How a solution-focused approach can help young footballers

The ‘nearly kids’ and the price of not making it! How a solution-focused Hypnotherapist being employed by every academy could help these young and, sometimes vulnerable, elite athletes.


Every year there are, on average, 11,000 young footballers aged between eight and eighteen, who have their dreams shattered by football clubs who were only really bothered about finding a rare gem, which they believe will be capable of playing at the very top echelons of the sport.

Another stat released states that 50% of young footballers involved in the academy system will leave by the time they are sixteen and 97% of those who go through the system, will not play at the elite level.

So what happens to those thousands of footballers who fail to make the grade?

It appears that a few of these players may return back to playing with their mates and ply their trade within the vast networks of grassroots football teams, with some going on to play within semi-professional leagues.

However, many of these young players will turn their backs on the sport and suffer a form of mental breakdown caused by their perception of feeling like a ‘failure’ through being rejected by the very football clubs to which they dedicated so much of their lives.

These are the young people who have never enjoyed a childhood by doing the things which kids of their ages would be expected to do! Going out with their mates, forming friendships, and relationships and the list goes on…

So what happens to these young footballers who are thrown on the scrap heap by these very football clubs and academies?

It is fair to say that there will be a few who will lead perfectly ‘normal’ lives and will go on to have successful careers and family lives. There will also be those who stay involved with the sport in some capacity through coaching and refereeing. 

The concern is for the vast majority who will suffer from significant mental health issues. These issues can very often lead to substance or alcohol abuse, suicide or suicidal thoughts, and financial difficulties, often caused by gambling.

The list is ever increasing with many other issues being identified over time.

But why does this happen?

The answer is remarkably easy to answer and glaringly obvious to those outside of the goldfish bowl of elite professional footballing circles.

The players are not supported anywhere near well enough with regard to their mental health. The same issues then intensify at the point when the players are informed that their services are no longer required. This often culminates in a feeling of worthlessness and failure, and this is created by the very clubs whom the payers have served with dedication and commitment.

How could this horrible drop of a cliff edge be averted for players?

'Quite easily!' I say. If every club and academy employed or had access to a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist, then the root causes of the player's problems could be addressed prior to leaving their clubs. 

The cost for the clubs to employ suitably qualified Hypnotherapists and Psychotherapists would be a financial ‘drop in the ocean’ and would make a huge difference to those suffering.

This is a real tragedy as these young vulnerable athletes could be quite easily guided therapeutically into another role away from football which would in many cases severely quash the likelihood that the player will become mentally unwell.

The players would be managed through this difficult time in their careers and given hope and direction as they look to adjust to life away from full-time football.

As a Clinical Solution Hypnotherapist, I enjoy empowering my clients with the knowledge and equipping them with skills already present within their inner resources to move forward and focus positively on their futures.

It’s always worthwhile remembering that a negative thought will lead to an anxious mind which in turn will lead to a primitive response or responses.

Sadly, an ever-increasing amount of rejected footballers turn to drink, drugs, and gambling as they struggle to replace the void left by football and they use the above negative outlets to vent their desperation in the hope that it will give them their next ‘buzz’. 

How could solution-focused hypnotherapy help these young players?

A solution-focused approach to hypnotherapy could help these players in the following ways:

  • Be able to teach the players how manage their own mental health.
  • Give the players a greater understanding of how negative thinking and rejection can often lead to high levels of anxiety which, in turn, leads to the brain producing a primitive response. For example, a greater risk of becoming depressed, addicted, and suffering from other mental health issues.
  • Provide the players with support prior to and after being released by a professional club.

Finding a professional 

If you are a young footballer navigating the difficult period of rejection, hypnotherapy may be a powerful way to help change any negative thoughts. You can reach out to me via my profile to learn more. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Hypnotherapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Prescot, Merseyside, L34
Written by Chris O'Connor, MNCH (Reg) HPD,DSFH MAfSFH NCH (Reg)
Prescot, Merseyside, L34

I am an experienced Clinical Hypnotherapist who has now helped hundreds of clients in achieving a better quality of life through Hypnotherapy.
I am passionate about helping and supporting people who suffer with mental health related conditions. I have played sport all my life and am lucky enough to work as a Professional Boxing Timekeeper

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