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Sports Psychotherapy

Mental Health in Sport

One in four people in the UK will be affected by mental illness in any year, with the most common being anxiety and depression, therefore it comes as no surprise that sportspeople and professionals face these issues too.

If you’re an athlete there’s a good chance you have been to some dark places based on external pressures and high expectations of others. Not knowing who to talk to can be a lonely place. Family and friends can offer support, but sometimes, unless you’ve been through it or going through the same thing, it’s very hard for them to understand and truly “get it”. This can hinder progression, development, confidence, focus, and performance.

When you deal with low self-esteem as an athlete, there is a greater risk that you will suffer from depression, anxiety, social anxiety, and negative physical symptoms, all of which may impede performance.

It may not only be an athlete’s ideas and self-expectations that are causing their depression, anxiety, or negative thoughts to occur — but it can also stem from expectations that are set by coaches, teammates, family, or even fans. The high expectations and requirements that are set upon sporting professionals are immense and overwhelming if you don’t have the tools and strong mindset to rely upon, it can easily become overwhelming and therefore impact your mental health and a great rate.

The more high-profile sportspeople speak out about their own struggles with mental health, the more accepting it will become and other athletes will seek the help they need without suffering in silence due to the stigma that attaches itself to mental health and not wanting to speak up. You’re not born with a strong mindset. However, you can learn and practice it.

I can help with

Transitioning out of sport

Coping with retirement

Racism and Discrimination


Managing anxiety

Work-related stress

Coping with injury and rehabilitation

Alcohol and drug abuse


Damaging patterns of behaviour

Relationship and family issues

Fear of failure


Focus and determination

Low self-esteem and confidence

Loss of enjoyment

“There’s a different level of understanding when professionals speak to one another.”


Issues professional athletes can experience throughout their career

Feeling isolated is what most sportsmen/women will go through.

There is always a silent conversation we are having with ourselves.

Are we doing the right thing?

Should we be doing the same thing again and again?

Is this what we are passionate about or are we merely doing it for the sake of doing it?

Suffering Injuries

‘Why me?’

Injuries in sports happen. Some are lucky enough to have a career without seriously getting injured, but some do have long-term injuries and career-ending injuries.

Mentally this has a massive effect on our mental state.

When injured, because we can’t do what we are paid and hired to do, we feel we are of no use to the team and manager which can have to leave us feeling like we are letting people down.

We feel that something/our purpose has been taken away from us.

We do need some time out to relax and unwind and use the time when injured to prioritise self-care.

Finding new interests or taking time to pursue other interests can be a great way to switch off.

Being Released From Your Club

Feeling isolated is what most sportsmen/women will go through.

There is always a silent conversation we are having with ourselves. Are we doing the right thing?

Should we be doing the same thing again and again?

Is this what we are passionate about or are we merely doing for the sake of doing it?


Not performing to the expected level is in fact a huge distraction and adds pressure to not performing.

Trying to recapture the form you know that you are capable of and maintaining a standard set by others and possibly yourself can be stressful.

Your mind often works overtime on the drive home after the game, and feeling as if you are not equipped to do your job can be unbearable.

There will be times when you cannot play to the best of your ability due to unforeseen circumstances, or sometimes a lack of preparation mentally, physically, or both. During these times, it is important for you to have a realistic approach/perspective of your targets and outcomes.

My aim is to help you gain a healthy insight into your ‘here and now’ situation, to control your anxiety and keep you focused.

Fans and Social Media

Whilst it’s a dream of many athletes to perform in front of fans, fans are a contributing factor to mental health in sports. They project their frustration and anger onto individuals and often get personal and take it too far. Some people give their opinion on a subject they have little to no knowledge or experience in, in comparison to professionals within the sport. Ultimately, these people do not have credibility and their opinions are based only on what they think they know and believe. It doesn’t hide the fact that the opinions of others are hurtful and damaging to our mental health. 

With the ongoing rise of social media abuse, fans often try to tell athletes how to do the job they never did or failed at trying to do. This is the problem when people are too invested in sports figures. Their loss becomes their own and because they may not have participated in high-level professional sports, they can’t process and come to terms with the outcomes.  The fact of the matter is, you win some, you lose some  

To put it into perspective, it develops into mental health issues… over a football match. Some fans don’t understand what goes on in the real football world.


If you need some time out to relax and unwind, then do use the time when injured to prioritise self-care. You deserve it.

Things like yoga, colouring, and DIY can be a great way to switch off. Finding new interests such as healthy hobbies helps to direct your mind away from the stresses and demands of your profession.

Creating a budget can be a good first step if you’re not sure where to start – the Money Advice Service can help with this. Some people may find it helpful to choose a regular time each week to look at bills and other spending to stop debts piling up.

Withdrawing the amount of money you intend to spend each week can also help to manage your financial situation.

My career

Having worked in the sports industry for over 15 years as a professional footballer, I have a first-hand insight into the daily struggles that my sporting peers may be facing.

I’ve played with and against international footballers who perform on the world stage and who are also World Cup winners, and I have witnessed them experiencing the highest of highs and lowest of lows.

In my playing career, I have experienced major setbacks, such as over 13 operations, a stroke, being released, not being selected for matches, loss of form, and career-ending injuries. I understand the pressures of high expectations and have dealt with outside noise from fans, friends, and family who may not understand.

Everyone has their own unique journey of getting to a certain goal point in their career. Only a select few, if not any, will truly understand how lonely it can be and how your mind can work overtime.

I provide sports psychotherapy for both elite and amateur professionals from a variety of sporting backgrounds including football, swimming, athletics, cycling, golf, and tennis, amongst others.

I support and work with sports professionals on issues that are affecting their everyday lives, from sports performance, burnout, and managing depression and anxiety, to coping with retirement/transitioning away from sports. 

Professional footballer to psychotherapist, an interview with Neal Trotman

“You’re not born with a strong mindset; you have to learn and practice for it to develop. It allows achievement over talent.”



Manchester, United Kingdom


T: 555-555-5555

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