About

What We Do

Sport and Thought is a way of working with adolescents that fuses the sport of football and psychodynamic theory. We create a space to encourage thought and act as a catalyst to promote emotional and
behavioural change.

Our aim is to help young people develop the emotional control and resilience they need to participate actively in school, complete their education and lead fulfilling, emotionally rich lives.

Football in psychological context

We believe an individual’s reactions within a sporting context are no different to a societal one. If one reacts aggressively to a perceived wrong in the field of play or has difficulty with another player being within their proximity, it is quite likely such a reaction will be mirrored within the classroom and life in general. The sport of football can be used to enable participants to consider their own emotional and behavioural traits, and the underlying reasoning behind them.

Sport and Thought works with its membership to slow down their internal processes and anxieties. This allows them to reflect and not consistently act on impulse. By doing this we begin to create a more robust internal state of being.

Creating containment and boundaries

Within Sport and Thought, the ball is seen as an externalisation of the individual’s mind, and the way the person treats the football, how they work with it, is very much in synchronicity with their internal state of
being.

The majority of the work –as this is a sporting project we call them “drills”- take place within coned out squares. The idea of creating coned spaces in which to work comes from the thought that they offer containment and a boundary –like that of our mind. The coned out “contained” space represents a space for us to work in. We create an
arena in which what takes place (our external difficulties) can be interpreted, thought about and held in a safe space much like that of a consulting room.

Bringing structure to chaos

Sport and Thought concentrates on engaging the individual with the football in an attempt to begin to bring an internal structure to what is otherwise a chaotic state of being. The project encourages its cohort to play football in a very controlled and thoughtful fashion.

The ball is to remain on the ground as much as possible. There is great emphasis on short passing and movement into space, to be constantly moving and thinking, or as we state within the project, to be “on your toes”. This is to ensure participants are always ready to receive the football and not be flat footed in sporting terms, or flat of mind in a psychological way.

Developing the ability to think

To play the ball on the ground and to move into space to receive a pass, or to give another player an option, takes an ability to think. This is something that the membership find very difficult at the beginning of the project. The ball is an extension of the mind and the ability to control the ball (or in the case of the adolescents when we first begin to work with them, lack of control of the ball and inability to remain within the coned out box) allows us to see and measure the level of internal difficulty and chaos that the individual is experiencing.

As those who work with us become more contained through their weekly attendance at sessions that offer both external and internal structure, they begin to understand themselves and their difficulties more, with the outcome being their ability to work within the coned out box and to not seep beyond its boundary.

This internal shift is shown to the therapist through the increased ability of the membership to think and cope with the session and space. Initially, the group can see their progression via their increased technical ability with the football.

Making the link between the pitch and the classroom

The difficulties that are expressed within the session are verbalised back to the adolescents. They are stressed but generally not to the individual. Difficulties are always linked to external situations outside of the football
pitch. This allows the cohort to link their behaviours and difficulties.

For example, if the cohort have difficulty listening and internalising what is being said within the session, we would link it to the classroom, put forward a possible reason why it is hard to listen, and also get the cohort
to think about what the possible outcome would be. It is always emphasised that within our session there would be no negative outcome, only a chance to think about it.

We never seek answers, though sometimes they are given. By working in this way we remove the more persecutory or humiliating feelings that may be evoked in more traditional therapeutic interventions, and allow the emphasis to remain on the football and less so on the self.

Additional services

In addition, to the practical Sport and Thought sessions, we also offer:

  • Individual mentoring
  • Group mentoring
  • Class based individual lesson support
  • Post GCSE pathway support
  • Delivery of soft sports based qualifications
  • Training modules in our way of working
  • School SLT support