In September 2012, Liverpool Football Club hired sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters, somebody Brendan Rodgers described as providing the “mental tuning” which was needed at an elite level of professional sport.
Peters, also known as ‘The mind mechanic” has worked most notably with successful athletes including 2012 Olympic medal winners Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, and a more well-known figure to Liverpool fans, Craig Bellamy.
Since Peters was employed, a little 5 months ago, there have been significant changes throughout the squad, individually and throughout the team as a whole. Before Peters’ appointment was made public, in November 2012, Liverpool’s form in the Premier League was poor, recording only two wins, four draws and three losses.
Since then, to present, Liverpool’s form has dramatically improved, recording 7 wins, 5 draws, and four losses. Whether the rise in form and well-being within the club can be credited to Peters as a whole, is questionable.
On an individual level, it has been widely reported throughout the media that the improvement in form to previously poor performing players such as Jose Enrique, Stewart Downing & Jordan Henderson, is due to Brendan Rodgers harsh treatment, but little attention and praise has been credited to the possible effect Dr Peters may of had.
It must also be noted, that the players work with Dr Peters on a one-to-one, weekly basis, only if they wish, as Rodgers has not made his work mandatory for the players. This may be why we may have only witnessed an improvement in particular individuals throughout the team, most notably Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing.
In spite of a few notable improvements, there have also been a decline in some performances recently, including Raheem Sterling & Martin Skrtel, who have both been rewarded with new contracts in the past few months. What does this say about their mental state? Are they both extrinsically motivated, and find motivation towards outside factors such as money or cars? Whereas intrinsically motivated individuals, which seem to be a thing of the past, are motivated by rewards such as just gaining enjoyment from playing football, or pulling on the Liverpool jersey, which is arguably, how you would define Jordan Henderson.
Despite developments in results as a whole, certain aspects of the team’s performance are still to be questioned, including the way the team crumbles once they are in a leading position, which has been seen in the two recent matches against Arsenal and Manchester City respectively. This brings the question, should Rodgers make working with Dr Peters a mandatory part of the players weekly routine? And although it’s been argued he delivers his best work on a one to one basis, should Dr Peters also work with the team as a whole, rather than an individual basis, to overcome any problems throughout the team as a whole?