for a month last January, albeit not in the same numbers as the World Cup.

Title-winner Sadio Mane’s form did improve upon his return to Liverpool, despite being accused of underperforming in the first half of the season.

But beaten finalist Mo Salah, who started 2021/22 like a freight train, could never quite reach those heights again after losing to Egypt.

Boden believes Salah’s experience is more a reflection of the reaction of the average Premier League player.

InNewCL Sports’ Karen Carney recently told The Guardian that the fallout from a World Cup could take the rest of the season to shake off.

“I’ve always felt like it took me up to six months to mentally recover from a major tournament, but physically I had to jump pretty straight into a league campaign,” she wrote.

In Qatar, disappointment at England’s elimination in the quarter-finals saved them just another week’s rest.

Normally they would be given a summer to recharge, with the gradual excitement of a new season building over time. This year they could be back on the pitch 15 days after leaving Al Bayt.

There’s no way the disappointment has faded. Interestingly, Bowden helps Harry Kane shake off his own guilt after his missed penalty against France. There will not be such a positive image everywhere.

“There’s going to be a crash, and that’s the catchphrase of the hangover,” Bowden said. “You have a summer tournament and there will still be a drop but there is that gap to next season and the excitement of a new season.

“You even have the weather. It’s nice warm weather, now they’re coming back to the cold and wet when they’ve been in the sun, which isn’t an incentive. There are so many reasons why this World Cup will result in a greater drop in testosterone and dopamine than if it were held in the summer.

“The disappointment of a World Cup is how a player perceives it. He could carry the weight of the world on his shoulders or think the team played pretty well and see the positives.

“Harry Kane missed his second penalty, yes, but I think we’ve seen him perform consistently over the last 10 years. I think he will be as motivated and focused as ever. He’s had setbacks before and comes back better.

“Whether he’s worked with people on it or just has this understanding of what makes him tick, he knows how to respond to things like this.”

So what to do? Should managers prioritize players who have never traveled to Qatar for the next games? Not necessarily, but a lack of attention to performance psychology even in the best domestic league in the world doesn’t help.

Just as Arsene Wenger put nutrition at the center of the game, a psychological revolution is on the horizon at some point. There has been evidence over the years that Sir Alex Ferguson used a sleep coach and vision specialist to get his players into the mental state they desired.

But nearly a decade since his retirement, things have stalled. Players Bowden has worked with have often never seen a psychologist, even when one is available at their clubs.

Most are paying out of pocket, despite the clear benefits their teams are reaping from improved performance.

“It’s a mystery to me why the psychological side, the mental side of the game, isn’t given much more importance,” Bowden said. “Most players and many managers can still see the mental side of the game as something fluffy that gives players well-being.

“But it’s much more about the production of performance-enhancing or debilitating chemicals in the brain.

“What could teams do? When we compare how dopamine and natural testosterone are designed to be released, you want every single gamer to look for something that is a big driver of something immediate.

“So for something big for the next game, next two games. Something that can really inspire them to achieve things on a consistent basis.

“One of those is, whenever you take a shower in the morning, set it on as cold as possible for the last 30 seconds. This has wide-ranging benefits, but of course it also produces more dopamine.

“It might not be the same for the same, but we’re always looking for ways to tweak the brain, the drivers of performance. I think that’s what these guys will be looking for this weekend.”

Does the extra half minute help the World Cup returnees or do they take a shower themselves? We, along with their worried managers, won’t know until they step foot on the pitch next week.

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